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Vapor Trail

October 3, 2004

Some weekends are great for sports. You nail your picks, your teams win big, you end up happy. And, if you're lucky, you end up with a little extra cash in your pocket.

And then there are weekends like this one.

Deciding that Vegas was smarter than I am, I picked the Packers to beat the Giants in my NFL elimination pool. With a $425 pot, it was nothing to sneeze at, particularly with it down to four people. I had New England saved for next week (home against winless Miami), and I wanted the Jets for two weeks from now (home against winless San Francisco). Now temptation was there for me to go with the Jets at Miami and worry about two weeks from now when/if I got there, but I like to plan ahead. Sometimes a little too much.

So Green Bay, a seven point favorite playing at home against the Giants, managed to lose 14-7. How was I to know that Brett Favre would get knocked loopy and be sidelined with a concussion? The Giants tried their best to allow the Packers to get back in it (with Steve Christie going 0-3 on field goals), but it just wasn't meant to be. $425, bye bye. I hope now that Rad ends up winning, as he and his wife have week-old twin girls at home. He could use the cash for them, I'm sure.

The Titans went into San Diego and lost, which killed me in the weekly work pick 'em. I picked both Houston and Arizona's wins (there were WAY too many road favorites this week), but I'm a game out with no chance to catch up tonight (with the two people one game up on me having Baltimore, as I do). Arrrrgh.

Matthew Tant
Matthew Tant and Vanderbilt punished Mississippi State on Saturday night.

And then there's college football, where Tennessee was beaten badly by Auburn (who looked dominant) and Mississippi State lost to Vandy. I like Vanderbilt and all, and I've got a distant cousin who is doing quite well on the team (Matthew Tant, pictured to the right). However, my brother Matt goes to Mississippi State, so I was pulling for them... even though Vanderbilt and winning normally doesn't go together on the gridiron. I really want to see Mississippi State turn things around.

After MSU's horrid loss to Maine (I didn't know that had a team!) last week, the oddsmakers didn't like their chances this week. Let me put it to you like this: Vanderbilt was a 12 favorite to win, and they covered the spread. In a conference game. That doesn't exist.

And to top it all off, my high school alma mater, Father Ryan, is winless on the football season. It's depressing, I tell you.

But at least I'm not alone in my misery. The Tampa Bay Bucs are 0-4, and there are plenty of bummed out people here in the Tampa area. It's interesting how quick some are to turn on Jon Gruden, overlooking the fact that Tampa Bay gave up a ransom of draft picks to acquire him. When you don't have first or second round picks for a couple of years, it catches up with you. In the NFL you make your run at a Super Bowl (which the Bucs successfully did), then you take the pinch on the salary cap for a couple of years while you gear up for another chase at the Lombardi Trophy. Look at the Jacksonville Jaguars for evidence of that.

Is there a silver lining? Well, Ohio State lost to Northwestern, despite following their typical "close game that goes down to the wire" format that they win with 99% of the time (and for all the people whining about West Virginia being overrated, I think just as much of an uproar is deserved for Ohio State). Also, if the winless Bucs end up with a double-digit loss season, then perhaps I can finally land season tickets. I've been on the waiting list since April 2001, and it would be nice to finally get in there, even if it's the final row in the 300 section. Just get me in the damn stadium!

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