Top search of the month: NFL expert picks
It seems the only thing users enjoy as much as watching NFL games each week is predicting which teams will win. The weekly NFL expert picks provides users an opportunity to test their prediction skills against some of the best NFL analysts, former players and Accuscore (collectively, the "brain trust of Bristol University"). At the time this story was written, the newest member to the "brain trust," Adam Schefter (35-13), trailed only the incomparable Chris Mortensen (36-12) in correct picks. Whether users were taking part in the predictions through Pigskin Pick 'Em, or just merely checking to see if their personal picks matched up with the experts', the weekly NFL expert picks continued to dominate throughout September, amassing more than 220,000 searches.
No. 4 Boxing: As Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez hit the canvas, people hit the search button. Not surprising since it garnered more than a million pay-per-view buys -- only the fifth non-heavyweight fight ever to do so.
No. 11 Michael Crabtree: To sign, or not to sign? With contract talks somewhere in the "eight figures" range, it might be a no-brainer for most of us. Users searched for news about the off-field distraction, but with the 49ers looking so strong are the fans even paying attention anymore?
No. 12 Michael Jordan: Although his Basketball Hall of Fame induction alone garnered many searches, it was Jordan's speech -- considered ungracious by some -- that most likely drove his numbers up. With the way he tried settling scores at the podium, he might even voice some qualms for not being No. 1 on this list.
No. 14 Michigan Wolverines: Sitting pretty at 4-0, Rich Rodriguez's team already has one more win than it did all of last season. Funny how winning can make people forget just about anything like allegations of NCAA violations. (See No. 11)
No. 19 Serena Williams: Williams lost in the U.S. Open, but you wouldn't know it judging from her search numbers. The manner in which she lost, though -- berating the judge and losing the match's final point for unsportsmanlike conduct -- created enough buzz to get her on this list.
Surprise Search of the Month: Melanie Oudin
The 2009 U.S. Open was chock full of surprises -- from Clijsters' amazing championship run after a two-year absence to Serena and Venus Williams' early exits -- but it was 17-year-old Melanie Oudin who managed to be the biggest surprise as she won over fans and knocked out the competition with her gritty, come-from-behind play. Oudin, the then-70th ranked player, defeated No. 4 Elena Dementieva, No. 29 Maria Sharapova and No. 13 Nadia Petrova before falling to No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. After generating only 87 searches in August, Oudin was September's surprise search garnering 4,823 queries (an increase of 5,444 percent).
The Complete Top 25
Check out the ESPN Search Index for the latest buzz in search, including the top daily searches, surprises and movers.
Maalek Marshall is ESPN.com's search editor.
Note: The results listed are the summation of actual search results that were manually typed in by site users of ESPN.com in said month of 2009. All prelinked searches (including columnist archive links) were excluded from this summation.