This weekend, and subsequent Monday certainly produced plenty of fine moments in the world of sports. Let’s see, the Houston Texans established themselves as the dominant force in the AFC, while the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons took a well-deserved break.
On the college stage, Florida and Kansas State embarrassed top 25 opponents in games that were supposed to be big-time showdowns… Then there was Monday, when in the Major League Baseball playoffs the San Francisco Giants completed another miraculous series turnaround by smacking the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh game of their playoff series to earn a second trip to the World Series in the past three years.
So, where, exactly, does a hard-working sports scribe start? Well, let’s go ahead and start at the beginning… Saturday. I have to admit I was a little surprised by the ease with which Florida dispatched South Carolina, and the fact that Kansas State held West Virginia to just 14 points. The fact the Wildcats hung 55 on the Mountaineers is, of course, not much of a surprise. I mean, West Virginia has given up 45 or more points in every Big 12 game they have played. However, the fact K-State was able to hold former Heisman frontrunner Gino Smith to less than 200 yards passing, and only one touchdown, certainly goes down as a shocker.
The same thing goes for the Gators blasting Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks 44-11. You had to figure that game was going to be closer, and it turned out it wasn’t the case. If you’d told me at the beginning of the season that Kansas State and Florida would be two teams in contention for a BCS game, and possibly the BCS title, I would have scoffed at you. That, however, is why they play the games.
As is always the case, Saturday eventually bled into Sunday… which eventually meant more football. The best team in the NFL (so far), the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, had the week off which meant the marquee matchup of the past week had to be the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens, and the 5-1 Houston Texans, in a game that would give the winner claim to the title of best team in the AFC. Ultimately, the Texans made short work of the undermanned Ravens, shredding their injured defense for 43 points, while limiting their relatively healthy offense to 13. This result, however, was not that surprising to me. Despite the fact they were thrashed a week earlier by Green Bay, the Texans have as much talent on both sides of the ball as any team in the league, and they showed it against Baltimore. There is still a lot of football to be played, and the Texans face another big test in December when they travel to face New England, but right now they have to be considered the class of the AFC.
And finally, we reach Monday. While the day might be the least favorite one of the week for most workers, this past one was certainly a good day for the San Francisco Giants and Brawley’s own Sergio Romo. After losing three of the first four games of their best-of-seven National League Championship Series to St. Louis, the Giants rallied to win the next two, forcing a deciding game seven which they won handily 9-0.
It was the second series in a row where the Giants dug themselves a big hole, and then came back to win… It was the second series in a row where Romo was on the mound to record the final out. With Brian Wilson shelved for the season, the former Wildcat has filled in admirably, as Bruce Bochy’s playoff closer, not allowing a run in the NLCS. The Giants move on to face Detroit in the World Series, and you have to wonder if maybe their luck hasn’t run out.
The Tigers swept New York in the ALCS, and have had a lot of down time, which means they’ve had the chance to set up their playoff rotation. This also means the Giants might face Justin Verlander three times, and there’s no pitcher on San Francisco’s staff (Matt Cain included) who is as dominant as Verlander. Likewise, the Giants don’t have bats to match Miguel Cabrera, or Prince Fielder. However, the Giants have defied the odds thus far, so why not one more time? It certainly could happen, but if I was San Francisco, I would try and not dig a 3-game hole against Detroit. Verlander is awfully good when given the chance to close out a series.