Sept. 12, 2003
Southwest Conference:
Arkansas at Texas (Noon, ABC) brings back fun memories of bygone league: rowdy tailgates, power running games, massive NCAA violations.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
GOT.  DESPERATION.

A lot of NFL talk this week about not wigging out over a Week 1 loss. That's fine for duds like the Bears, Bengals, Chargers, Cardinals, Ravens and Jaguars. But for the wannabe contenders looking for that first W, one more loss will screw 'em good:

What a loss means for the ...
Packers (vs. Lions): New home-field disadvantage.

Eagles (vs. Pats): Ditto.

Patriots: Shouldn't they be in "dud" group anyway?

Rams (vs. 49ers): Hopeless QB situation

Raiders (vs. Bengals): Home loss vs. Cincy? Riots.

Dolphins (at Jets): Dave Wannstedt's job.

College Weekend
Say this about college football versus the NFL: You never hear college fans say, "Oh, don't get so excited, it's just one loss." With that, here are the three games of the week:

* N.C. St (22) at Ohio St (3): Clarett Karma is a boomerang, and if last week vs. San Diego State didn't quite freak the Buckeyes, a smack from the 'Pack sure will (Noon, ABC).

* Purdue at Wake Forest (21): Seems like Wake is having One of Those Years, somewhere Purdue has been. Maybe this week, the Wake students will finally figure out how to tear down the goalposts (Noon, ESPN).

* Notre Dame (14) at Michigan (7): The annual battle for Best Fight Song Ever is won by the Irish, but ND suffers through "Hail to the Victors" all day long (3:30, ABC).

Pennant Races
This weekend's games nicely capture why strength of remaining schedule will be the key factor in the tighter-than-Britney's-shorts AL and NL Central finishes.

BOXING ON RADAR: SUGAR SHANE OVER GOLDEN BOY
THE SET-UP: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR THE WEEKEND
1 NFL Sunday Night: Bears/Vikings, Jauron's seat stays hot
2 CFB in Prime time: PennSt/Neb, Ill/UCLA, Gtech/FlaSt
3 MLB: White Sox at Red Sox (AL); Cards at Astros (NL)
THE SIT-DOWN: DROP THESE FROM YOUR HOT LIST
1 MLB's 20-win barrier: Jays' Halladay gets there first
2 Van Exel as Warrior: Rumor -- to Knicks for Thomas, Ward
3 Jen and Ben's cancelled nuptials: For real? Not? (Yawn)
 
Advantage: Cubs
While the Cards and Astros beat up on each other, the Cubs play the Reds at Wrigley. SportsCenter had the stat Thursday night: Cubs' remaining opponents have a .441 win pct., the lightest by far of the three Central contenders. Prediction: Cubs finish 13-3 to win division.

Advantage: Twins
The White Sox have to play at on-a-mission Boston, but the Twins play at Cleveland. Aside from a huge three games with Chicago next week, the Twins finish with the Tribe and the Tigers. Laughers. Meanwhile, the Sox have Boston, KC and the Yankees. Ouch. The Twins should pull away, but how will they respond to the hospitalization of their third-base coach with a brain hemorrhage?

MLB Tiebreakers
Speaking of scheduling, nothing like a coin flip to potentially decide home field for playoff tiebreaker games, as MLB announced Thursday:

AL tie-breaker scenarios. East: Boston at New York ... Central: Chi at Min, Chi at KC, KC at Min... West: Oak at Sea ... Wild Card: Bos at Sea.

(What, no Yankees Wild Card scenario? Damn New York Bias.)

NL tie-breaker scenarios. Clip 'n Save. Central: Hou at Chi, Hou at StL, Chi at StL ... Wild Card (hold on to your hat): Phi at Fla, Fla at LA, Chi at Fla, StL at Fla, Hou at Fla, Phi at LA, Phi at Chi, Phi at StL, Phi at Hou, Chi at LA, Hou at LA, StL at LA, Hou at Chi, StL at Hou, Chi at StL. Omen: Phils go 0-5 in coin flips, Dodgers go 5-0. But what if there's a multi-team tie?

Obits: Cash, Ritter
Heartfelt condolences to the families and fans of uber-cool music star Johnny Cash, who passed away Friday from complications due to diabetes, and sit-com TV star John Ritter, who passed away unexpectedly late Thursday night. They will be missed.

CFL:
Maybe they don't want to tick off the NFL, but "stay-in-school" message to Maurice Clarett typical misplay for league that is barely afloat.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Wiley on J-E-T-S
NFL: Game of the Week
CFB: Viewer's Guide
 
"NFL Subplots" Edition
On your Marc
Rams start Bulger. (Yes!)
 
Hot seat I
Fins on road, Pack at home
 
Hot seat II
Saints host Texans: No lock
 
Grudge match
Spurrier vs. Doug Johnson
 
Yikes
Pats/Eagles loser 0-2
 

W2 office-pool suggestions: WAS, GB, TEN, PIT, SF, HOU, MIA, BUF, CLE, SEA, TB, DEN, PHI, OAK, MIN (Season: 9-7) ...

Jazz try extreme makeover, sign Jason Terry to offer sheet: Unlike pass-first Stockton, Terry never met a shot he didn't like ...

Think the ACC knows how to exploit its expansion? Revamped '04 league schedule kicks off Labor Day w/ Miami/Fla St ...

Weekend flicks on the radar: Lost in Translation, Matchstick Men, Cabin Fever ...

Still going in knockout pool: Week 2 pick -- Raiders (over Bengals) ...



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