November 18, 2005
Tony Stewart:
With a substantial points lead, Stewart should win NASCAR's Nextel Cup in the season finale in Miami this weekend.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
FRESNO.  FRENZY.

Fresno State will beat USC!

Or should I say:
Fresno State will beat USC?!

I want to pick Fresno State to upset USC. I really do.

I want to remind fans that Fresno's only loss was by 3 on the road at Oregon, a top-10 team that rebounded after an early-season loss to USC.

And that Bulldogs QB Paul Pinegar may yet emerge as a more successful NFL QB than Matt Leinart (if only because Pinegar won't end up taking snaps behind the MOST woeful team).

And that Fresno State is coached by Pat Hill, a Bill Belichick disciple who surely sees similarities between this game and his mentor's Super Bowl XXXVI upset win over a Rams team as prolific offensively (and obviously favored) in the NFL as this USC team is in college.

(And I want to ride my rare momentum from picking both Alabama to lose to LSU last week AND Georgia to lose to Auburn. Sunshine and dogs' butts come to mind.)

And, most of all, you know you're rooting with me because a Fresno State win would absolutely wreck what is currently a tidy BCS national-title scenario. Only one unbeaten is as bad as having three.

But I'm not that bold.

McNabb: Done for '05?
What are his other options? Play through the pain and risk further injury? Become increasingly less effective? All for a team headed for a spot in the playoffs on the couch in January?

I've long been an advocate that no one but the athlete themselves should make season-ending (or career-ending decisions). But if I could endorse a position, it's that McNabb get the surgery and come back in '06.

Any Eagles fans who lament that decision are missing the bigger picture. The playoffs haven't just passed the team by for 2005; this team left its most successful era behind last winter (sort of like the Red Sox).

T.O.: Settling?
T.O. appeals his suspension and deactivation today. I'd like to see the suspension upheld, but the deactivation struck down, because it seemed a little too draconian, even for Andy Reid.

The latest reports are that T.O. is trying to settle. I thought he would be about the playing, but he's apparently just about the paying.

Colts-Bengals: Wow!
Forget Colts-Patriots: THIS is the NFL game of the year so far, between the league's clear-cut No. 1 team and one that many (including me) have tabbed as No. 2.

With the game in Cincy and Bengals Mania as crazy as it has been in a generation, this is the best chance any team has this season of beating the Colts.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Taurean Green: Gators soph PG nets career-best 23 in W
Jason Bay: Pirates pony up for talented OF (4Y/$18.25M)
Kevin Garnett: 25 pts, 13 reb, 9 ast as Wolves defeat Wiz
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Atlanta Hawks: Keep pace with Raps as NBA's only winless
Georgia Tech: 2-year probation for using ineligible jocks
7th Floor Crew: Miami coach Coker makes rap topic verboten
 
The Bengals haven't exactly played the toughest schedule. They had an early win over the Bears, but Chicago's D contained Carson Palmer. They lost to the other two contenders they played (Jags, Steelers).

The Colts have a D with more mo' this season than any of those teams. And the best offense the Bengals will see all season. That's why a win for Cincy would be such a humongous Prove-It. (Not that they're going to.)

More NFL Week 11
If McNabb McSub McMahon can get the Eagles past the Giants on the road, maybe that would nudge Donovan toward season-ending surgery.

If it wasn't for Indy-Cincy, the Panthers-Bears game in Chicago would be the game of the week. Can the Bears prove their legitimacy?

How bad could things get for the Pats? Well, they could lose to the Saints this weekend. That would be rock bottom.

Did the NFL schedule-makers intentionally give the Steelers the easiest opponents while Big Ben sits out? Maddox starts vs. the sorry Ravens.

Think the Falcons are motivated after being humiliated by the Packers last week? The visiting Bucs just have to be happy they even got to 6-3.

Simply put: If the Redskins don't win at home against a team they should beat (Oakland), their season is as good as over.

To keep pace in the ultra-competitive AFC, the Jaguars (6-3) can't overlook the 2-7 Titans.

Expect LaDainian to return from the Chargers' bye week at home vs. the Bills ready to silence anyone who suggested Shaun Alexander was his equal.

The Chiefs might stomp the Texans in Houston, but home fans can jeer that at least they've hosted a Super Bowl.

More CFB: Rivalry!
This week: I-Yawn Bowl

Alabama (8) at Auburn (11):
Last week: What a huge game!
This week: I-Yawn Bowl

Ohio St. (9) at Michigan (17):
Last week: CFB's best rivalry
This week: UM as the spoiler

Penn St. (5) at Michigan St.:
LW: Joe Pa's Big 10 to lose!
TW: Obviously, a trap game.

Paula vs. Annika
Only a sexist would make a catfight reference about the ball-drop argument (and hot new rivalry) between Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam.

Instead, focus on the fact that the 19-year-old Creamer is feisty enough to take on the LPGA's living legend. Yet another signal that the new generation of LPGA stars (Creamer, Wie, Pressel) are fearless enough to revolutionize the sport.

"Potter" Mania
Finally, a sports tie-in to the "Harry Potter" movie series that we can all get behind: The Triwizard Tournament at the center of "Goblet of Fire."

The "TWT" is kind of like a cross between soccer's World Cup and AAU basketball tournaments, except the Slytherin-ish street agents who pose as AAU coaches are replaced with kindly wizards.

I'd offer to run an office pool, but if you can't figure out who's gonna win, it would be too cruel to take your money.

Jeremiah Trotter:
"We would love to have T.O. back," said the Eagles LB on "Cold Pizza" Thursday. Apparently, Trotter didn't get the team talking points.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
Katz on CBB
 
More NFL W11 Subplots
DET at DAL
On paper, a Cowboys win
 
NYJ at DEN
Broncos cruise to 8-2?
 
SEA at SF
Another big day for Shaun
 
ARI at STL
Playing for . . . um, pride?
 
MIA at CLE
Winner a respectable 4-6
 

NFL Week 11 Office-Pool Picks: ATL, CAR, MIA, DAL, JAX, STL, NE, NYG, WAS, PIT, SEA, IND, DEN, SD, KC (SNF), GB (MNF) (LW: 7-7, Season: 93-47)

Florida brought Dickie V-like enthusiasm in an upset over Wake at MSG; Gators PF Al Horford is a surprise No. 9 on Chad Ford's NBA Draft Top 100.

Florida will face Syracuse, who whupped Texas Tech. As Andy Katz points out, the winner is worth tracking as a dark horse March contender. (Q It Up)

NIT: UCLA and Memphis advanced to next week's semis in NYC, setting up a showdown of fantastic soph PGs: Darius Washington vs. Jordan Farmar.

MLB Hot Stove: AJ Burnett is the new Carl Pavano. How 'bout a Burnett-a-palooza tour? Plus: Delgado pursued by Mets, O's. '04 redux?

Unlikely White Sox World Series hero Geoff Blum signs with the Padres. Maybe he's the piece to finally get them over .500.

One year ago this weekend, the NBA endured its most humiliating event of the ESPN Era: The Brawl at the Palace. Celebrate with an arena hot dog!



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