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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - SEP. 9

By Joe Nelson
Posted 09/10/2013 at 02:33 PM

Many felt this was the year the SEC East might produce a team that could challenge the West powers for the conference and national titles. Two weeks into the season the top three contenders in the East are all sitting with a loss already. The good news is that all the losses have come against seemingly high quality teams and a one-loss SEC East champion that goes and beats Alabama or LSU in the SEC championship will still have a clear path to the final BCS championship game in just about every possible scenario. The same cannot be said for other title hopefuls that fell last week, Texas and USC. Home losses to Washington State and blowout losses at BYU are not forgivable in the polls and it would be somewhat stunning if both Lane Kiffin and Mack Brown were still on the sidelines a year from now.

While the loss last week for Texas does not take them out of the Big XII race it may indicate that the picture is wide open. Oklahoma State looks first in line and Oklahoma could make some noise if the offense starts to get it together. The most dangerous team in the Big XII may be Baylor however. The Bears have played light competition so far but seeing what Baylor did to Buffalo compared with what highly ranked Ohio State did in the same matchup is not meaningless. The Bears are a matchup nightmare for defenses and this is a team that looks likely to be 7-0 when they host Oklahoma in November. Baylor has a brutal gauntlet of late season games that will be tough to sweep but it is clear that Art Briles has done a truly amazing job in Waco with an assist to the attention RGIII has brought to the program.

The opening minutes of the first NFL Sunday featured several bizarre plays with three separate games opening the scoring with a safety. After the fireworks in the opener Thursday in Denver with 76 points scored the ‘under’ was the way to go on Sunday, hitting in 8 of the 10 Noon games before the three later games all proved to be higher scoring. No matter how ugly a team looks the dog also proved to be still worth backing when the line climbs to double-digits with Buffalo and Oakland both covering easily and actually in great position for major upsets before falling just short. Home underdogs getting double-digits are now on a 19-2 ATS run, strong enough to justify blindly backing any of those teams and there will be a few in the coming weeks.

Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel led the new crop of rookie quarterbacks with opening day starts and both played well, with Manuel nearly delivering a huge upset and Smith catching a late break to emerge 1-0 for the Jets. Terrelle Pryor also played commendably in his first starting effort for an Oakland team many assumed to be hopeless. The success of young quarterbacks, even those not drafted highly has to make teams like Jacksonville wonder what went wrong for them after another awful performance from Blaine Gabbert. In his time at Missouri Gabbert looked the part of a future NFL player, with gritty play-making and size that brought comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger but with the offense failing to score at home against a team that was also 2-14 last season, time may be up. After ugly debuts, Christian Ponder and Brandon Weeden have to be on alert as well. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…

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