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Fat Trash

Hi-de-ho folks, are you feeling as large and as inflated as I am? Jeebus. Santa sent me a box of edible goodies from Zingermans and then my wife started cooking. I believe I need just one more wafer thin mint…..

The NFL schedule is well under way for week 15. The Steelers already crushed the Panthers last Thursday night, and the hapless Cardinals won a squeaker over the feckless Cowboys last night. It was a pathetic, yet curiously fun game to watch. The best quarterback in the game was a rookie from Fordham. Scary.

The game of the day today is likely the Teh Jets at Da Bears. The Jets QB is nursing a sore shoulder; Rex Ryan would be far more interested if it was Sanchize’s foot instead. But Sanchez will start, and Ryan better focus on Brian Urlacher and the Bears defensive line, lest he suffer the agony of defeet. Jay Cutler is not exactly lighting the stat board up like Kurt Warner, but he has played a lot better and more consistently since being shepherded by Mike Martz. This game is really a tossup, maybe slight edge to the homeboys.

The “other” New York team, the Gents, are also in a huge game, which just so happens to be on the Frozen Tundra in the land of cheese. Aaron Rodgers is back for the Pack and should be fine, although the Giants have been rough on opposing quarterbacks this year. Both teams suffered crushing losses last week, the Pack to Brady and the Pats in a surprisingly close game without Rodgers, and the Giants, of course, in the soul crushing last second loss to Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson and the Iggles. Another pickem, with a slight edge to the home team.

I can’t decide which of the other games are the third best story today, so it is a tie between Vikes at Eagles and Peyton and the Colts visiting the Black Hole in Oakland. The latest from Adam Shefter is that the Eagles/Vikes game is postponed until Tuesday because of the wild winter storm invading Philly and the more tha half foot of snow expected during the game. More time for the Geezer to get ready! Now Favre versus Vick – that would be some kind of fun. The Colts really need a win against the Rayduhs, but it will be a lot harder than they want. I look for Manning to insure enough points to pull it out, but am very tempted to take the Silver and Black for the upset.

The Saints in Hot’Lanta Monday night should be a great game, but neither team’s playoff hopes ride on it. The Saints are coming on and Matty Ice and the Falcons never lose at home. The rest of the games are okay, but not great. Bucs should easily dispatch the SeaSquawks and the Bolts will kill the Bengals, who have just quit. Houston at Denver is only even worth a mention because it figures Gary Kubiak will be coaching one of these teams next year; which one is a good question. Sexy Rexy Grossman and the Deadskins should lose to the Jags and the Chefs should be able to cook the suddenly lost at sea Titans (unless Kerry Collins goes off, which he can still do). Ravens over Brownies and Bieber Brady and Pats over the Toronto Bills. That leaves the battle of the NFC West bulge, the 5-9 49ers at the 6-8 Rams. Obviously, with records like that, this game will likely decide the winner of the division crown and a playoff home game.

UPDATE – Ooops! Forgot the Kitties at the Fish. Cats eat Fish, then smack their lips.

The Walking Wounded The NFL Treats Like Disposable Trash

The bad news: Due to technical difficulties beyond our control, arrival of your Trash Talk thread has been delayed. The good news: The pilots have slept off most of their intoxication and managed to stumble into the cockpit and are ready for take off! I don’t know why, but it just seems like football, both pro and college, is in a weird doldrum recently. Boise State’s hard knocks overtime loss to Nevada took a lot of the anti-BCS anarchist intrigue air out of the balloon – although, to be fair, TCU is still there in that role I guess. Doesn’t seem the same though. And in the NFL, there just are not a lot of overly compelling story lines right now, although I think that will change when we get down to the last three weeks of the regular season.

Before we get down to the weekly game talk, there is a serious side of the business of football, a part that is not a game, that needs to be discussed. The long term health concerns of the players. As seemingly well paid and glamorous a job professional football player seems to be, the fact is when their career is over, these men are still relatively quite young chronologically but much older, physically compromised and beat up physically and, far too often as we now know, mentally too. The video from former NFL player and current NFL Player’s Association staff member Nolan Harrison describes player injuries as they relate to health and safety on the field and once a career is over.

The National Football League is insanely profitable. The average NFL game attendance league wide is 67,519. For every game of a 16 game schedule, and if you were not aware, teams make customers buying season tickets also buy tickets to at least two, sometimes three, preseason games at full regular season face value as part of the season ticket package. That is before you even get to the otherworldly television broadcast packages the NFL has negotiated, which are the most lucrative, by far, of any in the entertainment/sports industry. For the period of 2006 to 2013, the broadcast rights fees generated are: CBS $622.5 million/yr, Fox $712.5 million/yr, NBC $650 million/yr, and ESPN $1.1 billion/yr for a total yearly broadcast revenue of $3.085 billion per year. That is without delving into perhaps the most profitable income streams for NFL owners, the ancillary modalities such as merchandizing, advertising and concessions. There is a lot of money being made here, total revenue for the league was estimated to be over $6 Billion a year five years ago; it is undoubtedly significantly higher now.

With NFL owners threatening a lockout unless players agree to major concessions, the NFL is headed for a labor dispute that would leave stadium seats empty, TV screens blank and the Emptywheel Blog Trashless next fall. The knee jerk reaction may be that it is hard to get too worked up over a battle between billionaire owners and millionaire players, but keep in mind that the average NFL player is not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, has a average salary of well less than a million dollars a year and the average NFL career is only 3.5 years. That is pretty limited compared to the owners who have a lifetime license to sit back print money.

So, when the expected shutdown and lockout by the fat cat NFL owners occurs next season, keep in mind the disparity between the owners and players, and the very real long term health issues the players face as a result of earning the owners all that money and providing Sunday enjoyment for the rest of us. Beneath the high dollar glossy surface, it is still a fairness in a dangerous workplace issue with a union trying to better the conditions for the rank and file workers. Oh, and also keep in mind that the owners have negotiated TV deals that guarantee them revenues approachng $4.5 billion even if games are not played in the 2011 season. Coupled with the elimination of $4.4 billion in player salaries and benefits during a lockout, it could make a 2011 season without games still very profitable for the owners.

[Am going to add more substantive content shortly, but wanted to get this up for the peoples to yammer on in the meantime since both Quackers-Beavers and two chumps from the pay to play SEC Conference are currently in action]

Turkey Trash: Eat the Bird and Pass the Damn Ball

Times are tough all over. Why I even have some Big Wheel trying to repossess my Trash Talk. But I done securitized, privatized and lobotomized the damn thing to where she can’t really get her claws on it. So, I’m back!

First off, let me, and on behalf of Marcy, give you all the greatest of thanks for patronizing this blog. As I have said many times before, and I truly mean it, you folks are the greatest, brightest and most wonderful group of folks imaginable; and please know we completely realize and appreciate it. Thanksgiving and joy to one and all!!

Now, back to business, cause you know we never get sidetracked here (okay, that may not be totally true). I do not know diddly squat about food other than I like to eat it; this is a sports post and it will so reflect. Arrrrr! So, it is the traditional weird Thanksgiving schedule, and we are trashing way early; this post may maintain on through the Sunday slate, it may have to be superseded, we shall see.

In the first substantive thing on the slate, I would like to convey a big fuck you to the President of Ohio State University (sorry KLynn), who in true ugly Sweater Vest arrogant 2 yards and a clod ‘o sod fashion, has made a total ass of himself. From the NY Daily News: Read more

Trash Talk: Last Call For The F1 Circus, Crunch Time in NCAA Football

A little late to the post with Trash this weekend, had an issue crop up last night after a long week. But we are getting down to crunch time in both Formula One, last race of the season and it will decide the Drivers’ Crown, and it is now down to the last make it or break it couple of weeks in college football ahead of the conference championships. And, of course, there is a full slate of NFL games too.

So, I will be along in a bit with some actual content. Or maybe Marcy will slide some in too. I am sorry, long night and a bit of an aimless day so far and i need to get the post up and quit waiting for my fingers to spew out some malarky from me. So chat away, make your own prognostications and let loose. See, you get what you need!

Update: Okay, two bits of content, at least.

First, I think this is all a plot to make sure Boise State has a shot at #1 by the end of the year.

The No. 2 [Auburn] Tigers brushed off the storm brought by allegations of a pay-for-play scheme with another dominant offensive performance, beating Georgia, 49-31, in front of 87,451 to clinch the Southeastern Conference West championship and a berth in the conference title game.

There was a renewed allegation last week from an agent’s representative that Cecil Newton Sr., Cam Newton’s father, solicited money from Mississippi State when his son was being recruited. That is an N.C.A.A. violation that could result in Newton’s being declared ineligible, even if Cecil Newton did not solicit money from Auburn.

This is all headed to Auburn being disqualified just in time to leave Boise State with the best record.

And then there’s the NFL game of the weekend. Well, maybe not. While I’m looking forward to the Pats-Stillers game, I think the Brownies thumping of the Pats exposed the real New England, so I expect the home team Stillers to win handily.

Which brings us to the Ryan bowl.  In the Manning bowl, the expected winner–Peyton–won. And you gotta place $$ on Rex here. But I’m going to bet Rob Ryan’s Brownies surprise the J-E-T-S-Jets this weekend.

And in the loser bowl? The Bills will finally get their much deserved first win against the Stafford-less, Hanson-less Lions (though I hope not). Go Kitties.

Zenyatta! An LA Woman Runs For The Roses & History

There is great football this weekend, both by student and professional athletes. Obviously, that should be discussed in comments. It’s what we do here. Bizarrely as it may be, this blog exists in its current form because of some weird joining of legal thought and passion for football, with a smattering of divine intervention by Phred and perhaps a few too many pitchers of Beamish. Go figure; that is the randomness of entropy and the blogosphere. Nevertheless, here we are.

And so, here we are and I serve up a prime weekend Trash Talk of horse. Sue me if you object; my attorney, Mary, she of midwestern common horse sense, will answer and defend. Aggressively.

The story of Zenyatta was first adopted and incorporated by the Emptywheel blog just over a month ago when she ran to defend her crown in the Lady Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park in the City of Angels, California. Well, we are all in now. So much so that we had an official liveblog reporter at Hollywood Park for the Lady Secret, Rosalind. Rosalind not only went to Hollywood for the Lady Secret, she took pictures and came to feel the force that is Zenyatta. Although a bit bottled up and not quite as focused as normal, Zenyatta brought the heart of the champion she is and closed out a win, and defense of her crown, in the Lady Secret.

The Lady Secret win at Hollywood park made Zenyatta an unprecedented 19-0 in her racing career. She won the Breeders Cup Classic last year; other than the Triple Crown races of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the biggest, and arguably more annually competitive, horse race in the world every year. No woman had ever won this bring all comers race before, but Zenyatta closed out all the best boys in the world, in the biggest race in the world. In style.

Last years’ Breeder’s Cup Classic win made Zenyatta a star, and fixture among the greatest horses of all time, and almost certainly surpassing the truly remarkable and astounding Rachel Alexandra to take her place as the greatest filly of all time. But now comes the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic. Rachel Alexandra, other fillies, and indeed almost all other horses regardless of sex are either in the backseat, or paying damn close attention as Zenyatta makes a move on unquestionable immortality.

A second Breeders Cup Classic win against the best male horses the world has to offer would put Zenyatta in the untouchable category. Babe Ruth and Secretariat land. Where, arguably, no horse, male or female, has gone before. This is truly stunning stuff.

Now, I have no idea whether this horse can close the deal or not. But, at a remarkable and unprecedented 19-0, Zenyatta has earned the reputation, and buildup, that puts her in this position. Seriously. In spades. The last horse that came into a race like this with the weight of history and expectation of otherworldliness on it’s shoulders was Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. We know what happened in that race.

So, we shall see. There is stiff competition from the boys (so to speak). She will have to beat some studs including Paddy O’Prado, Blame and, perhaps most significantly, Bob Baffert’s Lookin at Lucky. Despite her eternal greatness, the odds and history are stacked against Zenyatta. While there is almost no chance Zenyatta will pull away from a talented field like Secretariat did in the 1973 Belmont, may the modern day Pegasus fly to a win of any nature and history!

There is also, of course, college and pro football; not to mention the penultimate race in the F1 Circus this year, the Brazilian Grand Prix. Somewhat incredibly, Fernando Alonso of the real red animal, the prancing horse of Ferrari, leads Mark Webber of Red Bull by eleven points going into Sao Paulo. Red Bull is fast in practice, but it is Sebastian Vettel leading the way. With only this race and Abu Dhabi left in the season, the race is indeed on!

It has been a long hard slog this week folks, let’s rip this joint and trash it up!

Trash Talk: It Is All About Dallas

Sometimes you just have to focus on what is important. And despite the concern over the Jack Tatum like tendencies of those out of control thugs in Pittsburgh, the most important story this week is Dallas. And it is hard to figure which Dallas is having a crappier week, Cowboys or Clark. You see, the Dallas Cowboys, well, they suck. And Dallas Clark suffered a severe wrist injury, apparently during the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Redskins, that will require season ending surgery. This is a huge injury as Dallas Clark is Peyton Manning’s safety blanket, with a 100 catch year last season and well on the way to another one this year. Not just any catches either, Clark is clutch. Comes at a horrible time for the Peytons too, as wide receiver Austin Collie is out and running back Joseph Addai is nursing a shoulder with nerve issues. The Colts have a bye and it looks like they need it.

NFL: It is not really an appealing slate of games this week. By far really the best one looks to be the Vikes visiting the Geezer’s old stomping grounds at Lambeau. They still do not resemble the team they were last year, but the Vikings seem to be coming together a bit finally. The Packers were pegged by many as Super Bowl bound, but have been literally decimated by injuries and are a disappointing 3-3 after six games. Help may be on its way for Green Bay though, with Al Harris, Atari Bigby and Clay Matthews all expected to return to the field. That is a lot of help, so it should be a fair fight. What could be better than a Sunday night game in the late fall in Lambeau with the Geezer playing the foil? No clue who will win, but it ought to be a hell of a game.

The Giants at the Boys doesn’t exactly carry the weight it usually does, but Dallas is desperate, and NY can really make a step toward the top of the NFC with a win; for a team that was said to be in turmoil just a couple of weeks ago, the Giants are suddenly looking pretty solid. Pats visit the curiously flailing Bolts. Heck, the Chargers are such a wreck even their former stars are off the road. Pats are plugging along; the offense will always be there and you just know Bill Bel will have the defense gelling as the season progresses. Tough week for the Bolts to rebound, even though they are at home; I’ll take the Pats. Raiders at Broncos could be interesting – maybe – but it is at Mile High, so edge to the Donkos. Eagles at Titans and Skins at Bears are the only other games even worth mentioning. Both are hard to read. If I had to bet, I would ride with the two Read more

Trash Talk: The Race Is On For Zenyatta

It is trash time, and we are going to have a first here because I am leading off with horse racing. Yes, horse racing! Because there is potential greatness in our midst. Zenyatta. Don’t believe me? How about Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, perhaps the greatest racing horse to ever walk the planet; from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“I just think Zenyatta is wonderful,” Chenery said this week on a conference call in which she discussed the new movie about her Triple Crown winner, “Secretariat,” set to go to post Oct. 8. “She’s like Secretariat in that she’s a great showoff. She’s well aware of who she is, and when she prances into the ring, she swells herself up.

“Secretariat used to do that. He’d come into the walking ring and blow himself up to intimidate the competition. And with her dance, it’s her opening number to prance into the walking ring. She’s so gorgeous and with such dominating speed. I’m crazy about her. She’s going to run this Saturday, so I’ll get to see her again. She’s just a blessing to the industry.”

Zenyatta, undefeated in her incredible 18-race career, makes her last start in California today [Saturday] in the Grade I, $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes at the Oak Tree meeting at Hollywood Park. She’ll try and win the race on Cushion Track three years in a row and use it as a final prep for her defense of the Breeders’ Cup Classic against the best male horses in the country next month at Churchill Downs.

Yes, Zenyatta has really been that good in her undefeated career. If you did not catch her run from behind, over the best male horses out there, to win the Breeder’s Cup Classic last year, maybe the biggest non-Triple Crown race there is, you should watch the clip I have attached; she was simply remarkable. If she can win these last two races, Zenyatta will go down amongst the greatest horses ever. Tall order, but this is a special horse. ESPN Classic will air a 90-minute special from Hollywood Park from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Lady’s Secret is expected to air on ESPN between college football games at approximately 4:15 p.m. (all times are PST/FDL time, so if you are on the east coast, add three hours). Bet you never heard the Dead cover George Jones before, but The Race Is On! Read more

Trash Talkin Texas Style

This week’s Lowell Thomas travelogue takes our rolling wheels on down south to Texas. Because the Lone Star State is where, by far, the most important and compelling game is to be found. That would be Jerry Jones’ ‘Boys visiting the upstart Houston Texans. In honor of our trip down south, we have two, count em two musical selections this week. The first is from that little old band from Tejas, ZZ Top with their classic tale of a trip to an, ahem, girls club – La Grange. A little bit o trivia, La Grange is the actual “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” made famous on stage and in film. The second selection is Gimme a T For Texas by Lynyrd Skynyrd in honor of the death of the actual namesake himself, Mr. Leonard Skinner.

But before we get down to the gridiron festivities, there is one big matter CHOMPing at the bits. Sharktopus! That’s right, tonight is the Emptywheel Sharktopus World Premier Sharktacular Extravaganza! The initial festivities kick off shortly before 9 pm Eastern time (8 pm Central) and will be hosted by Marcy, Eli from FDL and special guest Mystery Dub. Now, unfortunately, out here on the best coast, er left coast, we do not get the movie until 9 pm our time (that would be 9 pm Pacific, FDL and Arizona time), so I will be hosting a second set of festivities for all the west coast shark biters and bitees. This is the grand reemergence of the master of campy summer slasher movies, Roger Corman, and promises to be a load of really tacky and crazy fun. So, if you love seeing hot babes in bikinis frolicking and then being eaten by sharks – and who doesn’t?? – then join us tonight! (Much more after jump) Read more

Trash Talk: It Comes Out Of The Swamp Cool and Slow….

Comes out of the Virginia swamps

Cool and slow with plenty of precision

With a back beat narrow and hard to master

Some call it heavenly in it’s brilliance

Others, mean and ruthful of the Western dream….

I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft

We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping

Yes, it is the Texas Radio and the Big Beat. But, more importantly, it is this week’s Trash Talk …. and Sharktopus! Before we get down to this week’s slate of sporting festivities, we here at the incomparable Emptywheel blog have a truly special announcement! In one short week, on Saturday night September 25, 2010, we will be proudly going where no blog has gone before (thankfully probably). Yes, we will be liveblogging, FDL Mystery Theater 3000 style, the grand world premier of the movie of the century, Sharktopus!

As a special taser – er, teaser – I have attached the amazing trailer from this certain Oscar winning celluloid classic. And, thanks to the miracle that is cable TeeVee, you too will be able to watch and participate from the comfort of yer own abodes (i.e. For those scoring at home, and even those alone). This event will, MST3K style, be hosted by me, Eli from FDL and, if we can get her likkered up enough, Marcy (she needs some encouragement!). The event will go off next Saturday night at 9:00 pm EST, 6:00 pm PST/FDL time. The bar here will be open 20-30 minutes before the curtains go up. Bring your bikinis and shark repellant!

Student Athaletes: Okay, I’m going homer this week. And I ain’t talking Simpson. The game of the week is Iowa at Arizona. The 9th ranked Hawks fly into the 24th ranked Cat lair. Both teams are 2-0, and this is an always intense and entertaining Pac-10/Big-10 matchup – and not even in the Rose Bowl (that never happened except in the Rose Bowl when I was growing up; else Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes would have lost a lot more games). Two very top tier quarterbacks, Ricky Stanzi for the Hawks and Nick Foles for the Cats. Both teams have potent offenses and tough defenses to date in the still young season. You have to give the coaching edge to Iowa’s Kirk Farentz over the Benny Stulwiz like Bob Stoops for Arizona. But the contest is a night game on Bear Down Field in Tucson and that is special; Cats win in an upset.

Sticking with the homer routine, the other game of the day (I hope; cross my fingers, otherwise it could be a rout), is ASU at Camp Randall Stadium to visit the Wisconsin Badgers. Another Pac-10/Big-10 hookup. Just doesn’t seem right, but there you have it. I actually have friends with more dollars than sense who have travelled up to the Land ‘O Cheese to get a brat and see the game. Suckers. The Badgers are 11th ranked and always solid, if rarely exciting. The Badgers have a superior ground game, with the Devils having the slight edge at quarterback with Michigan transfer Steve Threet. ASU has also gone to the popular spread offense this year and they often run it hurry up style.. ASU is better tha people think, but the Big Bad Badgers are to much for them at Camp Randall.

Florida at Rocky Top to visit the Vols might be interesting if Florida keeps playing like a run of the mill team; but they should be able to get by the rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Kiffin Vols. Number 8 Nebraska goes to Seattle to take on Jake Locker and the Washington Huskies. This has got upset written all over it; Huskies remind the Cornfuskers they are just an average team – like Notre Dame – now. Lastly we got the Texas-Texas Tech tilt. With no Mike Leach on the sidelines, no way the Red Raiders keep up with the Whorens. Both schools are down a little, but Texas at least has a continuity facto and that is enough. Special mention for Pirates of the Gulf Coast, the Cougs of Houston and Casey Keenum travel to Rodeo Drive 90210 to visit UCLA. The Bruins are terribly disappointing and Keenum and the Cougs should win easy.

Professional Athaletes: Thunder Island is the talk of the town this weekend. Randy Moss promises to bring the old time Brady to Moss thunder and Darrelle Revis swears he is still an island. But that would be an island with a tight hamstring per the latest hard knock pre-excuse from the running mouth Jets. Sorry, Pats go 2-0 and put themselves in the division catbird seat while the still lost Mark Sanchez and the Jets fall to 0-2.

The remaining slate of games is not all that exciting, but there are a couple to note. Cardinals at Atlanta will tell us a lot about both teams. Cards won a squeaker last week but looked crappy on offense; Dirty Birds lost their opener to teh Stillers and do not want to go down to 0-2 in what was supposed to be a promising season. This game is a toss up. Same analysis holds for the Ravens at Bengals, but the strong wind is with Ray Lewis and the Ravens as Cinci bungles to 0-2. Sea Squawks at Doncos looks interesting; I may regret this, but I will take the Squawks. Lastly, the Manning Bowl. Dunno why, but I just cannot get as excited about this as I should. There seems to be some air let out of the Peytons these days and the Giants have been pretty blase ever since their improbable SuperBowl run a couple of years ago. But the Colts have the better Manning and better receivers for him to throw to, so I will take the Colts.

In the also ran category, I got the Saints over the Niners, Bolts over Jags, Raiders rout the Rams, Texans trample the Skins (could be good game though), Eagles and Mike Vick run wild on the Matt Stafford-less Lions, Vikings rebound over the Fish, Chiefs go to 2-0 over the Brownies, Panthers over Bucs, Packers obliterate the Bills at Lambeau, Cowboys and Bears and Stillers and Titans are both pick-ems. There is your schedule, get to talking about it folks

Might as well trash this joint, because after the Sharktopus rapture weekend a week from now, there will be no turning back. Let er rip. For the children.

Trash Talk: Big Blue v. Golden Domers, Other Football & F1

Okay, as promised, here is the real Trash Talk for the weekend. Not sure what other football games and sports there are after the Geezer’s debut Thursday night, but I will try to find some to talk about……

Hey, turns out there is a game in South Bend today! That’s right Wheelers and Wheelettes, it’s the Wolvereenies versus the Flighting Irish. Emptywheel versus Masaccio. Just like when they had the battle of the unvictorious and untieds in 2007 – except better! Both teams appear to be resurgent this year and, all joking aside, that is good for college football. Bothe teams come in at 1-0 and are desperate to get to 2-0 to make a run at a prime bowl spot. Michigan is keyed by Denard Robinson, the super soph quarterback. Last week against UConn, Robinson threw for 186 yards and ran for another 197 as the Wolverines rolled to a 30-10 victory. Thankfully, after last year’s fiasco, Rich Rod seems to have seen the light and made Tate Forcier permanent number two.

Notre Dame seems already to be much more disciplined and cohesive under new coach Brian Kelly. Look for QB Dayne Crist to go deep to Michael floyd, maybe the best receiver in the country, especially considering Big Blue’s defensive secondary is beat up. The real test in this game will be whether Notre Dames defensive front and linebackers can stop Robinson and Michigan’s running game. If they do that, Notre Dame wins, and that is what I expect, although it should be a pretty good game. If Robinson gets loose again like last week, however, the Wolverines will win easy.

There are a lot of other really good games on the bill too. First and foremost is The U at the Ohio State Sweatervests. We will see if Jacory Harris and the Canes are back enough to nip the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe. Also, Georgia at South Carolina, the newly Bowdenless Florida State Seminoles at Oklahoma, Penn State at Bama, Oregon at Tennessee and in an unusually early Pac-10 matchup, Stanford at UCLA. That is a hell of a lot of really good games.

PROS: The big tilt is of course on Monday night when Ray Lewis and the Ravens travel to the Jets Jets Jets and their loud coach and new stadium. That ought to be really something; two nasty defenses, both coached up at one point by Rex Ryan. Revis Island, Bart Scott and Jim Leohnard along with a solid line provide the Dee in the Jets’ fence. They will show up. So will Ray Lewis, although the other superstar ball hawk for the Ravens, Ed Reed, is out. Really, this game will come down to how the two offenses perform. In that category, you have to take the Ravens all the way with Flacco and Ray Rice over Mark Sanchez and a worn out LaDanian Tomlinson. Ravens get the job done

In other key games, the Boys and Romeo visit McNabb and the Skins. Everybody is high on the Boys this year, but I dunno. Still McNabb is banged up, so I will take the Boys this week; later maybe not so much. Pack at Iggles could be interesting. If Kevin Kolb is what he has looked to be in preseason and a couple of games last year, this might be interesting. Might, but won’t; Pack easy. Bengals at Pats; if the Bill Bels can muster any defense at all, they win – I think they will. I think the Lions at Bears may actually be pretty interesting just to see what happens. Lions should be MUCH improved, and who knows what the hell is up with the Bears, they could be good or horrible – who knows? I’ll take the Lions in what I guess is an upset. I saw some cluck on MSNBC website predict the Texans will beat the Peyton Mannings; nuh uh, Peyton scores too much for the Texans. Broncos beat the Jags, Stillers eke out a win over the Dirty Birds, Fish beat the Bills, Browns over the Bucs, Raiders upset the Titans, Eli and the Gents take the Panthers, Cards beat the Rams, SeaSquawks somehow over the Niners, and the Bolts kill the Chiefs.

US Open: Federer pulls one last major win over Nadal and Kim Clijsters wins another Open over Vera Zvonareva.

F1 Circus: This weekend the Circus sets down at the Autodroma Nationale de Monza for the one and only Italian Grand Prix. Monza is the fastest circuit on the tour and is a great track that always provides great racing. Not surprisingly, fast, good teams go fast at Monza, and so they did at practice. Sebastian Vettel led the way for Red Bull followed closely by the two home town heroes in red, the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa. The two Mclarens of Hamilton and Jenson Button followed with Mark Webber trailing with mechanical difficulties. This is another critical race with only three points separating Webber from Hamilton for the driver’s crown and only one point between Red Bull and McLaren for the Constructor’s Championship. The big chattering for the weekend has been over the use of team orders. FIA hit Feerrari with a $100,000 fine for the incident at Hockenheim. I have no clue why this is always so shocking in today’s F1, team orders have been a part of the Circus for over six decades; that is just the way it is and the way it is going to be. Ecclestone should give up the ghost on this one. The race goes off at 7:30 am EST and 4:30 PST Sunday morning on SpeedTV.