Saturday, September 30, 2006

Battle of Unbeatens Highlight Week 4

Two games that feature undefeated teams top the docket for an exciting week four of the NFL season.

With one quarter of the season about to be wrapped up, four of the early power teams hook up in what should be fun TV viewing for any football fan.

First up is the San Diego Chargers (2-0) traveling to Baltimore to take on the 3-0 Ravens, followed by Sunday night's matchup of the Seattle Seahawks (3-0) at the Chicago Bears (3-0).

The Chargers-Ravens contest features the top two defenses in the NFL (San Diego is one, Baltimore two) and the Sunday night clash features the two best teams in the NFC, at least in the early part of the season.

There are plenty of excellent games on tap for any football connoisseur, so set back, grab your chips and dip, get your fantasy football sheets out and enjoy the games.

Here's the Corners predictions for week four in the NFL:

San Diego at Baltimore
The Chargers have out-scored opponents 67-7 and the visiting team has a 25-21 record thus far, but the Ravens defense leads the league in turnovers and are very tough to beat at home. Neither team should be able to run the ball so it comes down to the quarterbacks - Steve McNair versus Philip Rivers. I know who I choose. Winner: Ravens.

New England at Cincinnati
The Patriots have no receivers of note and an injured Corey Dillon. The Bengals are coming off a huge win over the Steelers and are riding high with confidence. Winner: Bengals.

Indianapolis at New York Jets
Chad Pennington is playing at a high level and Eric Mangini has the Jets believing in themselves. Unfortunately for New York, the Colts have Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and more offensive weapons than you can shake a stick at. Winner: Colts.

Jacksonville at Washington
The good news for the Redskins, their offense finally got untracked as Mark Brunell set an NFL record by going 22-for-22. The bad news for Washington, Houston isn't on the schedule this week. The Jaguars have a tough, hard-hitting defense and a solid 1-2 punch in Fred Taylor and Maurice Drew. Winner: Jaguars.

Minnesota at Buffalo
The Vikings have played three games and all have been decided by three points. Brad Johnson is an underrated quarterback and the defense is better than people think. The problem is the Bills are very tough at home, even this Buffalo squad. I can't see them losing two in a row up there. Look for the upset. Winner: Bills.

Arizona at Atlanta
Kurt Warner is struggling with turnover problems and is looking over his shoulder at Matt Leinart. The Cardinal defense is still bad and Edgerrin James hasn't had a 100-yard game yet. Not a good recipe for success against a solid Falcon running game and defense. Winner: Falcons.

New Orleans at Carolina
The 3-0 Saints are the surprise team of the NFL but must come into a hostile Ericsson Stadium to take on the Panthers, a team many predicted to go all the way but are struggling at 1-2. New Orleans is coming off an emotional high after Monday night and could have a letdown. Carolina welcomed Steve Smith back and the offense immediately improved. Winner: Panthers.

Dallas at Tennessee
Bill Parcells will be happy to get on the field and get away from all the T.O questions. The Titans are going with Kerry Collins, at least for one more week, but the Dallas defense should be too much for Tennessee to overcome. Winner: Cowboys.

Miami at Houston
The Dolphins are struggling, barely getting a win against the Titans at home. The good news for Nick Saban - he's playing the Texans. Houston's defense is ugly and nothing in the world is going to make it pretty this season. Winner: Dolphins.

San Francisco at Kansas City
The 49ers are coming to Arrowhead with Frank Gore and Vernon Davis out of the lineup to face a Chiefs team coming off a bye week and angry about its 0-2 start. Who do you think is going to win? Winner: Chiefs.

Detroit at St. Louis
The Rams will be without Orlando Pace and Mike Martz comes back to his old stomping grounds in a game that has a soap opera story line written all over it. The reality is the Lions are 0-3, ranked 29th against the pass and give up 24 points a game. St. Louis on the other hand, has the best record at home (47-15) of any team since 1999. Winner: Rams.

Cleveland at Oakland
Is anybody even going to show up for this game? How bad is Oakland? The Raiders are three point underdogs to a winless team at home. Winner: Browns.

Seattle at Chicago (Sunday night)
Battle of the two best teams in the NFC right now. The Seahawks must face a rugged Bear defense without Shawn Alexander and one dimensional is not what Seattle wants to be. Rex Grossman has grown by leaps and bounds and Chicago will be pumped up on national television against the defending NFC champs. Winner: Bears.

Green Bay at Philadelphia (Monday night)
Brett Favre and the Packers are playing better football and rookie Greg Jennings is fast becoming Favre's new favorite target, but coming to Philly on a Monday night against that pass-rushing defense, will be too much for the young Green Bay squad. Donovan McNabb is playing solid football and Brian Westbrook is having a breakout season. Winner: Eagles.

Last week: 11-3
Overall: 24-6

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Iowa Looking for Upset of Ohio State

The Ohio State Buckeyes will take their number one ranking to Ames to face the 13th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in a key Big Ten and national battle.

The Buckeyes struggled early on with Penn State last week before a fourth quarter rally made it look worse than the 28-6 score would indicate. The Hawkeyes are looking for the experience of QB Drew Tate to help them pull off the upset of number one.

Only one other game this week features ranked teams facing each other - No. 24 Georgia Tech at No. 11 Virginia Tech.

There's already been some noise in the top 25 after last nights games. BYU ended the 13-game winning streak of No. 17 TCU with a 31-17 victory. The Horned Frogs win streak had been the longest in the nation. In the only other game on Thursday night, second ranked Auburn held of South Carolina for a 24-17 win.

Here's the Corners predictions for this weeks Top 25 battles:

Rutgers (23) at South Florida
The Scarlet Knights, back in the top 25 for the first time in 30 years, will try to start the season 5-0 for the first time since 1976. Winner: Rutgers.

Ohio State (1) at Iowa (13)
The Buckeyes have won nine of the last ten meetings with the Hawkeyes. It will be tough, but it should be ten out of eleven. Winner: Ohio State.

USC (3) at Washington State
The Trojans will be without Dwayne Jarrett but it shouldn't really matter either way. Winner: USC.

Alabama at Florida (5)
The Gators lost to the Tide 31-3 last season. Unfortunately, 'Bama doesn't have Brodie Croyle or Demeco Ryans on this team. Winner: Florida.

Michigan (6) at Minnesota
The Wolverines have had their problems with the Golden Gophers in the past and this game may be no different. Look for Mike Hart, Chad Henne and a much improved defense to come out on top. Winner: Michigan.

Sam Houston State at Texas (7)
What! Why is this game being played? Winner: Texas.

Mississippi State at LSU (9)
Tigers have won 13 of last 14 games against MSU. They should have no problem with win number 14. Winner: LSU.

Georgia (10) at Mississippi
The Bulldogs struggled last week and needed a late fourth quarter comeback to hold off winless Colorado. Joe Cox gets his turn at quarterback after Matthew Stafford failed to produce. Could be closer than people think. Winner: Georgia.

Georgia Tech (24) at Virginia Tech (11)
Hokies gets their first test of the season after playing yet another cupcake non-conference schedule. Calvin Johnson and the Yellowjackets should give Virginia Tech all they can handle, but give the nod to the Hokies in Blacksburg. Winner: Virginia Tech.

Purdue at Notre Dame (12)
The Boilermakers have the worst defense in the Big Ten. The Irish defense aren't world beaters either. Look for plenty of points to be scored in this one. Winner: Notre Dame.

Oregon (14) at Arizona State
The Sun Devils fell out of the top 25 last week after being blown out by California, now a tough Duck squad rolls into Tempe. Oregon is on a high after beating Oklahoma and could be in for a letdown if not careful. Winner: Oregon.

Tennessee (15) at Memphis
Phil Fullmer and the Vols' first road game this season and they don't even leave Tennessee. Nice schedule guys. Winner: Tennessee.

Louisiana Tech at Clemson (18)
Can you say blowout? Winner: Clemson.

California (20) at Oregon State
The Golden Bears destroyed Arizona State and now travel to face the Beavers, a team that has beaten Cal six out of the last seven games. Not this year. Winner: California.

Kansas at Nebraska (21)
The Jayhawks beat the Cornhuskers 40-15 last season. Look for major payback on Saturday. Winner: Nebraska.

Boise State (22) at Utah
The Broncos celebrated a return to the top 25 two weeks ago, now the Utes will celebrate knocking them out of it. Winner: Utah.

Colorado at Missouri (25)
The Tigers are trying to go 5-0 for the first time since 1981. The Buffs are trying to avoid the 0-5 start. Who the heck needs Brad Smith? Winner: Missouri.

The Corner Lowdown:
Last week: 19-2
Overall: 34-5

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Football Fanatics Show: 2

The Football Fanatics Show is a podcast for college and pro football fans featuring hard-hitting commentary with a tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Hell, we may even offend some people. The show features myself, Rich 'Richie' Hagan and Damon Freed chatting about pro and college football.

Each week will preview the upcoming games and look back at the week before. We'll also be giving away some prizes and freebie stuff in future shows. So stop on in and check us out. The show will be on every Thursday during the football season and twice a month during the offseason.

You can listen to the show in streaming media here.

Or you can download the podcast to your hard drive here. This is a big file so be patient and if you don't have broadband, I suggest you listen to the streaming version.

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NFL Week Four Injury Report

Get your fantasy lineups ready for this weekends contests by studying the week four injury report released by the NFL.

MIAMI AT HOUSTON — Dolphins: Questionable —G Joe Berger (Foot); LB Derrick Pope (Hamstring). Probable —CB Travis Daniels (Ankle); CB Eddie Jackson (Toe). Texans: Out —CB Demarcus Faggins (Foot). Questionable —C Mike Flanagan (Foot); DE Antwan Peek (Groin).

SAN FRANCISCO AT KANSAS CITY — 49ers: Out —G Larry Allen (Knee); TE Vernon Davis (Fibula). Questionable —TE Delanie Walker (Shoulder); RB Frank Gore (Ribs); WR Taylor Jacobs (Hamstring); RB Maurice Hicks (Ankle). Probable —RB Michael Robinson (Shoulder). Chiefs: Out —QB Trent Green (Head). Probable —T Kyle Turley (Lower Back).

DALLAS AT TENNESSEE — Cowboys: Questionable —WR Terrell Owens (Hand). Titans: Out —TE Erron Kinney (Knee). Questionable —C Eugene Amano (Ankle); P Craig Hentrich (Back); G Benji Olson (Calf); G Zach Piller (Ankle); DT Robaire Smith (Hamstring); RB Ahmard Hall (Ankle); DE Antwan Odom (Knee); LB Robert Reynolds (Thigh); RB Chris Brown (Toe).

ARIZONA AT ATLANTA — Cardinals: Questionable —LB James Darling (Calf). Probable —TE Fred Wakefield (Back). Falcons: Questionable —DE John Abraham (Groin); LB Edgerton Hartwell (Knee).Probable: DE Patrick Kerney (Tricep); CB DeAngelo Hall (Calf).

SAN DIEGO AT BALTIMORE — Chargers: Out —S Bhawoh Jue (Knee). Questionable —T Leander Jordan (Neck); G Kris Dielman (Hamstring); DE Igor Olshansky (Knee); WR Keenan McCardell (Hamstring); TE Ryan Krause (Hamstring). Ravens: Questionable —WR Demetrius Williams (Arm); LB Terrell Suggs (Thigh); TE Todd Heap (Ankle); G Edwin Mulitalo (Arm); LB Bart Scott (Foot).

MINNESOTA AT BUFFALO — Vikings: Doubtful —QB Tarvaris Jackson (Knee). Questionable —LB Ben Leber (Knee); DT Pat Williams (Ankle). Bills: Questionable —S Matt Bowen (Shin); LB Takeo Spikes (Hamstring); CB Kiwaukee Thomas (Back).

NEW ORLEANS AT CAROLINA — Saints: Out —S Bryan Scott (Thigh); DE Rob Ninkovich (Knee). Questionable —CB Fred Thomas (Hip); WR Devery Henderson (Shoulder); LB Danny Clark (Hip). Panthers: Out —LB Dan Morgan (Concussion); TE Mike Seidman (Knee). Questionable —T Todd Fordham (Shoulder); C Justin Hartwig (Groin); S Shaun Williams (Foot).Probable: CB Ken Lucas (Neck); RB Nick Goings (Thigh); WR Steve Smith (Thigh).

INDIANAPOLIS AT NEW YORK JETS — Colts: Doubtful —DT Corey Simon (Knee). Questionable —G Jake Scott (Knee); S Bob Sanders (Knee); DT Darrell Reid (Elbow); G Ryan Lilja (Knee); DT Dan Klecko (Low Back); LB Freddie Keiaho (Knee); CB Tim Jennings (Knee); CB Marlin Jackson (Concussion); CB Kelvin Hayden (Groin); CB Nick Harper (Ankle); C Dylan Gandy (Abdomen); K Adam Vinatieri (Right Groin); TE Ben Utecht (Groin); DE Josh Thomas (Hip); WR Brandon Stokley (Ankle); T Ryan Diem (Thumb); LB Gary Brackett (Thigh). Probable: RB De De Dorsey (Ankle). Jets: Questionable —WR Laveranues Coles (Calf); WR Tim Dwight (Hamstring); G Pete Kendall (Thigh); S Kerry Rhodes (Thigh); CB Derrick Strait (Thigh); C Trey Teague (Ankle); CB David Barrett (Thigh). Probable: DE Bobby Hamilton (Knee); QB Chad Pennington (Calf); DT Kimo Von Oelhoffen (Knee); DE Shaun Ellis (Hip); DE Dave Ball (Hand); RB Kevan Barlow (Calf); LB Matt Chatham (Foot); T Anthony Clement (Shin); CB Drew Coleman (Hand).

CLEVELAND AT OAKLAND — Browns: Questionable —LB Willie McGinest (Calf); RB Reuben Droughns (Shoulder); DE Orpheus Roye (Shoulder); S Brian Russell (Elbow); DE Simon Fraser (Shoulder); TE Kellen Winslow (Knee); DE Nick Eason (Ankle); CB Gary Baxter (Pectoral); TE Darnell Dinkins (Hamstring); WR Joe Jurevicius (Ribs); G Cosey Coleman (Hand). Raiders: Out —QB Aaron Brooks (Right Shoulder). Questionable —DE Kevin Huntley (Foot); LB Sam Williams (Ankle); LB Grant Irons (Back).Probable: CB Fabian Washington (Hamstring); T Robert Gallery (Calf); CB Nnamdi Asomugha (Foot).

JACKSONVILLE AT WASHINGTON — Jaguars: Doubtful —RB Derrick Wimbush (Knee); DE Marcellus Wiley (Groin). Questionable —CB Rashean Mathis (Knee); DT Marcus Stroud (Ankle); G Chris Naeole (Knee). Probable: WR Chad Owens (Ribs); S Donovin Darius (Back); WR Matt Jones (Groin); DE Paul Spicer (Groin). Redskins: Doubtful —CB Shawn Springs (Abdomen).Probable: QB Mark Brunell (Left Elbow); DT Joe Salave'a (Calf).

DETROIT AT ST. LOUIS — Lions: Out —S Kenoy Kennedy (Foot); LB Alex Lewis (Knee). Questionable —CB Fernando Bryant (Ankle); T Barry Stokes (Hamstring); T Rex Tucker (Knee); G Ross Verba (Hamstring). Probable: DT Shaun Rogers (Knee). Rams: Questionable —T Orlando Pace (Concussion).

NEW ENGLAND AT CINCINNATI — Patriots: Questionable —S Artrell Hawkins (Thigh); CB Ellis Hobbs (Wrist); WR Chad Jackson (Hamstring); T Nick Kaczur (Shoulder); S Eugene Wilson (Hamstring). Probable: QB Tom Brady (Right Shoulder); WR Doug Gabriel (Hamstring); T Matt Light (Knee); T Ryan O'Callaghan (Head). Bengals: Out —C Rich Braham (Knee); S Dexter Jackson (Ankle); WR Tab Perry (Hip); DE Frostee Rucker (Shoulder). Doubtful —LB A.J. Nicholson (Ankle). Questionable —WR Antonio Chatman (Groin); LB Rashad Jeanty (Foot). Probable:DT Sam Adams (Knee); S Kevin Kaesviharn (Neck); LB Brian Simmons (Knee); DE Justin Smith (Foot); T Levi Jones (Ankle); WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Foot). Rich Braham; Dexter Jackson; Tab Perry; Frostee Rucker; A.J. Nicholson; Rashad Jeanty; Sam Adams; Kevin Kaesviharn; Brian Simmons; Justin Smith; Levi Jones; T.J. Houshmandzadeh

SEATTLE AT CHICAGO — Seahawks: Out —G Floyd Womack (Knee); DT Marcus Tubbs (Knee); TE Jerramy Stevens (Knee). Doubtful —RB Shaun Alexander (Foot); DE Joe Tafoya (Knee). Questionable —CB Jordan Babineaux (Concussion); G Chris Gray (Knee); T Sean Locklear (Knee). Bears: Questionable —S Chris Harris (Ankle); TE Desmond Clark (Foot); WR Mark Bradley (Ankle).

Monday's game

GREEN BAY AT PHILADELPHIA — Packers: Out —DT Kenderick Allen (Foot). Doubtful —DT Ryan Pickett (Ankle). Questionable —CB Will Blackmon (Foot); T Junius Coston (Knee); G Jason Spitz (Thigh). Probable: RB Ahman Green (Rib); DE Aaron Kampman (Head).
Eagles: Doubtful —CB Roderick Hood (Heel); CB Lito Sheppard (Ankle). Questionable —S Brian Dawkins (Concussion); WR Donte' Stallworth (Hamstring); RB Brian Westbrook (Knee). Probable:S Sean Considine (Hip); G Shawn Andrews (Shoulder); WR Reggie Brown (Shoulder); DE Darren Howard (Knee); S Michael Lewis (Quadricep); RB Reno Mahe (Ankle); LB Matt McCoy (stinger); TE L.J. Smith (Shoulder); T Tra Thomas (Foot); DT Darwin Walker (Quadricep).

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update: Owens Denies Suicide Attempt

By The Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens denied a police report Wednesday that he attempted suicide, saying he became groggy after mixing painkillers with supplements.

As if to prove he's doing fine, Owens went from the hospital to catching passes from quarterback Drew Bledsoe within two hours, then proclaimed himself "very capable of going out there and playing on Sunday" — despite whatever happened Tuesday night and a broken right hand.

Owens said the confusion likely stemmed from an empty bottle of pain medication found by his publicist, who was with him at the time and called 911. He said the rest of the pills were in a drawer.

"I was non-responsive when she made that call," Owens said. "She made the call out of her judgment for my well-being."

Appearing in a news conference at team headquarters a few hours after leaving a hospital for what a police report described as "a drug overdose," Owens wore workout gear and no bandage on his right hand. The star receiver smiled and seemed more amused than peeved at the latest ruckus surrounding him.

Owens, 32, blamed a combination of hydrocodone, a generic form of Vicodin, with all-natural supplements for making him ill.

"It's very unfortunate for it to go from an allergic reaction to a suicide attempt," he said.

Rescue workers arrived at Owens' home around 8 p.m. Tuesday and took him to an emergency room. When word spread, publicist Kim Etheredge said it was an allergic reaction.

But the story shifted Wednesday morning when several media outlets received a police report — that had yet to be released by the authorities — saying Owens had attempted suicide by overdosing on the painkillers, even putting two more pills into his mouth after an unidentified friend, later identified as Etheredge, intervened.

The police document, first reported by WFAA-TV, said Owens was asked by rescue workers "if he was attempting to harm himself, at which time (he) stated: 'Yes.'"

"I was kind of out of it," Owens said. "I can barely even remember the doctors, much less the police officers asking me questions."

Owens also said that he's "not depressed about anything."

Owens broke the bone leading to his right ring finger during a game a week ago Sunday. The next day, doctors screwed in a plate so the bone could heal without fear of further damage — leaving a 2-inch scar on top of his hand.

If he doesn't play this Sunday, Owens might still return for the following game — Oct. 8, in Philadelphia, against the team that dumped him midway through last season only months after he helped them reach the Super Bowl.

Etheredge also appeared at Owens' news conference, saying she "did not take anything out of his mouth" and that it was unfair for anyone to think Owens would kill himself.

"Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive," she said, referring to the $25 million, three-year contract he signed in March with the Cowboys.

"I'm just upset," Etheredge added. "I feel they take advantage of Terrell. Had this been someone else, this may not have happened."

Dallas police officials declined to comment on Etheredge's denials. "We can't discuss the police report because of privacy laws," said a spokesman, Sgt. Gil Cerda.

Teammates and friends throughout the league rallied to support Owens even before he spoke, with many saying they thought the suicide report might be wrong.

"As soon as I got the news this morning, I had to make my call to make sure everything was OK. You know what? It was," said Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson, a close friend through their rivalry over the best end-zone celebrations.

Former Cowboys star Deion Sanders was with Owens at his home before he went to team headquarters.

"From my understanding, looking at him in the eye as a man and as a big brother, I said `Be straight up with me.' He seems to be OK," Sanders told the NFL Network, where he works as an analyst.

After getting almost strictly Owens-related questions, coach Bill Parcells cut off his usual 25-30 minute session after only nine minutes. He ended it by getting up from his chair and saying, "When I find out what the hell is going on, you will know. Until then, I'm not getting interrogated for no reason."

Police Lt. Rick Watson said during his brief news conference that he could only confirm paramedics called police to say they were taking Owens to the hospital. He said no more details would come from the police because no laws were broken.

"We looked into it, and we determined it is not a criminal offense," Watson said. "This a medical type of situation that occurred."

Watson released the version of the police narrative with certain sections blacked out. The full report was obtained by several news outlets and reported first by WFAA. The Associated Press received the full version from WFAA.

The tape of the 911 call could help clear things up. The AP filed a request under the Texas Public Information Act to get its contents, but fire department officials said it would not be available before late Wednesday.

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Owens Tried to Commit Suicide

By The Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens tried to kill himself by overdosing on pain medication, even putting two more pills into his mouth after a friend intervened, according to a police report obtained Wednesday.

The report said Owens was asked by rescue workers "if he was attempting to harm himself, at which time (he) stated, `Yes.'"

The Dallas police report said the 32-year-old Owens told his friend "that he was depressed." Details of the police report were first reported by WFAA-TV. Police scheduled a news conference for later Wednesday morning.

The friend, who is not identified in the report, "noticed that (his) prescription pain medication was empty and observed (Owens) putting two pills in his mouth," the police report said. The friend attempted to pry them out with her fingers, then was told by Owens that before this incident he'd taken only five of the 40 pain pills in the bottle he'd emptied.

According to the police report, Dallas Fire and Rescue was called regarding someone "attempting suicide by prescription pain medication." Officers arrived to find Owens being stabilized by ambulance workers, who then took him to Baylor University Medical Center.

Owens was hospitalized late Tuesday because of what his publicist said was an allergic reaction to pain medicine he was taking for a broken hand. Doctors reportedly tried to induce vomiting.

Owens, one of the league's top receivers during his 11-year NFL career, is best known for wild stunts on the field and other publicity-seeking antics off it.

When the Cowboys signed him to a $25 million, three-year deal in March, they said their background checks indicated no red flags. In fact, team consultant Calvin Hill — who mostly deals with troubled players — said during training camp that his department was not involved with Owens because he didn't have a history of those kinds of problems.

He missed most of training camp, and three of four preseason games, because of a hamstring injury. He was late for work during his recovery and was fined for it, but Owens laughed it off, saying he overslept. He said it had happened before, though not with Dallas, and would probably happen again.

Owens broke the bone leading to his right ring finger during a game a week ago Sunday. The next day, doctors screwed in a plate so the bone could heal without fear of further damage. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said last week that the pain medicine made Owens ill.

Owens had not practiced since the injury, but because Dallas had a bye this past weekend he did not miss a game. He was expected to practice Wednesday, and Parcells had said there was a chance Owens could play Sunday against Tennessee.

Owens had been especially looking forward to the Cowboys' game after that — Oct. 8, in Philadelphia, against the team that dumped him midway through last season only months after he helped them nearly win the Super Bowl.

Owens was seen laughing and joking on the practice field Tuesday morning. He chatted briefly with reporters in the locker room in the afternoon and seemed fine. A 2-inch scar on the top of his hand was puffy but not wrapped, and he said the swelling was doing down.

While in the locker room, he took a pill from a white paper bag and looked at another medicine bottle that was in the bag. He also called a business partner about a towel-wrap venture they're starting and joked to TV cameras that he wasn't talking until Wednesday and today was only Tuesday.

"My little boy knows better than that," he said, laughing, as he plopped onto a sofa in the middle of the locker room.

Also Tuesday, Owens was involved in launching a national campaign for the National Alliance to End Abuse, an organization aimed at helping at-risk youngsters. He appeared at a high school Tuesday morning and was scheduled to visit others but had to cancel because of changes in the team's practice schedule.

A hospital spokeswoman said early Wednesday there was no patient registered as Terrell Owens, although federal privacy laws allow people to block their name from being released. Owens' publicist and agent, and the Cowboys, did not return repeated calls from The Associated Press. No teammates or Cowboys officials were seen entering the hospital late Tuesday night.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Alexander Breaks Foot; Saints March to Victory

The Seahawks' shield against the hex of the Super Bowl loser has its first crack: Shaun Alexander broke his left foot, and will be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks.

Coach Mike Holmgren said Monday that a bone scan revealed Alexander sustained a "small crack" and "displaced fracture" on a non-weight-bearing foot bone sometime during the Seahawks' 42-30 win over the New York Giants on Sunday.

Already nursing soreness in his foot from a bone bruise, last year's league MVP ran for 47 yards on 20 carries while wearing new shoes with special inserts before sitting out the fourth quarter, which began with Seattle leading 42-3.

Alexander missed practices last Wednesday and Thursday because of the bone bruise from the season opener at Detroit, which led to the small crack, Holmgren said.

Last season's NFL rushing leader was on crutches inside team headquarters Monday, a special player's off day following their third straight win, the coach said. Alexander had departed the facility by the time Holmgren made his announcement.

"You lose the MVP for a while, it's a hit," Holmgren said. "Let's face it, he's the MVP. We're not going to sugarcoat it."

The test of whether this crack becomes the void that has derailed the previous five Super Bowl losers begins Sunday night at Chicago, which is also 3-0. Maurice Morris will make his fifth career start for Alexander.

Seattle has its bye the following week before playing at division rival St. Louis on Oct. 15.

"I don't think it will be real lengthy," Holmgren said. "Now, he just has to stay off of it and let it heal."

Holmgren said he could not yet specify how long Alexander would be out.

New Orleans 23, Atlanta 3
More than 70,000 people welcomed football back to New Orleans last night as the Saints played their first game at the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina hit a year ago. The Saints improved to 3-0 with a 23-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons, coming off a franchise-record 306 yards on the ground against Tampa Bay, managed just 117 yards rushing on the inspired Saints. Vick had a miserable game, completing 12-of-31 for 137 yards.

Deuce McAllister handled the bulk of the ground attack, with 19 rushes for 81 yards. Brees was 20-of-28 passing for 191 yards. His favorite receiver was rookie Marques Colston — the fourth-to-last pick in this year's draft — who grabbed seven passes for 97 yards.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

NFL Roundup: Week 3

Some observations, comments and opinions about Sunday's NFL games.

Washington 31, Houston 15
Mark Brunell completed an NFL-record 22 straight passes and Clinton Portis (164 total yards) made his presence felt in the victory over the 0-3 Texans. Backup RB Ladell Betts had 124 yards rushing as the Redskins (1-2) finally got their offense on track.

New York Jets 28, Buffalo Bills 20
Jets QB Chad Pennington had another solid day and despite the big day from Bills RB Willis McGahee (150 yards), the New York defense did just enough to come out of Buffalo with the victory.

Green Bay 31, Detroit 24
Yes the Packers aren't that good of a team, neither are the Lions for that matter, but can we finally put the Brett Favre is washed up theories to bed. The guy threw for over 300 yards, three touchdowns and tossed his 400th career touchdown pass. Awesome.

Indianapolis 21, Jacksonville 14
The Jaguars held Peyton manning in check for most of the game, but the Colts (3-0) offense had enough to beat Jacksonville (2-1) in the battle of AFC South powers. Jacksonville got 103 yards from rookie RB Maurice Drew, but the Jags have a similar situation to last year - great defense, but can't score points.

Chicago 19, Minnesota 16
Battle of the top two teams in the NFC North. Bears QB Rex Grossman rebounded from a crucial mistake to lead Chicago to the impressive victory in Minnesota. Grossman threw an interception for a touchdown, but later hit Rashied Davis for the game winner with 1:37 left on the clock.

Miami 13, Tennessee 10
Ugly win but the Dolphins will take it. Miami's offense still can't get untracked and Daunte Culpepper looks like he hasn't fully recovered from the knee injury. Look for Vince Young to start this week ahead of Kerry Collins.

Cincinnati 28, Pittsburgh 20
The Bengals capitalized on Steelers mistakes and got revenge after last seasons playoff loss the injured Carson Palmer. The defending Super Bowl champs now find themselves in a deep hole early in the season. The Steelers (1-2) are two games back of Cincinnati and Baltimore in the AFC North.

Carolina 26, Tampa Bay 24
Good battle in what could be construed as an elimination game in the NFC South. Both teams came in 0-2 and needing a win. Panthers kicker John Kasay made four field goals, including the game winner with two seconds left, to get the victory. Bucs QB Chris Simms was hit so hard during the game that he was taken to the hospital where he had his spleen removed. He should make a full recovery. Steve Smith returned for Carolina and caught seven passes for 112 yards.

Baltimore 15, Cleveland 14
The Ravens go to 3-0 on the season thanks to solid defense and kicker Matt Stover. The win marked the first time the Ravens have started a season 3-0. Stover kicked the game winner with 20 seconds remaining. The Baltimore defense held the Browns (0-3) to 38 yards rushing.

Seattle 42, New York Giants 30
Matt Hasselbeck threw for five touchdowns as the Seahawks (3-0) jumped out to a 42-3 lead and withstood a furious New York (1-2) rally in the second half to preserve the victory. The win was the 12th straight for Seattle at home.

St. Louis 16, Arizona 14
Marc Bulger was 21-of-31 for 309 yards and a touchdown to lead the Rams (2-1) to the NFC West win over the Cardinals (1-2). With Arizona on the Ram 18, Kurt Warner fumbled the snap from center with 1:46 to go and St. Louis MLB Will Witherspoon recovered to preserve the victory.

Philadelphia 38, San Francisco 24
Brian Westbrook touched the ball only 12 times, but he finished with 164 total yards and three touchdowns to lead the Eagles (2-1) to a road victory over the 49ers (1-2). The win puts Philadelphia in sole possession of first place of the NFC East.

Denver 17, New England 7
Despite starting the season 2-0, the Patriots have struggled offensively so far in 2006. On Sunday night, seven points was all New England could muster as the Broncos came to Foxboro Stadium and left a winner. Bronco receiver Javon Walker and three receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

There was clearly some separation on Sunday with some key games being played. Chicago and Seattle are the front runners in the NFC in the early part of the season, regardless of who wins the Monday night game between Atlanta and New Orleans. Philadelphia appears to have bounced back, but the difference is in the defenses. Seattle and Chicago's defenses are a little bit better than the rest of the contenders.

In the AFC, Cincinnati and Indianapolis have emerged as the big dogs with San Diego and Baltimore not far behind. Jacksonville needs to put points up and you can never count out Denver, especially if they get home field. And we can't forget Pittsburgh either.

The Louisiana Superdome re-opens for Monday night football as Drew Brees and the Saints take on Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons in a matchup of two teams unbeaten in the NFC South. If the Saints want to make the Superdome celebration a good one, the defense must stop the rushing attack of the Falcons, led by Vick and Warrick Dunn.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Rutgers Ranked for First Time in 30 Years

By The Associated Press

No joke. Rutgers is ranked. The Scarlet Knights, long a college football laughingstock, moved Sunday into The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in 30 years.

No. 23 Rutgers (4-0), led by tailback Ray Rice, the fourth-leading rusher in the nation, is off to its best start since 1980 after beating Howard 56-7 on Saturday.

"I'm not going to downplay it. It is significant considering where we started," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "It shows we're making progress in the right direction."

The Scarlet Knights were one of three new teams at the bottom of the new media poll, which was mostly unchanged at the top.

Ohio State is still No. 1 with 59 of a possible 65 first-place votes. No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Southern California and No. 4 West Virginia each received two first-place votes.

Auburn had 1,513 points and USC had 1,491. The Tigers lead over the Trojans grew nines points from last week.

No. 5 is Florida, followed by Michigan, Texas, Louisville, LSU and Georgia. The only change in the Top 10 was No. 9 LSU flip-flopping with No. 10 Georgia.

Throughout the 1990s, the Scarlet Knights were among the worst teams in Division I-A, routinely getting blown out by their Big East rivals.

Last year, in Schiano's fifth season at the state university of New Jersey, Rutgers had its first winning year since 1992. The Knights went 7-5 and played in the Insight Bowl, their first bowl game since 1978.

The Knights have benefited from an early weak schedule — three I-A opponents with a combined 4-8 record and a I-AA team — but of course it wasn't long ago Rutgers couldn't beat anybody.

The Scarlet Knights were 3-20 in Schiano's first two years. They also had a 25-game conference losing streak from 1999-2003.

Schiano, a New Jersey native, was 10 years old the last time Rutgers was ranked in 1976. Those Scarlet Knights went 11-0 and reached as high as No. 17 in the country.

"I don't think of it in a historical perspective," he said. "You need to win to get into those polls, and the Rutgers program has had some up and down times as we know. I'm glad it's happening now and hope to keep it going."

The other new teams in the poll were No. 24 Georgia Tech, which has lost only to Notre Dame in its opener, and No. 25 Missouri (4-0).

Missouri is ranked for the first time since the second week of the 2004 season.

Virginia Tech is No. 11 followed by Notre Dame, Iowa, Oregon and Tennessee. The next five were Oklahoma, TCU, Clemson, Florida State and California.

No. 20 is California with Nebraska No. 21 and Boise State at No. 22.

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College Football Notes: Week 4

Week four of the college football season will be known as the week of fourth quarter comebacks.

Notre Dame saved its season by battling back from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to hand Michigan State a 40-37 defeat.

QB Brady Quinn threw for 319 yards and five touchdowns as the Irish (3-1) out-pointed the Spartans 19-0 in the fourth quarter. Terrail Lambert returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown with 3:30 remaining to seal the victory. Michigan State fell to 3-1 on the season.

A loss would have crushed the slim national title hopes that Notre Dame still has.

Top ranked Ohio State struggled with the Penn State defense through most of the game, but thanks to the Buckeye defense, came alive in the second half for the 28-6 victory.

The game was much closer than the final score indicated. Two late interceptions for touchdowns gave Ohio State (4-0) the large margin of victory. RB Antonio Pittman ran for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Big Ten rival Michigan continued to play solid football with a 27-13 win over Wisconsin. The Wolverines (4-0) were led by Chad Henne and WR Mario Manningham. Henne passed for 211 yards and two scores, while Manningham caught seven passes for 113 yards and two TDs. The Michigan defense held the Badgers to only 12 yards rushing.

Louisville may have been the most impressive team on Saturday. The eighth-ranked Cardinals, without starting QB Brian Brohm and RB Michael Bush, ventured out to Manhattan, Kansas and demolished Kansas State, 24-6. Backup QB Hunter Cantwell, passed for 172 yards and one touchdown to lead Louisville (4-0) to victory.

Georgia has a new hero and his name is Joe Cox. The Bulldogs, down 13-0 in the fourth quarter to Colorado, replaced Matthew Stafford at QB with Cox and the freshman led Georgia to two fourth quarter touchdown drives to avoid the upset. Cox was 10-of-13 for 154 yards and two touchdowns as the ninth-ranked Bulldogs improved to 4-0.

Nate Longshore completed 17-of-25 passes for 270 yards and four touchdowns to lead the California Golden Bears to the impressive 49-21 victory over Arizona State in a battle of ranked teams. Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 yards to help the Golden Bear cause. Cal has rolled off three nice wins since losing to Tennessee in the season opener.

The only top 25 team to lose was Boston College, who fell 17-15 to North Carolina State in Raleigh. Wolfpack QB Daniel Evans connected on a 34-yard scoring pass to John Dunlap with just 21 seconds remaining to pull off the upset. The Eagles (3-1) had won their last two contests in overtime but this time the close game didn't go their way.

Other scores from the top 25: Auburn 38, Buffalo 7; USC 20, Arizona 3; West Virginia 27, East Carolina 10; Florida 26, Kentucky 7; Texas 37, Iowa State 14; LSU 49, Tulane 7; Virginia Tech 29, Cincinnati 13; Iowa 24, Illinois 7; Tennessee 33, Marshall 7; Oklahoma 59, Middle Tennessee State 0; Florida State 55, Rice 7; Clemson 52, North Carolina 7; Nebraska 56, Troy 0; and Boise State 41, Hawaii 34.

The upset of the week once again came at the expense of the under-achieving Northwestern Wildcats. After losing in week two to I-AA New Hampshire, the Mildcats, I mean Wildcats, fell 31-21 Friday night to Nevada. The victory marked the first time the Wolfpack (2-2) had ever beaten a Big Ten team. Robert Hubbard led Nevada with 156 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Highlight games for week five include: Alabama (3-1) at Florida (4-0); Purdue (4-0) at Notre Dame (3-1); Georgia Tech (3-1) at Virginia Tech (4-0); Oregon (3-0) at Arizona State (3-1); Texas Tech (3-1) and Texas A&M (4-0); Ohio State (4-0) at Iowa (4-0); and Michigan (4-0) at Minnesota (2-2).

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

NFL Week Three Features Key Division Games

Week three of the National Football League kicks off with plenty of division games and of course, divisional play equals rivalries and rivalries equal spirited football.

This week especially has some key division games with first-place clubs. Chicago-Minnesota, Jacksonville-Indianapolis, Pittsburgh-Cincinnati and Atlanta-New Orleans on Monday night are ones to watch.

Throw in the Giants-Seahawks and Denver-New England and this has the makings of a pretty fine week for football fanatics everywhere.

There are plenty of excellent games on tap for any football connoisseur, so set back, grab your chips and dip, get your fantasy football sheets out and enjoy the games.

Here's the Corners predictions for week three in the NFL:

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Should be a real good game between the two powers in the AFC South. The Jaguars defense had a coming out party last week and now the whole world knows how good they are. But the Colts are at home where Peyton Manning is even more deadly. Plus, the Jags had a short week after playing on Monday night. Winner: Colts.

Chicago at Minnesota
After opening with Green Bay and Detroit, the Bears will finally be tested against the Vikings. If Minnesota hopes to win then Brad Johnson must be the man because even with Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota is not going to run on this Chicago defense. If Rex Grossman continues to play hot, look out NFC. Winner: Bears.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Big Ben had a 100 degree fever and was beaten up pretty good by Jacksonville on Monday night. Now comes the rival Bengals into Heinz Field so Roethlisberger must be ready. Cincy has an improved defense and the offense picked up where it left off last season. Willie Parker needs to step up in a big way in this game. The Bengals have marked this game on their calendar ever since Carson Palmer was hurt in the playoffs. Look for the road upset. Winner: Bengals.

New York Giants at Seattle
Eli and the boys come into Seattle on an emotional high after the Eagles gave them the game last Sunday in OT. Unfortunately for the Giants, I don't think the Seahawks will be so kind. Seattle has had problems running the ball but the passing game should pick up with Deion Branch seeing his first action of the season. The Seattle defense has been tough in the early going. Winner: Seattle.

Carolina at Tampa Bay
Two playoff teams from a year ago are in a must win situation already this early in the season. With Atlanta playing New Orleans the loser of this game would fall three games back in the NFC South and most likely end any playoff chances. The Bucs offense has scored only three points and Chris Simms is struggling. The Panthers get Steve Smith back in this game. Winner: Carolina.

New York Jets at Buffalo
Chad Pennington has bounced back from injuries and is having a great start to his season. The Bills are improved under Dick Jauron as evidenced by their dominating performance over the Dolphins in Miami. The Jets need to find a running game because they haven't been able to run effectively so far. Look for Bills back Willis McGahee to have a big game. Winner: Buffalo.

Washington at Houston
At least Brunell doesn't have to master the Al Saunders offense in this game. The Redskins defense will be too much for the Texans to overcome. Winner: Washington.

Baltimore at Cleveland
The Ravens defense is playing like the old Ravens defense when Ray Lewis was a younger man. That spells trouble for the Browns. Winner: Baltimore.

Philadelphia at San Francisco
The 49ers are much better than last season that's for sure, but Donovan McNabb is back in form and the Eagles need to go out and have a great game after last week. Winner: Philadelphia.

St. Louis at Arizona
Yes the Cardinals offense is awesome, but did anybody get a look at their defense? If the Rams are ever going to straighten out their offensive woes, this is the game. Winner: St. Louis.

Tennessee at Miami
They may play to a 0-0 tie. But since it's down in Miami and the Titans really are a bad team, Daunte Culpepper should pick up his first win as a Dolphin. Winner: Miami.

Green Bay at Detroit
As Charlie Brown likes to say, "Ugh." This game will only be watched by true diehard fans. Winner: Detroit.

Denver at New England (Sunday night)
Rematch of the playoff game easily won by Denver. Jake Plummer is struggling and Broncos fans want his head on a silver platter. The Patriots are the most shaky 2-0 team out there, but the revenge factor and home field is on their side. Winner: New England.

Atlanta at New Orleans (Monday night)
The opening of the Superdome should have the Saints and their fans pumped up big time. The problem is the defense must stop Warrick Dunn, Michael Vick and the Falcons running game, which leads the NFL. Still, with all the emotion and pride on the line and Drew Brees at quarterback, the Saints should be able to get the job done. Winner: New Orleans.

Dallas, Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego have byes. Last week the Corner was 13-3 in predictions.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

No Separation Saturday This Week

After an amazing week that saw seven games featuring ranked teams and a huge controversy with Oklahoma-Oregon, this week should be fairly mild and sedate.

Only two games feature ranked teams facing each other: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 24 Penn State and No. 21 California versus No. 22 Arizona State.

The Buckeyes look to gain some revenge against one of the teams to beat them last season, the Nittany Lions. Penn State came away with a 17-10 victory at Happy Valley, but now face the daunting task of taking a rebuilt defense out to Columbus to face the explosive offense of Troy Smith and Co.

Here's the Corners predictions for this weeks Top 25 battles:

Penn State (24) at Ohio State (1)
The Nittany Lions need to stay close early and play ball control to have a chance or this could get ugly fast. The Buckeye offense may be the best in college football with Smith, RB Antonio Pittman and wideouts Ted Ginn, Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez. If Penn State can't keep the OSU offense off the field - look out. Winner: Ohio State.

Buffalo at Auburn (2)
This is Buffalo's first game ever against an SEC opponent. They should have scheduled Vanderbilt instead. Winner: Auburn.

USC (3) at Arizona
The Trojans have won four straight against the Wildcats. No wait, make that five straight. Winner: USC.

West Virginia (4) at East Carolina
Dynamic duo of RB Steve Slaton and QB Pat White are too much for the Pirates to handle. Winner: West Virginia.

Kentucky at Florida (5)
Expect another big day from QB Chris Leak as the Wildcats venture down to the swamp. Winner: Florida.

Wisconsin at Michigan (6)
The Wolverines could have a letdown after the Notre Dame game and their big jump in the poll. Badger fans wish Barry Alvarez was still on the sidelines. Winner: Michigan.

Iowa State at Texas (7)
The Cyclones have offensive talent in QB Brett Meyer and RB Stevie Hicks. The Longhorns defense hasn't given up 100 yards rushing in any game this season. Winner: Texas.

Louisville (8) vs. Kansas State
My upset special this week. The Cardinals are riding high after stunning Miami and are primed for the upset. With RB Michael Bush and QB Brian Brohm both out for the season, the offense may sputter at times. The Wildcats are tough to beat at home and their defense is one of the best in the Big 12. Winner: Kansas State.

Colorado at Georgia (9)
Freshman QB Matthew Stafford played well for the Bulldogs last week against UAB. Georgia has had back-to-back shutouts and could make it three in a row playing the offensively challenged Buffs. Winner: Georgia.

Tulane at LSU (10)
The Tigers lost a tough, hard-fought ballgame to SEC rival Auburn and the defense, ranked number one in the country, held Auburn to seven points despite the loss. LSU managed only a field goal against Auburn. No such worries about the offense in this contest though. Winner: LSU.

Cincinnati at Virginia Tech (11)
The Hokies always feast up on an easy schedule early in the season and this year is no exception. Virginia Tech has out-scored opponents 109-10 thus far. Winner: Virginia Tech.

Notre Dame (12) at Michigan State
Charlie Weis should have the Irish and QB Brady Quinn ready to bounce back after a blowout loss to Michigan. It won't be easy however. QB Drew Stanton has looked solid so far for the Spartans and Michigan State has beaten Notre Dame seven of the last nine games. Winner: Notre Dame.

Iowa (14) at Illinois
Drew Tate is back and playing like a true leader. The Illini are definitely not the fighting kind this season. Winner: Iowa.

Marshall at Tennessee (15)
The only way the Thundering Herd would have a chance in this game is if they brought Chad Pennington and Randy Moss back. Winner: Tennessee.

Middle Tennessee at Oklahoma (17)
The Sooners are ticked after last weeks controversial loss to Oregon. The officials won't be given a chance to determine the outcome of this game. The mercy rule should be adopted for this contest. Winner: Oklahoma.

Rice at Florida State (18)
You either have to admire the Owls and new coach Todd Graham or else think they're crazy. Rice finishes up a three-game stretch that saw the Owls take on UCLA, Texas and now the Seminoles. At least they get some nice fat game checks for the school. Winner: Florida State.

North Carolina at Clemson (19)
The Tigers don't win pretty, but they do win. The Tar Heels are a team in flux. Clemson should win another close one. Winner: Clemson.

Boston College (20) at North Carolina State
The Eagles are praying they don't have to play another overtime game this week, while Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato is praying that Mario Williams and Manny Lawson were still in school and not in the NFL. Winner: Boston College.

Arizona State (22) at California (21)
One thing is for sure, this will be a high scoring game between two high-powered offenses. What a surprise. A Pac-10 game with no defense being played. Winner: California.

Troy at Nebraska (23)
The Huskers at home against Troy. This could get ugly in a hurry. Winner: Nebraska.

Hawaii at Boise State (25)
The Broncos have bounced back into the top 25 for the first time this season. They'll still be there next week. Winner: Boise State.

I didn't start previewing the games until last week, but for fun I'm going to keep a running tally the rest of the season to see how I do. Last week I was 15-3.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Football Fanatics Show

The first podcast of the Football Fanatics Show is up and going. The show features myself, Rich 'Richie' Hagan and Damon Freed chatting about pro and college football.

The Football Fanatics Show is a podcast for college and pro football fans featuring hard-hitting commentary with a tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Hell, we may even offend some people.

Each week will preview the upcoming games and look back at the week before. We'll also be giving away some prizes and freebie stuff in future shows. So stop on in and check us out. The show will be on every Thursday during the football season and twice a month during the offseason.

You can listen to the show in streaming media here.

Or you can download the podcast to your hard drive here. This is a big file so be patient and if you don't have broadband, I suggest you listen to the streaming version.

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NFL Week Three Injury Report

Get your fantasy lineups ready for this weekends contests by studying the week three injury report released by the NFL.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT HOUSTON TEXANS -- Washington Redskins: QUESTIONABLE: CB Shawn Springs (Abdomen); RB Clinton Portis (Shoulder); DT Joe Salave'a (Calf). PROBABLE: TE Todd Yoder (Concussion). Houston Texans: OUT: CB Demarcus Faggins (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: CB Phillip Buchanon (Ankle); C Mike Flanagan (Foot); DE Antwan Peek (Groin). PROBABLE: LB Morlon Greenwood (Ankle).

CHICAGO BEARS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS -- Chicago Bears: QUESTIONABLE: DE Israel Idonije (Ankle); S Cameron Worrell (Knee). Minnesota Vikings: QUESTIONABLE: WR Marcus Robinson (Hamstring); G Artis Hicks (Shoulder); WR Troy Williamson (Shoulder).

NEW YORK JETS AT BUFFALO BILLS -- New York Jets: DOUBTFUL: C Trey Teague (Ankle). QUESTIONABLE: CB David Barrett (Hip); WR Laveranues Coles (Calf); WR Tim Dwight (Thigh); G Pete Kendall (Thigh). PROBABLE: DE Dave Ball (Thigh); LB Matt Chatham (Foot); QB Chad Pennington (Calf); S Kerry Rhodes (Ankle);
DT Kimo Von Oelhoffen(Knee). Buffalo Bills: QUESTIONABLE: LB Takeo Spike (Hamstring); S Matt Bowen (Shin).

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT DETROIT LIONS -- Green Bay Packers: DOUBTFUL: T Junius Coston (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: CB Al Harris (Shoulder); TE David Martin (Knee); CB Will Blackmon (Foot); G Jason Spitz (Thigh). Detroit Lions: OUT: WR Shaun Bodiford (Knee);
S Kenoy Kennedy (Foot); LB Alex Lewis (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: T Barry Stokes(Hamstring); G Ross Verba (Hamstring); T Rex Tucker (Knee). PROBABLE: DE Cory Redding (Ankle); DT Shaun Rogers (Knee).

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -- Jacksonville Jaguars: QUESTIONABLE: RB Derrick Wimbush (Knee); S Donovin Darius (Back); WR Matt Jones (Groin); TE Marcedes Lewis (Ankle); CB Rashean Mathis (Knee); G Chris Naeole (Knee); WR Chad Owens (Ribs); LB Mike Peterson (Knee); S Gerald Sensabaugh (Ankle); DE Paul Spicer (Groin); DT Marcus Stroud (Ankle); LB Patrick Thomas (Ankle); DE Marcellus Wiley (Groin). Indianapolis Colts: QUESTIONABLE: LB Gary Brackett (Calf); RB Ran Carthon (Finger); T Ryan Diem (Hand); RB De De Dorsey (Ankle); DE Dwight Freeney (Buttock); LB Gilbert Gardner (Hand); CB Nick Harper (Ankle); TE Ben Hartsock (Hamstring); LB Freddie Keiaho (Knee); DE Ryan LaCasse (Foot); G Ryan Lilja (Knee); DT Montae Reagor (Knee); DT Darrell Reid (Elbow); S Bob Sanders (Shoulder); G Jake Scott (Knee); DT Corey Simon (Knee); QB Jim Sorgi (Right Shoulder); WR Brandon Stokley (Ankle); DE Josh Thomas (Hip); TE Ben Utecht (Concussion); K Adam Vinatieri (Right Groin).

TENNESSEE TITANS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS -- Tennessee Titans: OUT: TE Erron Kinney (Knee); DE Antwan Odom (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: T Jacob Bell (Toe); RB Ahmard Hall (Ankle); RB Travis Henry (Toe); CB Reynaldo Hill (Knee); LB Robert Reynolds (Thigh); DT Robaire Smith (Hamstring). Miami Dolphins: OUT: G Joe Berger (Foot); G Bennie Anderson (IR/Triceps). QUESTIONABLE: CB Travis Daniels (Ankle); LB Derrick Pope (Hamstring); WR Marty Booker (Ankle).

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS -- Cincinnati Bengals: OUT: C Rich Braham (Knee); S Dexter Jackson (Ankle); LB A.J. Nicholson (Hamstring); WR Tab Perry (Hip). DOUBTFUL: WR Antonio Chatman (Groin); WR Antonio Chatman (Groin). QUESTIONABLE: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Heel); DT Sam Adams (Knee); LB Brian Simmons (Knee); CB Deltha O'Neal (Knee); G Eric Steinbach (Back); WR Chris Henry (Groin); T Levi Jones (Ankle).
Pittsburgh Steelers: QUESTIONABLE: WR Santonio Holmes (Foot); S Troy Polamalu (Shoulder);. PROBABLE: CB Bryant McFadden (Quadricep); LB Larry Foote (Groin); WR Hines Ward (Hamstring); WR Nate Washington (Finger).

CAROLINA PANTHERS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS -- Carolina Panthers: OUT: LB Dan Morgan (Concussion). DOUBTFUL: S Shaun Williams (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: CB Ken Lucas (Neck); WR Steve Smith (Thigh); WR Drew Carter (Hand); RB Nick Goings (Thigh); C Justin Hartwig (Groin). PROBABLE: LB Jason Kyle (Shoulder). Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OUT:
G Davin Joseph (Knee); TE Dave Moore (Rib). QUESTIONABLE: DT Chris Hovan (Ankle); CB Brian Kelly (Foot); DT Anthony McFarland (Hip); LB Ryan Nece (Knee).

NEW YORK GIANTS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -- New York Giants: OUT: RB Derrick Ward (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: S James Butler (Knee); WR Sinorice Moss (Quadricep). PROBABLE: WR Tim Carter (Ankle); TE Jeremy Shockey (Ankle). Seattle Seahawks: OUT: TE Jerramy Stevens
(Knee); G Floyd Womack (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: TE Itula Mili (Knee). PROBABLE: RB Shaun Alexander (Foot).

ST. LOUIS RAMS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS -- St. Louis Rams: DOUBTFUL: T Orlando Pace (Concussion). QUESTIONABLE: LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (Elbow). Arizona Cardinals: QUESTIONABLE: LB James Darling (Calf); CB Eric Green (Groin).

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -- Philadelphia Eagles: DOUBTFUL: CB Roderick Hood (Heel); CB Lito Sheppard (Ankle). QUESTIONABLE: TE L.J. Smith (Shoulder); RB Brian Westbrook (Knee); TE Mike Bartrum (Knee). PROBABLE: G Shawn Andrews (Shoulder); DE Darren Howard (Knee); S Michael Lewis (Quadricep); S Quintin Mikell (Thumb); RB Reno Mahe (Ankle). San Francisco 49ers: OUT: G Larry Allen (Knee); TE Delanie Walker (Shoulder). DOUBTFUL: WR Taylor Jacobs (Hamstring. QUESTIONABLE: DT Anthony Adams (Ankle). PROBABLE: DE Ronald Fields (Shoulder); T Jonas Jennings (Ankle); G Justin Smiley (Shoulder).

BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS -- Baltimore Ravens: QUESTIONABLE: LB Adalius Thomas (Foot); DT Aubrayo Franklin (Thigh); T Jonathan Ogden (Knee); CB Samari Rolle (Ankle); RB Musa Smith (Knee); LB Ray Lewis (Neck); DT Haloti Ngata (Back); RB Jamal
Lewis (Thigh). Cleveland Browns: OUT: DE Nick Eason (Ankle). DOUBTFUL: TE Darnell Dinkins (Hamstring); CB Gary Baxter (Pectoral); DE Orpheus Roye (Shoulder); WR Joe Jurevicius (Ribs). QUESTIONABLE: LB Willie McGinest (Calf); S Brian Russell (Elbow);
RB Reuben Droughns (Shoulder). PROBABLE: TE Kellen Winslow (Knee).

DENVER BRONCOS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- Denver Broncos: OUT: RB Cedric Cobbs (Ankle). DOUBTFUL: DE Courtney Brown (Knee). PROBABLE: RB Mike Bell (Finger); WR Rod Smith (Head). New England Patriots: QUESTIONABLE: S Artrell Hawkins (Thigh); WR Chad Jackson (Hamstring); T Nick Kaczur (Shoulder). PROBABLE: QB Tom Brady (Right Shoulder); T Matt Light (Knee); WR Doug Gabriel (Hamstring).


ATLANTA FALCONS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -- Atlanta Falcons: QUESTIONABLE: WR Roddy White (Shoulder); LB Edgerton Hartwell (Knee); DE John Abraham (Groin). PROBABLE: DE Patrick Kerney (Tricep); S Kevin Mathis (Hamstring); G Kynan Forney (Shoulder); T Wayne Gandy (Groin). New Orleans Saints: DOUBTFUL: RB Mike Karney (Calf). QUESTIONABLE: DT Brian Young (Shoulder). PROBABLE: C Jeff Faine (Foot); LB Terrence Melton (Hamstring).

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sooners Upset at Pac-10

Oklahoma would consider canceling its game
at Washington in 2008 if the Pacific 10 Conference does not change
its rule requiring Pac-10 officials to be used at its home
stadiums, Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday.

Last week, the Sooners (2-1) gave up two touchdowns in the final
72 seconds and Garrett Hartley had a go-ahead 44-yard
field-goal attempt blocked in a 34-33 defeat at Oregon.

However, the second touchdown came after Oregon recovered an
onside kick that did not travel the requisite 10 yards.
Oklahoma challenged the call, but it was upheld following a
video review.

On Monday, the Pac-10 Conference suspended the officiating crew
and video reviewers one game for their actions. That did not
satisfy Sooners coach Bob Stoops, whose team's BCS bowl
aspirations took a hit.

"I find it still absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable, in
particular (the) people who had an opportunity to review it all
and look at it and get it right," Stoops said. "They chose not
to. You discern whether a one-game suspension is appropriate
for those individuals.

"I'm not talking about people in the heat of the moment out
there in the middle of the chaos. I'm talking about people who,
like every viewer at home, had an opportunity to see it. It's
not for me to decide what is appropriate, but I think it's fair
to say that a one-game suspension compared to the way our season
now is altered, I don't know if that fits the situation."

On Monday, Oklahoma president David Boren sent a letter to Big
12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg asking him to pursue having the
Pac-10 remove its officiating policy.

"I think there's no question that (athletic director) Joe
Castiglione and I and President Boren, if that rule is not changed
that we may reconsider that game, and I think it's justified. We'll
look into that."

Oklahoma defeated Washington 37-20 on Sept. 9 in the first game
of the home-and-home series.

The Sooners also played a home-and-home series against UCLA of
the Pac-10 in 2003 and 2005. The game at Oregon concluded a series
that began in Norman in 2004.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Impressive Defenses Highlight NFL

Defense has been front and center two weeks into the NFL season. After three shut outs last week, San Diego and Chicago were just minutes away from back-to-back shut outs, while Jacksonville did the trick Monday night against the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers.

The Jags were so dominant that Pittsburgh only crossed midfield once and finished with only one, that's right, one rushing first down!

The Bears, Ravens and the Chargers have been the most impressive teams to start the season and barring injuries and inconsistency, are legitimate threats for the Super Bowl. Jacksonville is till not quite there offensively and until that side of the ball improves, the Jaguars are not a Super Bowl contender. A playoff team, yes, AFC champs, no.


Chicago looks downright scary. The defense was the best in football last season as far as points allowed and so far in 2006, Da Bears have picked up right were they and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera left off.

The Bears have given up a whopping seven points in two games, second in the league with a 3.5 average, while surrendering 256 yards a game, good enough for fifth in the NFL.

The front seven is nasty with MLB Brian Urlacher and OLB Lance Briggs leading the way. Chicago has allowed only 74 yards per game on the ground and is tied for third in the league with nine sacks.

The real story though is the maturation of QB Rex Grossman. The former Florida standout is finally healthy after two years of injuries that caused him to miss 29 games. He's comfortable in the offense and is the surprise NFL leader in passer rating after two weeks with a 128.7 mark.

Grossman has thrown for 551 yards on 38-of-53 passing (71.7%) with five touchdowns and one pick. Add a solid offensive line and the running tandem of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson and you can see why the Bears are putting fear into the hearts of the NFC. If the offense, especially Grossman, continues to perform like this - the Super Bowl could be calling.

San Diego

The Charger defense looks just as nasty as the Bears. San Diego is second in total defense (173.5), fifth against the rush (71.0), first against the pass (102.6) and tied with Chicago for second in scoring defense (3.5). In addition, the Chargers have recorded nine sacks, three by last years Rookie of the Year, Shawne Merriman.

The big improvement for San Diego is pass defense. Last season the lightning bolts were 24th defending the pass and head coach Marty Schottenheimer worked hard in the offseason to improve his secondary.

S Marlon McRee was signed away from Carolina and CB Antonio Cromartie was drafted in the first round. They were plugged into a secondary that returned Quentin Jammer and Drayton Florence at the corners and Terrence Kiel and Bhawoh Jue at safety. So far, everything has worked out.

Offensively, LaDainian Tomlinson and his backup Michael Turner are running the ball very effectively. New QB Philip Rivers is completing passes at a 71 percent clip with zero turnovers, just what the coaching staff wanted. Keenan McCardell is ageless and Antonio Gates has six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown early on.

San Diego was snakebitten last season with four losses that occurred in the final minutes of play. This season, a more experienced defense and a better offensive line have Charger fans thinking big in 2006. If they keep playing this way, the fans just may be right.


The Ravens defense has its swagger back after two dominating performances to start the season.

After shutting out Tampa Bay in the opener, Baltimore dissected the Raiders 28-6 on Sunday. The Ravens lead the league in total defense (152.0), scoring defense (3.0), and rushing defense (32.5). In addition, the purple and black are third in pass defense (119.5) and first in turnover margin with a plus-8. The Ravens have collected nine sacks, six interceptions and forced three fumbles.

A healthy Ray Lewis and the additions of free agent DE Trevor Pryce and rookies DT Haloti Ngata and S Dawan Landry have made the difference. Adding Ngata and Pryce to a line that already had Kelly Gregg and Terrell Suggs gives Baltimore it's best D-line since the 2001 Super Bowl victory.

Lewis and OLB Adalius Thomas are tackling machines and the secondary of Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle at the corners and Ed Reed and Landry at safety may be the best in the game.

Even worse for the AFC, the Ravens are finally scoring points. Steve McNair has give the Baltimore offense leadership, work ethic and hustle and that has shown up on the scoreboard. The development of Mark Clayton at wide receiver and the signing of Mike Anderson in the off-season has added offensive depth were there was none before.

The AFC North is now a three-team race. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had better keep a careful eye on this Ravens squad.

Defense is ruling the roost early on in the 2006 season and the above mentioned teams are riding the crest of that wave. The Bears are a serious challenge to Seattle in the NFC and the Ravens, Jaguars and Chargers have made an already formidable AFC even stronger.

Bad news on the injury front for Philadelphia fans. DE Jevon Kearse sprained his MCL and ACL ligaments and will be lost for the season. Kearse, the 1999 Rookie of the Year, has been plagued by injuries over the last several seasons.

Also gone for the year are Cincinnati LB David Pollack (broken neck), Houston T Charles Spencer (broken leg) and Minnesota DE Erasmus James (knee).

Terrell Owens will miss 2-4 weeks with a broken finger, Raiders QB Aaron Brooks will be out 2-4 weeks with a pectoral injury and Rams LT Orlando Pace may miss 1-2 weeks with a concussion.

The Chargers made news today by trading an undisclosed draft choice to the Tennessee Titans for QB Billy Volek.

This is a good move for San Diego, considering Rivers' backup was Clemson rookie Charlie Whitehurst. In Volek, the Chargers have an experienced, seasoned backup who has started 10 games in his seven-year career, all with the Titans.

Volek was expected to be the starter who groomed top pick Vince Young for a year or two, but fell out of favor with the Jeff Fisher and GM Floyd Reese. The Titans signed Kerry Collins a week before the regular season began and demoted Volek to third string. The former Fresno State signal caller openly voiced his displeasure with the Collins signing and asked Tennessee to trade him.

Volek is 312-of-517 (60.3%) for 3,505 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his career.

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Mistake Causes Small Change in AP Poll

By The Associated Press

Boston College moved into sole position of the No. 20 ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 on Monday, after the poll was recalculated to fix a mistaken ballot.
The revised poll breaks a 20th-place tie between Boston College and Arizona State, dropping the Sun Devils into the No. 22 ranking behind California.

Poll voter Ken Tysiac of The Charlotte Observer said he mistakenly sent his Sept. 10 poll ballot, rather than his Sept. 17 ballot, to The AP on Sunday.

"I cut and pasted the wrong file, the previous week's file, into the e-mail that I sent to the AP," Tysiac said Monday, shortly after submitting the correct ballot.

Even though the only change was in the order of the Nos. 20, 21 and 22 teams, AP sports editor Terry R. Taylor said the poll was recalculated to maintain its integrity.

"While we normally do not allow votes to be changed, it was clear in this case that an outdated ballot had been inadvertently submitted and we simply allowed the correct ballot to be substituted," she said.

Tysiac said Observer readers caught his mistake after the paper published his ballot, as it does each Monday during college football season. He said several readers e-mailed to ask why he had Notre Dame ranked ahead of Michigan, despite the Wolverines' 47-21 victory at South Bend, Ind., on Saturday.

"So I went back and checked the record of what I sent," he said. "That's when I realized, 'Oh, crud … '"

It is the first time in memory that The AP has re-issued a college football or college basketball poll to correct such a mistake.

Retabulating the poll with Tysiac's intended ballot broke a 20th place tie between Boston College and Arizona State, who each had 384 points in the original poll. Boston College now has 393 points, while Cal has 386 points (up from 383) and Arizona State remains at 384 points.

Cal and Arizona State won't remain so closely bunched for long. The Golden Bears host the Sun Devils this Saturday.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

NFL Roundup: Week 2

Some observations, comments and opinions about Sunday's NFL games.

Indianapolis 43, Houston 24
Peyton Manning passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns and receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne top 100 yards in the victory. The Colts actually got some running accomplished too with Joseph Addai (82 yards). Indy looks really sharp early on.

New Orleans 34, Green Bay 27
Drew Brees looked solid with 353 yards and two scores. The Saints, under new head coach Sean Payton have jumped out to a 2-0 record. Reggie Bush came down to earth this week, but a win is a win.

Cincinnati 34, Cleveland 17
The Battle for Ohio was rough and physical, three Bengal starters were injured in the game, but in the end Carson Palmer and the offense were too much for the Browns. Palmer shook off his first game rust and threw for 352 yards and two TDs, while Rudi Johnson collected 145 yards rushing and two scores.

Chicago 34, Detroit 7
The Bears are the most impressive team in the NFC right now. The defense has surrendered only seven points in two games and the offense is clicking with QB Rex Grossman. Yes, I know the Packers and the Lions aren't the best competition, but it's still impressive nonetheless. If Grossman, who threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns, continues to play like this, look out NFC. Where oh where is the Mike Martz offense? The Lions have scored only 13 points in two games.

Baltimore 28, Oakland 6
The Raven defense looked dominant once again. The offense struggled early, but McNair and company got it going in the second half. Cheer up Raider fans, at least they scored this week.

Atlanta 14, Tampa Bay 3
The Falcons have come out of the gate looking sharp with key divisional wins over Carolina and now Tampa Bay. Warrick Dun had another solid day (134 yards) and Michael Vick broke the 100-yard mark with 127 yards rushing. What's happened to the Bucs offense? Yes, Chris Simms threw for a ton of yardage (353), but he also had three picks. In two games Tampa has scored a whopping three points.

New York Giants 30, Philadelphia 24 OT
This was a crushing loss for the Eagles. This is the kind of setback against a division rival that can ruin a season. Up 24-7 going into the fourth quarter, Philadelphia gave the game away as the Giants scored 23 unanswered points. Eli Manning (371 yards, 3 TDs) and Donovan McNabb (350 yards, 2 TDs) had great games, but in the end the difference was Amani Toomer (12-137-2) and the inability of Sheldon Brown and the other DBs to cover him. Philly also lost Jevon Kearse to injury in this game.

Minnesota 16, Carolina 13
What the hell was Chris Gamble thinking? The Panthers are up 13-6 in the fourth quarter and he tries to lateral the ball across the field during a kickoff return. Amazingly stupid. The Vikings recovered, scored the touchdown on a scoring toss by kicker Ryan Longwell (huh?) to force overtime and then Longwell boots the game winner. The Vikes are now 2-0 and Carolina, the Corners choice for the Super Bowl, is struggling big time at 0-2.

Buffalo 16, Miami 6
Daunte Culpepper and the Dolphins continue to struggle on offense, while the Bills did just enough to pick up the victory down in Miami, a place where Buffalo has had major problems.

Seattle 21, Arizona 10
The Seahawk defense shuts down the vaunted, high -powered Cardinal offense to pick up a key division win. Darrell Jackson (5-127-1) had a big game, but Shaun Alexander (89 yards) continues to struggle on the ground. The Seattle defense forced five fumbles and collected five sacks, while limiting Arizona to just 256 total yards.

San Francisco 20, St. Louis 13
No matter what St. Louis coach Scott Linehan says, it's time for fans and coaches to worry about the once vaunted Ram offense. Counting the preseason, St. Louis starters have scored one touchdown in 13 quarters. The 49ers, not known for a powerhouse defense, racked up six sacks and held the Rams to 265 yards of total offense. If that wasn't enough for Rams fans to take, LT Orlando Pace and LB Pisa Tinoisamoa left the game with injuries. Frank Gore burned St. Louis for 127 yards rushing and Antonio Bryant caught four passes for 131 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter.

San Diego 40, Tennessee 7
The Charger defense almost recorded its second straight shutout, but gave up a late fourth quarter score to the Titans. Backup RB Michael Turner ran for 138 yards, while LaDainaian Tomlinson picked up 71 yards and two scores. It's looking more and more like Tennessee will be in a battle all season with Oakland for worst team in the AFC.

New England 24, New York Jets 17
The Patriots took a 24-0 lead, but had to fend off a feisty Jets squad in the second half to pull out the victory. Chad Pennington (306 yards, 2 TDs) had another solid outing, but the Patriot defense collected four sacks and came away with an interception to preserve the win.

Denver 9, Kansas City 6 OT
A defensive struggle that was ended in OT by a 39-yard Jason Elam field goal. Larry Johnson rebounded from a disappointing opening day with 127 yards, but KC, under the direction of backup QB Damon Huard, couldn't find the end zone. The Broncos offense, one of the best in 2005, has scored only one touchdown in 2006.

Dallas 27, Washington 10
The Redskins are struggling to learn offensive coordinator Al Saunders' playbook and it showed again last night. Although not having Clinton Portis doesn't help either. The Cowboy defense picked up five sacks and an interception to dominate Washington for most of the night and Drew Bledsoe, after being vilified by the Dallas media and fans, threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Terrell Owens broke his finger in the game and will miss 2-4 weeks.

Charlie Batch will try to make it 4-0 as a Pittsburgh starter when the Steelers face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football. Batch will have his hands full against a very tough, underrated Jags defense.

While it's still too early to know what's going to happen down the road, the two most impressive teams to start the season have been the Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers. Everyone knows the Bears have a defense and now Grossman is finally healthy and developing into a solid quarterback.

The Chargers have a solid defense and a decent offense with L.T., Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates. QB Philip Rivers was the big question mark with the team this season and right now, he's doing what he's been told to do - protect the football and not make any stupid turnovers. If he continues to do this San Diego could be making a lot of noise in the AFC.

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Miami Falls Out, Auburn Moves Up

By The Associated Press

Miami is out of the rankings for the first time
since 1999, and Auburn is the new No. 2 in The Associated Press Top

The Hurricanes' latest lopsided loss -- a 31-7 debacle at
Louisville -- ended a streak of 107 consecutive poll appearances
that was the nation's longest current streak.

"That doesn't really change anything," Miami coach Larry Coker
said Sunday. "The poll didn't help us yesterday and the poll won't
help us tomorrow. Doesn't change anything."

With seven games matching ranked teams on Saturday, the poll got
its first significant shake-up of the season.

Not at the very top, though, as Ohio State remained No. 1 for
the fourth straight week. The Buckeyes received 59 first-place
votes from a panel of 65 media members.

Notre Dame's first loss of the season vacated a spot right
behind Ohio State, and Auburn took advantage.

The Tigers, who beat LSU 7-3, have their highest ranking since
tying for No. 2 with Oklahoma on Nov. 13, 2004. The Tigers received
two first-place votes and are the third team to hold the second
spot in the Top 25 this season, along with Notre Dame and Texas.

"We've got a lot of games to play. We're very fortunate to be
where we're at," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I don't
know whether we're a top-five team. We're playing pretty good, but
we're not playing to our potential on both sides of the ball yet."

Auburn was 13 points ahead of No. 3 USC.

West Virginia was up to No. 4. Both the Trojans and Mountaineers
received two first-place votes. Florida was fifth, up two places
after a 21-20 win at Tennessee.

In the USA Today coaches' poll, Ohio State was No. 1 with USC
second and Auburn, West Virginia and Florida rounding out the top

Michigan moved up five spots to No. 6 after its 47-21 victory at
Notre Dame, and the Fighting Irish fell 10 spots to No. 12. Texas
was No. 7, and the Longhorns now have the longest current streak of
poll appearances at 96, dating to Oct. 15, 2000.

Louisville moved up four spots to No. 8 after sending Miami to
its first 1-2 start since 1997. The Hurricanes received 78 points,
leaving them second behind Alabama among the others receiving

Georgia was No. 9 and LSU slipped four spots to No. 10. No. 11
was Virginia Tech, followed by Notre Dame and Oregon, which jumped
five spots after its wild 34-33 victory over Oklahoma.

No. 14 was Iowa and Tennessee dropped two spots to 15th. TCU
moved up four spots to No. 16 after extending the nation's longest
winning streak to 13 games.

Oklahoma dropped two spots to No. 17 and Florida State fell nine
spots to No. 18 after it lost 27-20 to Clemson. The Tigers' victory
put them back in the rankings at No. 19.

Arizona State and Boston College were tied at No. 20. The final
four were California, Nebraska, Penn State and Boise State.
Nebraska was down four spots after a 28-10 loss at USC, and Boise
State joined the rankings for the first time this season.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

College Football Notes: Week 3

Hello Louisville, welcome to the big time. You definitely separated yourself on Separation Saturday.

The Cardinals, under the direction of coach Bobby Petrino, totally dominated Miami 31-7, to grab the biggest win in school history. Louisville's defense was destructive the whole game and the offense racked up almost 400 yards of total offense.

On the downside, Cardinal QB Brian Brohm tore ligaments in his wrist and will be out of action 4-6 weeks, meaning he won't be on hand for the Big East showdown with West Virginia.

Last week, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn put himself front and center of the Heisman race with a fantastic performance against Penn State. Yesterday, Quinn took a few steps back in the race with three interceptions in a 47-21 loss to Michigan. Mario Manningham had four catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Wolverines (3-0).

No. 1 Ohio State (3-0) struggled early with Cincinnati before breaking the game open in the second half for the 37-7 victory. Troy Smith moved to the forefront of the Heisman race with a 21-for-30, 205-yard, two touchdown performance. RB Antonio Pittman collected 154 yards and score.

The Auburn Tigers (3-0) took at step in the right direction in the national championship picture with a hard-fought 7-3 victory over LSU. Brandon Cox ran it in from 1-yard out and the Auburn defense held LSU off late in the game from the Auburn 5.

Dwayne Jarrett had 11 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns to lead USC to the impressive 28-10 victory over Nebraska. Jarrett now holds the Trojan record for career TD receptions with 31.

Florida (3-0) QB Chris Leak threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns, while the Gator defense limited Tennessee to -11 yards rushing in a 21-20 victory over the Vols in a key SEC contest.

Clemson RB James Davis scored from one yard out with eight seconds left in the game to give the Tigers the 27-20 upset of Florida State in the Bowden Bowl. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden is now 3-5 against his father Bobby.

Oregon scored two touchdowns in the final 1:09 to hand Oklahoma the 34-33 upset. Duck QB Dennis Dixon was 25-of-40 for 315 yards and three touchdowns. Oregon blocked a Sooner 44-yard field goal attempt in the final play to preserve the victory. Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson finished with 211 yards rushing and a touchdown.

TCU (3-0) made a nice statement in its 12-3 victory over Texas Tech. The Horned Frog defense has allowed only 23 points in three games and shut down the explosive Texas Tech run-and-shoot offense.

Boston College (3-0) stayed unbeaten on the season with its second consecutive overtime win. This one came after DB Jamie Silva intercepted a John Beck pass in double overtime to preserve the 30-23 victory over BYU.

The upset of the week was by Western Michigan, who stunned Virginia 17-10 on the road. The win marked the first time the Cavaliers had ever lost to a MAC team. Mark Bonds had 118 yards rushing with one touchdown to lead the Broncos.

Highlight games for week four include: Louisville at Kansas State; Notre Dame at Michigan State; Penn State at Ohio State; and Arizona State at California.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Week 2 Brings Division Rivalries Front and Center

Week two of the National Football League kicks off with plenty of division games and of course, divisional play equals rivalries and rivalries equal spirited football.

The first couple weeks of the NFL season are a feel out process and it usually isn't until about week three or four that the wheat starts to separate from the chaff.

Even so, there are plenty of excellent games on tap for any football connoisseur, so set back, grab your chips and dip, get your fantasy football sheets out and enjoy the games.

Here's the Corners predictions for week two in the NFL:

Arizona at Seattle
The Cardinal offense is one of the best in the league, but did anyone notice that the Redbirds gave up 27 points and a ton of yardage to San Francisco? Newly acquired WR Deion Branch probably won't play in this game, but at home the Seahawks should prevail. Winner: Seattle.

New York Giants at Philadelphia
Donovan McNabb looked like his old self in week one and Donte Stallworth could be a huge steal. The Giants played alright against the Colts, but Eli Manning's turnover killed their chances. New York has a brutal opening schedule (they travel to Seattle next week), but I can't see them going 0-3 to start the season. Brian Westbrook is gimpy and Lito Sheppard is out. Winner: New York Giants.

New England at New York Jets
Chad Pennington had a brilliant game in the opener and new coach Eric Mangini is a Bill Bellichick disciple. Could be an interesting matchup after the Pats filed a complaint with the league office accusing the Jets of tampering in the Branch situation. Winner: New England.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Cadillac Williams may not play and Atlanta is all a buzz after manhandling Carolina last week. If Warrick Dunn has another day like last Sunday, look out Bucs. Winner: Atlanta.

Kansas City at Denver
The Broncos played horribly against St. Louis last week and will be anxious to have a bounce-back game. The Chiefs will be without Trent Green and everyone knows it's almost impossible to beat the Broncos at home. Winner: Denver.

Detroit at Chicago
Air Martz was deflated in the opener against Seattle, while the Bears defense picked up where it left off last season. Lion receiver Roy Williams is guaranteeing a win this week. Doesn't he know how stupid that is going in to play the Bears? Winner: Chicago.

Oakland at Baltimore
Can the Raiders score a touchdown? Can they get past midfield? Can they win a game this season? Probably, but not this week. Winner: Baltimore.

Carolina at Minnesota
Carolina is banged up and the Vikings looked sharp against the Redskins last Monday night. Even so, the Panthers are a veteran team with a lot of pride and they can't and don't want to start 0-2. Winner: Carolina.

Houston at Indianapolis
Can you say blowout? Expect it in this game. Winner: Indianapolis.

Tennessee at San Diego
Fantasy owners who have the Chargers defense have a big smile on their collective faces. With slow-footed Kerry Collins at QB for the Titans, look for Merriman and Co. to have a big day. Winner: San Diego.

Cleveland at Cincinnati
The battle for Ohio bragging rights shouldn't be much of a battle. Chad Johnson and the Bengals keep the pressure on Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the rough and tough AFC North. Winner: Cincinnati.

Buffalo at Miami
The Bills played decent against the Patriots, but heading down to face the Dolphins, who are very good at winning home games in September, will be a problem. Winner: Miami.

New Orleans at Green Bay
Back in the day, the Packers under Brett Favre were practically unbeatable at home. Too bad those days are gone. Winner: New Orleans.

St. Louis at San Francisco
Jim Haslett had the Rams defense playing like those during the Jack Youngblood days. The offense hasn't scored a touchdown through the preseason and against Denver, but that should change this week against the porous 49er defense. Winner: St. Louis.

Washington at Dallas (Sunday night)
The Cowboys kicked off the Terrell Owens era with a loss to Jacksonville. The Redskins will be without the services of Clinton Portis and with the offense struggling to learn Al Saunders' 700-page playbook, an 0-2 start looks like a good possibility. Winner: Dallas.

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville (Monday night)
The Steelers will be without Ben Roethlisberger for another week so Charlie Batch gets the start. Batch is 3-0 as a starter for Pittsburgh, but the Jaguars have a very good defense that harassed Drew Bledsoe into throwing three interceptions and generally made his life hell. The Jags are better than people think and with Leftwich continuing to get better, this could be a nice win for the underdog Jaguars. Winner: Jacksonville.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

7 Games Highlight Separation Saturday

Seven games that feature all ranked teams will be the showcase for what's being called Separation Saturday.

Since the AP poll started ranking 25 teams in 1989, only one day, October 16, 1993, had more ranked teams faced each other.

This week will go a long way in clearing up the national championship picture, separating the contenders from the pretenders, and will definitely make or break athletes in their quest for the Heisman as well.

It's going to be a great weekend for football fans, West Virginia already kicked things off with an impressive 45-24 victory over Maryland. Mountaineer RB Steve Slaton, who was rejected by the Terps during his recruiting, burned them for 195 yards and two scores. The sophomore now has 503 yards rushing in just three games.

Here's the Corners predictions for this weeks Top 25 battles:

Cincinnati at Ohio State (1)
There's a chance the Buckeyes may be looking ahead, but I doubt it. Troy Smith and company should have no problem against the Bearcats. Winner: Ohio State.

Michigan (11) at Notre Dame (2)
The Wolverines haven't won in South Bend since 1999, but have the weapons (Chad Henne, Mike Hart) to pull out the victory if things fall into place. Beating Charlie Weis and QB Brady Quinn at home seems like a daunting challenge though. Winner: Notre Dame.

LSU (6) at Auburn (3)
The premier game of the day on paper. The LSU Tigers come to Jordan-Hare stadium loaded with talent, led by strong-armed QB JaMarcus Russell. The other Tigers over at Auburn have a decent QB too in the person of Brandon Cox. The difference maker will be RB Kenny Irons and the home crowd. Winner: Auburn.

Nebraska (19) at USC (4)
The Cornhuskers are coming back to prominence under head coach Bill Callahan, but still don't have all the pieces to match with the Trojans and their speed playing at home. Winner: USC.

Florida (7) at Tennessee (13)
The Vols have the advantage of being at home, but the defense is banged up in a big way and Chris Leak looks more and more comfortable running Gator coach Urban Meyer's spread option. Winner: Florida.

Texas (8) at Rice
The Longhorns look to rebound after last weeks loss to Ohio State and get to take out their frustrations on the Owls. Rice has improved under new coach Todd Graham, but Texas has way too much firepower. Winner: Texas.

Clemson at Florida State (9)
A key game in the ACC with the Tigers looking to rebound after a loss to Boston College. The Seminoles are 2-0 and have a rugged defense, but the offense has struggled and been inconsistent in their first two games. Clemson is banged up on defense and that could spell big trouble in Tallahassee. Winner: Florida State.

UAB at Georgia (10)
This game could be closer than people expect. The Bulldogs have lost starting QB Joe Tereshinski for 4-6 weeks and now the job falls to true freshman Matthew Stafford, one of the top recruits in the nation. If he struggles, it could be an interesting game. Winner: Georgia.

Miami (17) at Louisville (12)
The Cardinals have been impressive in their two victories thus far, but the Hurricanes bring tons of talent and speed to the table. Without RB Michael Bush, Louisville may have to have QB Brian Brohm pass all day. Not good against Miami, who feature arguably the best secondary in college football. Winner: Miami.

Duke at Virginia Tech (14)
The only time the Blue Devils will be in this game is during the coin toss. Winner: Virginia Tech.

Oklahoma (15) at Oregon (18)
The Sooners have Adrian Peterson on offense, but that's been it to start the season. The defense is a little shaky as well. The Ducks have their own feature back in sophomore Jonathan Stewart and QB Dennis Dixon has run the spread attack of Mike Belotti perfectly so far. Oregon is a tough place to play and even though Oklahoma is favored, look for the Ducks to come away with the win. Winner: Oregon.

Iowa State at Iowa (16)
Both squads come in 2-0 in the battle for Iowa bragging rights. The Cyclones pulled out the victory last season, but Drew Tate is back after missing last weeks game and with Albert Young and company at home, all signs point to the Hawkeyes. Winner: Iowa.

Texas Tech (24) at TCU (20)
Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson has been close to breaking through that BCS bubble and this year, with the addition of a fifth BCS bowl game, has a chance to do it. He could make a statement this week against the Red Raiders, who once gain have a QB putting up gaudy numbers in their run-and-shoot attack. TCU has the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games. If RB Aaron Brown can pile up yardage and the defense can stop the Texas Tech passing attack, give it to the Frogs. If not, Tech could put up 70 with that offense. Winner: TCU.

Portland State at California (21)
The Golden Bears get a breather against a I-AA squad. Winner: California.

Arizona State (22) at Colorado
The Buffaloes are seriously struggling, limping out of the gate at 0-2, including an opening week loss to I-AA Montana State. The Sun Devils should cruise. Winner: Arizona State.

BYU at Boston College (23)
The Eagles are an underrated team but opened some eyes with last weeks win over Clemson. The Cougars have some skill and this should be a close game, but give the edge to BC at home. Winner: Boston College.

Youngstown State at Penn State (25)
The Nittany Lions were embarrassed last week by Notre Dame and come into this football game angry. Youngstown State is a I-AA team coming into Happy Valley so the prospects don't look good. Then again stranger things have happened - just ask Colorado and Northwestern, both have lost to I-AA schools this season. Winner: Penn State.

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