September 21, 2015[caption id="attachment_1030" align="aligncenter" width="474"] After a big victory against Tulsa, Oklahoma is 3-0 and rolling, and just might be poised to bounce back from last year's fourth-place finish in the Big 12. Illustration: Steve Hill.[/caption] It's just one loss. These days in college football, one loss does not a season end. Yet, dropping one at home against Ole Miss Saturday was troubling if you're an Alabama fan. Not since 1988 had the Rebels defeated the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa -- and this was only their second victory there ever. Also, this: Never before had 'Bama lost to Ole Miss in consecutive seasons. So, where does this leave Nick Saban's men in their quest for a national title? For now, it leaves Alabama ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll, which means virtually nothing but is the best gauge we have for the time being. Three games in, Alabama finds itself looking up at Ohio State, Michigan State, TCU, Notre Dame, LSU, Baylor, Georgia, UCLA, Clemson and FSU. And of course, Ole Miss. Now, there are future losses to be found among those 11 teams. Bama can take care of LSU and Georgia itself. Baylor and TCU play in November, as do Ohio State and Michigan. Bottom line: As embarrassing as it was to drop one at home against Ole Miss, it would be a HUGE mistake to go to sleep on Saban's team the rest of the way. Would anyone really be shocked to see them right there in the Final Four at the end of the year? Nope. Not a bit. Oh, no! Romo! Who would you rather be in the NFC East this morning? The 0-2 Giants and Eagles, scuffling, but with relatively few injury issues? Or the 2-0 Cowboys, facing the prospect of moving ahead without quarterback Tony Romo (broken collarbone, out 8-10 weeks) and receiver Dez Bryant (broken foot, out indefinitely)? Oh, and before you answer, keep in mind that Dallas backup quarterback Brandon Weeden will be relying on banged up tight end Jason Witten (sprained ankles, sprained knee). OK, considering how hapless the Giants and Eagles have looked so far, you'd take the 2-0 and take your chances with Weeden and a Cowboys run defense that held former teammate DeMarco Murray to two years on 13 carries Sunday. Still, this division suddenly is wide open, and even Washington -- which is the only other team with a victory so far -- might be right in the thick of it. The Yankees are still here It looks like the Blue Jays might have the AL East well in hand. It has done since the trade deadline, actually. They made by far the best moves in the division, and they made the Yankees look old, slow and old. Also, old. A 2.5-game lead is not a lock, though. There's still plenty of baseball to play. The Yankees might bear watching, after all. This is especially true if the AL Wildcard leaders can get the kind of pitching performances from former ace C.C. Sabathia that they got Sunday against the Mets. Sabathia has allowed one earned run against the Mets and Rays in 12.2 innings in his last two starts. That doesn't mean the big man is back, necessarily, but it might mean that New York could be poised to make one, last push at the Jays before settling for the one-game wildcard playoff. Sabathia reportedly has a new knee brace to thank for his recent success. Since returning three starts ago with his new brace, his ERA is 1.04. The Sooners are back, baby ... maybe Oklahoma was a non-factor in last year's first college football playoff season, which had to stick in the Sooners' collective craw. After thumping Tulsa this past weekend, 52-38, Coach Bob Stoops' crew appears to be ready to bounce back from last year's 8-5 disappointment -- which ended with an embarrassing 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Last year's fourth-place finish was Stoops' lowest in the conference since taking over the program in 1999. A 3-0 start with victories against Akron, No. 24 Tennessee and Tulsa might not seem like something to get wild about, and yes -- the Sooners started last year 4-0 before stumbling. But with no ranked opponents on the schedule until Baylor on Nov. 14, Oklahoma has plenty of time to build confidence behind quarterback Baker Mayfield -- who set a school record with 572 total yards Saturday in his third start for the Sooners. Jameis Winston ... Hall of Famer? From first-round bust to Hall of Famer in one week. That's the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston so far. Witness this quote from Tampa Bay receiver Louis Murphy after Winston's solid performance in Sunday's victory at New Orleans: "He's going to have a great career," Murphy told Fox Sports. "He'll do great things, set records, and I believe he's going to be a Hall of Fame player. You can't put the carriage before the horse. He'll be fine." We'll just let that quote dangle out there for now.
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December 31, 2015
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