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BREAKING DOWN OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY PICKS

For those of you out there who have been going with Craig’s picks this college football season, I’m sorry. I can’t help but think of the 2005 movie “Two for the Money” when looking at Craig’s selections and thinking of those out there that may be using them in real life. Craig wins last year’s championship, is riding high with the Carroll Championship, but suddenly can’t win a game this year. Remember when Matthew McConaughey was winning almost every single game he picked and made his clients – including that guy Amir – a ton of money. Amir is driving around in a red Ferrari, if I remember correctly, with some hot chick and enjoying his winnings. But suddenly, McConaughey’s character goes cold and Amir is calling him to tell him he’s been left with nothing after following his advice. He's broke. Well, hopefully nobody has taken that path with Craig’s picks, although I’m having a whole lot of fun bringing up that analogy to him. If you were betting $110 per game (to win $100) he would have cost you $1,220 this season, as he dropped to 12-22-1 on the year after a 1-6 record on Saturday. I, on the other hand, am actually making a small profit. I was 4-3 on Saturday and improved to 18-16-1 on the season. We'll break down the games this week right here, right now. By the way, WEDNESDAY Afternoon GameDay has a lot to talk about this week. I was at the Jets game against the Cardinals on Sunday and saw history made with Brett Favre’s career day. Also, it wouldn’t be GameDay without a whole bunch of jabs at the Mets, including some funny stories from interaction with Mets' fans in Jersey, NYC and Long Island. So, check back WEDNESDAY for that. Here is my breakdown from Saturday college games:

My Saturday: 4-3 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 18-16-1 (spread); 26-9 (overall); 2-1 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $40 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 1-6 (spread)
Craig's Season: 12-22-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $1,220 (season)

Tennessee -6.5 at No. 15 Auburn
My Pick: Auburn 24, Tennessee 13
Actual Score: Auburn 14, Tennessee 12
Well, I guess I should have seen this coming. Auburn (with no offense) playing Tennessee (with no offense, defense, special teams or coaching … did I leave anything out?) should have been a lame game, but I didn’t see it. Maybe I was blinded by the Orange glow of a horrible team. None of that helps out this pick though. A loss starts the day for both me and Craig (who is picking games like Tennessee plays on the field).

No. 9 Wisconsin -6 at Michigan
My Pick: Wisconsin 28, Michigan 14
Actual Score: Michigan 27, Wisconsin 25
I said it in my GameDay column on Saturday: any other year and I would be 100 percent against Wisconsin in this game. But I went with Wisconsin anyway, and it cost me. The Badgers were actually winning 19-0 at the half before the Wolverines made a miracle comeback. I’m a Michigan fan, so I was happy either way. The start is 0-2 for both of us. Not good

Arkansas +27 at No. 7 Texas
My Pick: Texas 44, Arkansas 10
Actual Score: Texas 52, Arkansas 10
I don’t like Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino – if you couldn’t tell – so this score was great. The fact that we were pretty dead on in the score is even better. A 1-2 record for both of us.

No. 24 TCU +18.5 at No. 2 Oklahoma
My Pick: Oklahoma 41, TCU 20
Actual Score: Oklahoma 35, TCU 10
This game was tough to read because the spread was so high, but I thought the Sooners would smell blood after USC’s loss on Thursday night. And they did. Oklahoma – the nation’s new No. 1 – blew away a tough TCU team and GameDay is even with the picks after four games. Craig went with TCU to cover, not a bad choice, but he falls to 1-3 on the day.

Mississippi State +25 at No. 5 LSU
My Pick: LSU 49, Mississippi State 14
Actual Score: LSU 34, Mississippi State 24
The winning streak stops cold at two as the Tigers can’t put Mississippi State away. Our record is now 2-3, while Craig continues his horrible season with a 1-4 start to the day.

No. 8 Alabama +6.5 at No. 3 Georgia
My Pick: Georgia 27, Alabama 23
Actual Score: Alabama 41, Georgia 30
Thought for a nano-second about going with Alabama as an upset pick, but didn’t have the guts to go through with it. But, still, we walk away with a victory as we went with the Tide to cover. Alabama moved up to No. 2 with the win. Craig’s pitiful season continues with another loss. He’s 1-5 on the day. Alabama could beat the team to beat in the SEC, which noone thought coming into the season.

No. 22 Illinois +15.5 at No. 12 Penn State
My Pick: Penn State 35, Illinois 21
Actual Score: Penn State 38, Illinois 24
Illinois kept the game just close enough against the team full of criminals to give us a winning record for the week. We finish with a 4-3 mark, with gives us a profit for the day and the season, while Craig finishes 1-6. Good finish for GameDay.

We'll see you tomorrow with WEDNESDAY Afternoon GameDay, which will feature the New York Metropolitans!
(AP photo, top, Mets manager Jerry Manuel, bottom, and players Jose Reyes, upper left, and David Wright, upper right, leave the dugout after the team lost their final regular season game to the Marlins 4-2 at Shea Stadium Sunday in New York.)

MY COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN TOMORROW LEAKED EARLY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 4-3 (spread); 6-1 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 14-13-1 (spread); 21-7 (overall); 2-1 (upset picks)

No. 24 TCU at No. 2 Oklahoma; 7 p.m.; FSN
The Skinny: USC’s loss to Oregon State Thursday night opened the door for a wild several weeks of college football play, as the Trojans were thought to be a lock for one of the national title game spots. Now, teams like Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, LSU and a host of others can play their way in. By the way, why in the world is USC playing during the week? That’s a spot reserved for desperate-for-attention schools like UConn. The Pick: Oklahoma (-18.5) wins it 41-20.

No. 8 Alabama at No. 3 Georgia; 7:45 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: First off, how does CBS (the home of the SEC) not have this game on their schedule at 3:30? It’s the biggest game of the season thus far and it’s buried at a start time close to 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. Oh well. The winner of this game takes the biggest step toward that No. 1 spot in the rankings. Yes, even Alabama, who has had a tremendous start to the season. I don’t trust Georgia at all, so this should come down to the end. The Pick: Georgia (-6.5) wins it 27-23.

Mississippi State at No. 5 LSU; 7:30 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: LSU rallied past Auburn on the road last week to remain alive in the BCS hunt. Tonight, the only thing they will have to rally against is a letdown, as this game represents the perfect trap. After the win over Auburn, LSU has games on the horizon against Florida, Georgia and Alabama to look forward to. Mississippi State is 1-3 and should not pose a problem here. No matter what, the Tigers will win the game, but by how much? The Pick: LSU (-25) wins it 49-14.

Arkansas at No. 7 Texas; 3:30 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Arkansas – and its quitter coach Bobby Petrino – lost its SEC opener at home to Alabama, 49-14, causing this game to lose its luster. Texas could be the biggest beneficiary of the USC loss, as it had a lot of teams to jump just to get into the BCS title discussion. Now they have just as good a shot as anybody, even with their current No. 7 ranking. Colt McCoy will lead the Longhorns to an easy win today. But giving 27 points is a whole lot. The Pick: Texas (-27) wins it 44-10.

No. 9 Wisconsin at Michigan; 3:30 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Wisconsin opens its Big Ten schedule with games at Michigan and then home to both Ohio State and Penn State. Talk about a daunting start. But, luckily for the Badgers, Michigan is a shell of its former self. The Wolverines are downright awful, hitting a new low with their humiliating, 35-17 loss to Notre Dame. Any other year, I would be 100 percent against Wisconsin here, but Michigan simply has no juice this season. The Pick: Wisconsin (-6) wins it 28-14.

No. 22 Illinois at No. 12 Penn State; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: We’ve talked a lot about USC’s loss to Oregon State Thursday night and its ramifications, but perhaps the biggest confidence booster from that fallout belongs to Penn State. The Nittany Lions actually defeated Oregon State at home this season, 45-14. The venue wasn’t the same, but Penn State has to be feeling real good about itself right now. The Pick: Penn State (-15.5) wins it 35-21.

Tennessee at No. 15 Auburn; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Pick: Auburn (-6.5) wins it 24-13.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 3-4 record last week, and is 11-16-1 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: TCU, Georgia, LSU, Texas, Wisconsin, Penn State, Auburn.

(AP photo, top, LSU coach Les Miles celebrates his team's victory over Auburn last Saturday night.)

GOING 3 & OUT

The choke is on in Flushing. The Mets again showed they have no heart with their horrible loss to a Cubs team that is just waiting for the postseason to begin. It’s gotten so bad that the Mets allowed a grand slam last night to Jason Marquis – the pitcher. The Mets are now 2.5 games out of the NL East race with the Phillies and hold just a one game lead over the Brewers in the Wild Card race. Imagine if the Brewers didn’t go into their own late-season collapse? Where would the Mets be then? If the Mets don’t win tonight with Johan Santana on the mound, then this could end very, very badly for the Mets. After the season, Jerry Manuel would be the first to go, probably the next morning. But the core of the team will stay the same, which is a problem, unless you bring in a disciplinarian as manager. There is no doubt the team needs an attitude adjustment and a strong-willed manager could change that. The organization blamed Willie Randolph for last season’s collapse – this year it’s on the players. There are no more excuses. Tonight will go a long way in figuring out the Mets postseason chances.

3 & OUT
1.
Well, the Red Sox lost last night to the Indians, meaning the Yankees are still alive. If you read Monday Afternoon GameDay, you know what I’m thinking here. The Bombers are six games back in the Wild Card race with six to play. Again, if the Sox go 0-for-6 and the Yankees go 6-for-6, there will be a one-game playoff to determine the Wild Card winner. It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened. If the Yankees win tonight in Toronto (and they should have something to play for with Mike Mussina trying to get to 20 wins on the season) and the Red Sox lose again to the Indians, this talk will heat up. Remember, the Yankees and Red Sox play each other in the final three games, making this longshot a possibility. With last night’s loss, the Yankees need the Red Sox to just go 0-for-3, while themselves going 3-for-3 to force a meaningful Fenway showdown. It is funny how I’m writing about this when probably more than a month ago I wrote the season off. I’m not saying the Yankees have a legitimate shot, but it would be an interesting end to the season if it did happen.

2. The Jets started off great last night, with a David Barrett interception return for a touchdown to open the game, but it went downhill quickly after that. The Chargers built a 17-7 lead before the Jets came back and scored a touchdown thanks to a long Leon Washington kick return. Brett Favre threw a TD pass to cut the lead to 17-14. But Eric Mangini decided to go for an onside kick and the Chargers recovered. Two touchdowns later, it was a 31-14 halftime deficit. I have no problem with gambling during a football game, but even I thought this was too early. That changed the game and the Chargers took full advantage. Favre played just ok, despite the big numbers. Kris Jenkins is awesome and hopefully he will be ready to play next week. In the beginning of the game, the Chargers got nothing on the ground. But then Jenkins got hurt and the Chargers suddenly had a running game. The secondary needs to play better, plain and simple. They will get a huge test next week against the Cardinals. Still, with all that said, a loss to the Chargers means very little. If the Jets beat Arizona next week, they would be 2-2 headed into the soft part of their schedule. After a bye, which will help Favre even more heading into the stretch, the Jets will play Cincinnati, at Oakland and Kansas City. The Jets could and should be 5-2 heading to Buffalo for a big AFC East showdown. After that it’s the pitiful Rams. 7-2 or 6-3 is a definite possibility. But the Arizona game is as close to must-win as a game can get this early in the season.

3. About 90 minutes before the Jets-Chargers game last night, I actually made the switch and started Darren Sproles over LaDainian Tomlinson in my CBS fantasy league (the big one). The injury risk was just too great to start LT, and being down by 10 points and going against Thomas Jones to boot, I couldn’t take the chance. But about 15 minutes before the game, after hearing that Tomlinson would start the game, I had a change of heart and decided to put him back in the starting lineup. Well, for probably the first and last time, I actually made the correct move. Tomlinson ended with 20 points (Sproles had 6) and Thomas Jones picked up 2 points. I ended with an 8-point victory. If I started Sproles, I lose, but I’m 2-1 and in first place. Took a little of the sting away from the Jets loss as well.

In my ESPN league, I had Brett Favre and Nate Kaeding going against Antonio Gates and a 12-point deficit. Ended up coming back to win this game as well as Favre had a big day in the second half. Favre ended with 18 points, Kaeding had 13, while Gates had 8. Beat Johnny Burnham’s team by 11 points. Another improbable victory, especially considering Gates got a TD to end the first half. My team moved into first place after improving to 2-1 on the season.

In my Yahoo league, the Chargers defense did their job to get me a big win. Antonio Cromartie had 17.5 points, Shaun Phillips had 5, and the Chargers defense had 17. My opponent had Gates, Calvin Pace and Darrelle Revis. Ended winning in a blowout. I’m 3-0 in this league, and have scored the most points overall.

Also, on the way out, I went 6-10 in my NFL picks this week. That makes me 20-25-2 for the season. Remember to check out my picks (for the Sunday games) in the Sunday Herald Press every week and right here for all my picks.

(AP photo, top, Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese looks down as Cubs' Jason Marquis rounds third base after hitting a grand slam in the fourth inning at Shea Stadium Monday.)

MONDAY AFTERNOON GAMEDAY ... THE YANKEES WILL WIN THE WORLD SERIES!?!?!

This may just be the emotion talking after watching the Yankees celebrate last night for the final time (?) at the Stadium, but things aren’t over just yet for the Bronx Bombers. Hear me out, because I know a lot of you are laughing right now. With the Yankees winning 8 of 10 on their final homestand, they moved past the Blue Jays and the Twins in the Wild Card race, and trail the Red Sox by 6.5 games. That means the Red Sox will have to go 0-for-7 in their final games, while the Yankees must go 6-for-6. I know … it’s more than a long shot. But with the final three games being Red Sox-Yankees, then you could really break it down to Boston going 0-for-4 and the Yankees going 3-for-3. That is a little more doable. It also helps the Yankees that the Red Sox are playing the red-hot Indians, who have won six straight. The first game tonight is the big one, as Josh Beckett goes against Zach Johnson. If Cleveland pulls off the upset then it is definitely possible that the Indians could take all four games, especially with Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona pitching the middle games. Obviously, if it was just a three-game series, it would be a little more realistic. The Yankees play three against the Blue Jays, who have nothing to play for. Likely? No. Possible? Yes.

And just imagine the scene at Fenway Park if that actually came to fruition. It would be insane. It would be playoff baseball a week early. It’s probably not going to happen, I realize this, but if it did, I guarantee the Yankees would go on to win the World Series. Now, just imagine the scenarios if the Yankees hadn’t lost 2 of 3 to the Mariners earlier this month.

GOODBYE YANKEE STADIUM
The Yankees did a great job after the game against the Orioles last night. The end-ceremonies were really well done, with Derek Jeter delivering a great speech. I had the memories of my moments at Yankee Stadium running through my head as the players were taking their lap around the field. I had the privilege of being in the stands for two of the greatest games and moments ever at the Stadium, and I still get goose bumps when thinking about it. I was at Game 5 of the 2001 World Series when Scott Brosius tied the game with a two-out, 2-run home run in the ninth inning and Alfonso Soriano won it in extra innings. After Brosius’ home run, I hugged the guy next to me as the place went absolutely crazy. I was also at Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS when the Yankees pulled off a miracle comeback against Pedro Martinez and Aaron Boone won it with a home run off Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning. There’s a ton of other memories as well: I saw my favorite player, Paul O’Neill, hit a grand slam; I was at the “chant” game as the Yankees beat the Mariners (who set the record for most regular season wins that year) in Game 5 of the ALCS; plus many other games, both playoff and regular season. The “chant” game was one of the most underrated moments as, if you remember, the crowd chanted all night long. I think the score was 15-2, or something like it, so it was a party in the stands for the entire game. Just unbelievable. I’ve been to a ton more playoff games and regular season games at the Stadium. It’s one of a kind and I am not happy at all that they are moving to the new ball park. But it’s all about money. I’ll always have the memories, though.

JETER’S THE MAN
Derek Jeter was tremendous last night and I think that if anyone should throw out the ceremonial first pitch in the first game at the new Yankee Stadium it should be Jeter. Have Yogi Berra catch and Jeter throw. There would be no better way to open the new park.

QUICK NFL NOTES
It was great seeing Bill Belicheat exposed as just an ordinary coach yesterday against the Dolphins. I bet he dreamt of Ronnie Brown running all over his Patriots last night – if he ever did go to sleep. … The Rams are pitiful. … The Giants believed their own hype yesterday against the Bengals, as they thought they could just show up and win. The Giants are a good team, but there not a Super Bowl team, not even close. … The Browns are pitiful. … Lane Kiffin is probably going to get fired today as coach of the Raiders, and after blowing a victory Sunday against the Bills, he deserves it. Buffalo scored 17 points in the final minutes to win the game. … The Chiefs are pitiful. … I hope people in Kansas City realize what a horrible coach Herm Edwards is by now.

FANTASY UPDATE
*
This is what Monday Night Football is all about. Not only are the Jets playing in prime time, but all three of my fantasy leagues will come down to the final whistle. The biggest problem is that I have a ton of Chargers on my teams. In the CBS league (the big one) I’m down by 10 points with LaDainian Tomlinson still to go. My opponent has Thomas Jones. Of course, the dilemma here is that Tomlinson is injured and I have a big choice of whether to start him or go with Darren Sproles. Luckily, I have that option after picking up Sproles on the waiver wire this week. The best thing that can happen is LT is inactive for the game, making it an easy start of Sproles. If Tomlinson plays, I still might be forced to start Sproles. It’s a crazy decision, benching the best fantasy player of the past several years, but it may come to that. Now, if my players had a better day on Sunday, we wouldn’t be talking about this. Plus, why in the world did my opponent start 49ers QB J.T. O’Sullivan over Peyton Manning? O’Sullivan got 22 to Peyton’s 11. If he just started Peyton, which he had to take in the first round, I’m up one going into tonight. What the hell? He also got 29 points from the Ravens. Thank God I have Matt Forte, who got 20 points and kept me in the game. Donovan McNabb killed me, though, scoring just 11. Anyway, what would you do – start Sproles or Tomlinson? It’s a big question.

* In the Yahoo league, I’m up by four points going into tonight. I have the Chargers defense, Antonio Cromartie and Shaun Phillips to play, while my opponent has Antonio Gates, Darrelle Revis and Calvin Pace. Got big days from Drew Brees and Maurice Jones Drew, but only one point from Brian Westbrook, which makes this game a dog fight (and not in the Michael Vick way).

* In the EPSN league, I’m down by 12 points with Nate Keading and Brett Favre to play. My opponent (who happens to be Press writer Johnny Burnham) has Antonio Gates. Quarterbacks only get four points for a TD throw in this league, for some reason, so it’ll be a lot harder than getting the usual six. Favre can help me out in a couple of ways tonight. If he throws a ton of TD passes, then I’ll probably win this game, and Thomas Jones won’t get a TD, which helps in the CBS league.

TONIGHT IS FAVRE’S NIGHT
This could be the night Brett Favre finally arrives as Jets quarterback. The Jets must open the playbook and let Favre chuck the ball downfield all night long. I think they will and I think Favre will have a huge night.

(AP photos of Derek Jeter, top, Mariano Rivera, middle, and Jorge Posada and Yogi Berra, last)

BREAKING DOWN OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMEDAY PICKS FROM SATURDAY

When you pick games against the spread, there will undoubtedly be teams that you grow to love and, more likely, hate. There are plenty of teams in my memory bank that I will avoid like the plague, and others that I will always love. Kansas is an example of the latter, as they’ve seemingly always come through for me. On the other side is Fresno State. After picking them to upset Wisconsin two weeks ago, they blew several chances to win the game and came away with a loss. And yesterday, they had the game against Air Force in their grasp, but let it get away. They ended up winning in double overtime, but that did me no good. So, needless to say, Fresno State won’t show up too many times in this column again. For the day, that late loss dropped me to 4-3 on the day. Craig finished with a 3-4 record. Tennessee is on his “hate” list right now. Here is the Saturday breakdown:

My Saturday: 4-3 (spread); 6-1 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 14-13-1 (spread); 21-7 (overall); 2-1 (upset picks)
My Money: DOWN $30 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 3-4 (spread)
Craig's Season: 11-16-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $660 (season

No. 15 East Carolina -7 at North Carolina State
My Pick: East Carolina 31, North Carolina State 27
Actual Score: North Carolina State 30, East Carolina 24 (OT)
Got the day off to a good start with North Carolina State coming back to beat East Carolina in overtime. While I was rooting for the BCS-busters, it was a great seeing NC State battle back. ECU coach Skip Holtz made a big mistake by not kicking a field goal that would have given the team a 7-point lead with 10:33 to go in the fourth. They came downfield later and did kick a field goal with 4:27 left, which should have given them a 10-point lead. After that, NC State scored the game-tying TD with 1:12 to go and won in overtime.

No. 4 Florida -7.5 at Tennessee
My Pick: Florida 33, Tennessee 20
Actual Score: Florida 30, Tennessee 6
Craig has already vowed never to pick the Vols again … I don’t know why he waited so long. I’m 2-for-2 with anti-Tennessee picks this year, including the Vols humiliating loss at home. We’re 2-0 so far, while Craig is 0-2. This perfect start can’t continue … can it? …

No. 20 Utah -9.5 at Air Force
My Pick: Utah 35, Air Force 14
Actual Score: Utah 30, Air Force 23
… Of course it can’t. Utah scored the game-winning touchdown with 58 seconds to play. Big deal. It’s a loss and a 2-1 record. Craig is 0-3.

No. 18 Wake Forest +5 at No. 24 Florida State
My Pick: Wake Forest 28, Florida State 21
Actual Score: Wake Forest 12, Florida State 3
Wake Forest beats Florida State for the third time in a row and moves our record to 3-1 overall. This was our upset pick as well, so if you took the chance, the profit margin goes up. Craig finally breaks into the win column with the win.

No. 6 LSU -2.5 at No. 10 Auburn
My Pick: LSU 14, Auburn 10
Actual Score: LSU 26, Auburn 21
Auburn took a 21-20 lead with 6:40 to go, but LSU came back with a game-winning TD drive that ended with 1:03 left in the game. It was an exciting end, especially for us, as we went with LSU. Great college football finish and we’re a tremendous 4-1 headed into the night. Craig is 2-3.

No. 3 Georgia -7 at Arizona State
My Pick: Georgia 24, Arizona State 21
Actual Score: Georgia 27, Arizona State 10
Georgia was impressive for the first time this season, right when I needed them to struggle. We’re 4-2. Craig gets the win and is making a strong finish with three victories in a row.

No. 25 Fresno State -7 at Toledo
My Pick: Fresno State 31, Toledo 17
Actual Score: Fresno State 55, Toledo 54 (2 OT)
When Fresno State took a 10-point lead with 10:20 to go in the game, I thought I had this game won. Fresno finally looked to take control of the game and would have ended GameDay on the perfect note. But in the time in took me to drive home from New Britain, Toledo came back to tie the game and came within a 2-point conversion in the second overtime of the upset victory. They missed the chance, giving Fresno the win. I’m sure it was exciting. But picking against the spread makes watching football very, very strange. Thank God I missed it. So, we end with a 4-3 record and 1-0 in upset picks.

(AP photo, top, North Carolina State's George Bryan, center, celebrates his touchdown with Owen Spencer, right, and Ted Larsen that tied the score with 1:12 to go against East Carolina Saturday afternoon.)

MY COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS COLUMN FOR TOMORROW ... LEAKED TODAY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 3-4 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-1 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 10-10-1 (spread); 15-6 (overall); 1-1 (upset picks)

No. 3 Georgia at Arizona State; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Believe it or not, this is the farthest road trip since the 2000 Oahu Bowl for the Bulldogs. It’s also the first time under coach Mark Richt that the team will travel outside the Southeast for a non-conference game. No wonder Georgia gets little respect around the nation. Arizona State dropped out of the Top 25 after an embarrassing loss to UNLV last week, so this game lost all of its juice. It should be close, though. The Pick: Georgia (-7) wins it 24-21.

No. 4 Florida at Tennessee; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: Florida has owned Tennessee since coach Urban Meyer took over, winning all three games, including last season’s 59-20 rout in Florida. That trend should continue today as Tennessee just isn’t very good. The Vols returned to action last Saturday, after two weeks off following their loss to UCLA, and beat UAB 35-3. The offense registered 548 yards – against UAB. Florida, on the other hand, has both an offense and defense. The Pick: Florida (-7.5) wins it 33-20.

No. 6 LSU at No. 10 Auburn; 7:45 p.m., ESPN
The Skinny: The best tidbit about this series is that the home team has held court in each of the last 10 years – meaning Auburn should walk away with the victory tonight. Good for them, but bad for me, as I’m thinking LSU all the way. Two years ago on the road, LSU took a 7-3 defeat – a very Auburn-like score. This game is all about defense – shocker – and the question is whether or not LSU can score a TD. If they do, I think they’ll win. The Pick: LSU (-2.5) wins it 14-10.

No. 15 East Carolina at North Carolina State; 12 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: East Carolina probably took last week’s game against Tulsa lightly after pulling off two major upsets – over Virginia Tech and West Virginia – to start the season. ECU had to overcome four turnovers and a season-low offensive output to win 28-24. The Pirates should have their edge back today as N.C. State is an ACC team and beating them on the road would go a long way to a possible BCS berth. Still, the Pack will play well. The Pick: East Carolina (-7) wins it 31-27.

No. 18 Wake Forest at No. 24 Florida State; 7 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: Wake Forest has won the last two games against Florida State, including a 30-0 drubbing on the road two years ago. This season, both squads have taken a different approach out of the gate. The Deacons beat Baylor and Mississippi State, while Florida State defeated a couple of I-AA cupcakes, so give the edge to Wake Forest tonight. FSU will be without six players stemming from cheating scandal last year as well. The Pick: Wake Forest (+5) wins it 28-21.

No. 20 Utah at Air Force; 4 p.m.; VERSUS
The Skinny: Air Force should change its name to Ground Force, as quarterback Shea Smith passed for a whopping 0 yards in last week’s 31-28 victory over Houston. Smith was 0-for-8, but did run for 93 yards and three TD’s. Air Force totaled 380 yards rushing overall. That might work against inferior competition, but it will be completely different today. The Pick: Utah (-9.5) wins it 35-14.

No. 25 Fresno State at Toledo; 8:15 p.m.; ESPNU
The Pick: Fresno State (-7) wins it 31-17. Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 2-5 record last week, moving his season mark to 8-12-1. Here are his picks for the week: Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, East Carolina, Wake Forest, Utah, Fresno State.

(AP photo, top, Georgia's Asher Allen (2) celebrates his recovered fumble in the end zone with Akeem Dent (51) against South Carolina in the fourth quarter last Saturday.)

'MANNY BEING MANNY' IS WHAT IT IS ... DEAL WITH THE BAD AS WELL

Curt Schilling spoke again today ... I know, I know ... why is anyone still listening to this idiot? ... and the subject was Manny Ramirez' (AP photo, right) exit from the Red Sox. Now, this is what burns me about Boston fans and the Boston media (and I'm not saying all, but most), "Manny Being Manny" was great for years and years and years when he was helping you win. Now, he's helping the Dodgers win and could very well win the Most Valuable Player award, and all I've heard since then is what a disgrace it was for Manny to "force" a trade out of Boston. It's back in the news today because of that red-paint-sock-wearing jerk who can't just go away and leave the spotlight once and for all. Listen, what Manny did to Boston was "Manny Being Manny." That's all. Live with the good, die with the bad. You can't have a huge laugh when he acts like Curt Schilling and he's hitting 40 HR's for you, but when he acts that same way to get out of town, you can't have a huge problem with it. Sports fans are quick to turn, and I understand that, but this "Manny Being Manny" thing was a huge laugh for Boston, now you have to live with it. What Manny did was wrong, there is no disputing that fact, but the fact that fact that everyone is now complaining about "Manny Being Manny," instead of embracing it, is just as wrong.

Watched the second episode of "Entourage" last night and all I have to say is: what a turnaround! It was one of the best episodes in years - years! - and did everything the premiere episode didn't. This should have been the season premiere. It had everything, including laughs, which hasn't been the show's calling card since the first couple of seasons. It was back to reality for the guys, which is a great thing. Even the cameos by Mark Wahlberg and Tony Bennett worked great. Thank God the show is back to what made it great in the first place. Like I said last week, though, we'll see how the season progresses ... but this was a great step forward.

MONDAY AFTERNOON GAMEDAY ... ON WEDNESDAY

I know I’ve been horrible at updating this blog recently, but that should change starting today, as I’ll be back to updating close to every day. And, at least for one week, Monday Afternoon GameDay will arrive next week on Monday – that’s right, Monday. I never thought Jet games would hurt the blog so much, but admittedly, it has. That doesn’t mean I’ll skip out on them, but I’ll make a better effort to sit in front of a computer and get GameDay and other updates to you as soon as possible.

Needless to say, I was at the Jets-Patriots game Sunday at the Meadowlands and got some major sunburn. It was hot, boiling hot, and my face paid the price. Starting tailgating before noon, and that may have been a little too early, at least for my skin’s sake, but it was all good leading up to Brett Favre’s (AP photo, top) home debut. This was about as excited as I’ve been for a home game in a long, long time. But before the kickoff, the Jets pretty much did everything they could to ruin that excitement.

First, the speakers in the stadium were barely audible. We couldn’t hear any announcements, interviews, or even when to stand for the national anthem. We just guessed that we were supposed to stand when the lead singer from Lifehouse started to sing the anthem. We did hear him sing, but that was from an on-field mic. When the stadium did the team introductions, they did the right thing, having each individual starting offensive player introduced – meaning the place would explode when Favre made his entrance. But the Meadowlands screwed that up as well, as no one introduced the players (or, if they did, nobody heard them). They only showed a shot on the big-screen of the player. That is when we knew someone was coming out. The place did explode when Favre ran out onto the field, but it could have been so much better.

As for the game, Jay Feely (AP photo, right) really changed the complexion of the game when he missed a chip-shot field goal to open the game. The Jets took the ball downfield, but came away with nothing when the recently signed bum, I mean kicker, missed. And we all know about the three runs into the line when the Jets had a first and goal from the 3. One pass would have been nice, but the Jets blew a huge opportunity there.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I and most Jet fans dislike Bill Belicheat, but the hatred in the stadium for him was palpable. I don’t know if it came across on television, but twice the chants of “a-hole” were unbelievably loud – one came when the Patriots switched from offense to punt formation on a fourth-down play in the first half, and the second was when a Patriot players was “hurt” when the Jets were trying to go hurry-up later in the game from inside the five yard line. Obviously, the fans (yes, me too) were livid with what was an apparent fake injury that slowed the offensive push. The Jets scored their only touchdown of the game anyway, but the player was booed and then the chant started again at Belicheat.

The crowd exploded when they did score, but the defense couldn’t make the stop on the ensuing drive, and the Patriots kicked a field goal to put the game away. The Jets did have a shot late, but couldn’t get it done. So, the talk about the Jets ascending to the top of the AFC East will stop cold, which is probably a good thing for the Jets. Now they can go to San Diego on Monday night and steal a game they have little shot at winning.

I know there has been a lot of talk today about how bad the fans are at Jet games, and I have to say that, at least where I was, everyone behaved on Sunday. There were a couple of Patriot fans that were loud and talking crap, and Jet fans responded (yes, me too), but there were no fights or anything like that. I have been to games where fights break out and opposing team’s fans are pelted with stuff … but the latter is only for the people that make an ass out of themselves and challenge the home team (no, I don’t throw stuff, or fight). Root for your team, but don’t bring attention to yourself, otherwise you’re just asking for something bad to happen.

Alright, let’s hit some quick topics that have been in the news for the past few days. We’ll call it …
1st and 5 … because the Jets defense just got called for another penalty against the Patriots.

* It was great seeing the Mets lose last night to the Washington Nationals, bringing back memories of last season’s collapse. If the team blamed Willie Randolph for that collapse, who will get blamed this year? The Mets have no big-time, clutch players. If they did, they wouldn’t have lost 1-0 to one of the worst teams in baseball. If only the Brewers were playing well, the Mets might have been cooked already. But the Mets are lucky Milwaukee is going in the tank. We’ll see if the Mets show up tonight.

* Guess who the starting quarterback is in Minnesota? It’s Gus Frerotte, who will replace Tarvaris Jackson in the starting lineup. It’s funny, because two weeks ago on Mike Francesa’s NFL Now show on WFAN, Phil Simms was saying that Jackson was going to be a star. I thought Simms was crazy, but maybe he was on to something, he is CBS’s lead analyst, after all. But I guess I was right. By the way, does anyone believe that Frerotte is still in the NFL? Wow.

* I think the Jets just got called for another penalty.

* This could be the only year in recent memory where the National League playoffs will be more intriguing than the American League playoffs. With the Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies on tap, there is a lot of interesting potential matchups. You’ve got the Cubs quest for a pennant, the Joe Torre-Manny Ramirez connection in Los Angeles, and the Mets and Phillies are always interesting stories. In the American League, we have the Angels, Red Sox, Rays and White Sox. Yawn. I don’t care if you’re a Red Sox fan, you can’t say any of those matchups will be a good watch. Not having the Yankees in the postseason hurts baseball, and you’ll see it this October. The Yankees don’t deserve to be there, but it would be more exciting with them there.

* My fantasy football teams went 3-for-3 this week and racked up a ton of points along the way. My big-money league got back on track with a big victory, surviving a late push by Marion Barber on Monday night. Anquan Boldin’s huge day – and I’ve got him on all three teams – was the reason. In my other two leagues, I scored the most points overall in each. In my NFL picks against the spread this week, I went 5-8-2. Not good. Last week I was 9-7, moving me to 14-15-2 for the season. I’ll try to get those picks posted here on the blog, as right now, they are in the Sunday Herald Press.

BREAKING DOWN OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY PICKS

If the college football Saturday didn’t end with a losing record with my picks, I would have been a little more pumped about the performance Southern Cal put on against Ohio State. But with a 3-4 record on the day, and now a season mark of 10-10-1, we finally dipped below the profit line. It could be worse … if you were going with my brother’s picks, you’d be down over $500 on the season. He had another poor showing, going 2-5 on Saturday. There’s a thin line between a profit and a loss, so a half-point here or a half-point there can make all the difference. Here is a breakdown of our picks.

My Saturday: 3-4 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-1 (upset picks)
My Season: 10-10-1 (spread); 15-6 (overall); 1-1 (upset picks)
My Money: DOWN $100 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 2-5 (spread)
Craig's Season: 8-12-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $520 (season

Game 1: Michigan -2 at Notre Dame
My Pick: Michigan 20, Notre Dame 14
Actual Score: Notre Dame 35, Michigan 17
Of course Notre Dame is going to screw me over again. Last week I picked them to cover, and they were horrible. This week I picked them to lose, and they kill my Wolverines. That’s the Irish for you – only playing to beat me. (AP Photo - above - Notre Dame wide receiver Duval Kamara (18) makes a touchdown catch over Michigan cornerback Morgan Trent during the first quarter Saturday).

Game 2: Penn State -28 at Syracuse
My Pick: Penn State 45, Syracuse 7
Actual Score: Penn State 55, Syracuse 13
A team of criminals – well, maybe half of the team – beat the pathetic Orangemen to even out the day’s record.

Game 3: Georgia -7.5 at South Carolina
My Pick: Georgia 27, South Carolina 17
Actual Score: Georgia 14, South Carolina 7
As reader Richard Smith noted, losing by a half-point isn’t fun. Not in the least. Not at all. Not by any means. Makes you want to do bad things – like go out Saturday night when some Penn State football players. Oh well, the record is 1-2 for the day.

Game 4: Auburn -10 at Mississippi State
My Pick: Auburn 35, Mississippi State 14
Actual Score: Auburn 3, Mississippi State 2
Yes, that’s the right score … 3-2. Pathetic. The Tigers always sucker me into thinking they’re a good team, but they always disappoint. I’ll never pick them again. Well, they should learn the new offensive system soon, and they should run off several big wins in the coming weeks … oh, damn, they suckered me again.

Game 5: Oklahoma -21 at Washington
My Pick: Oklahoma 45, Washington 20
Actual Score: Oklahoma 55, Washington 14
Oklahoma rolled to victory; we’re 2-3 on the day.

Game 6: Southern Cal -11.5 vs. Ohio State
My Pick: Southern Cal 31, Ohio State 17
Actual Score: Southern Cal 35, Ohio State 3
Sometimes, rarely, I get things right. And this was one of them. I said Ohio State had no shot, even with Beanie Wells, at winning this game, and the Buckeyes were destroyed. USC is my national champion right now, so we’ll see how the rest of the season goes. We’re 3-3 on the day.

Game 7: Fresno State +2.5 vs. Wisconsin
My Pick: Fresno State 27, Wisconsin 24
Actual Score: Wisconsin 13, Fresno State 10
This was my upset pick, but Fresno couldn’t pull it off. Fresno scored 10 points in the third quarter, but never held the lead in the game. It was a close ending, but still, at the end of the night, the record was 3-4. Craig went 2-5 on the day, winning just on Penn State and Wisconsin.

MY COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN FOR TOMORROW

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 3-3-1 (spread); 6-1 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 7-6-1 (spread); 10-4 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)

No. 5 Ohio State at No. 1 Southern Cal; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: The question is whether or not Ohio State will actually show up and play well in a big game. The Buckeyes haven’t done it in recent times – getting blown out in the last two national championship games. Can they beat USC tonight in the biggest game of the season? Even with Beanie Wells at RB (he’s doubtful) I don’t think Ohio State would stand a chance. OSU barely beat Ohio last week. USC and QB Mark Sanchez (AP photo, right) are just too good. The Pick: Southern Cal (-11.5) wins it 31-17.

No. 2 Georgia at South Carolina; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: Georgia has scored just one TD in its last two meetings against South Carolina, and QB Matthew Stafford has struggled mightily, which doesn’t bode well for the Bulldogs against the Gamecocks’ stellar defense today. The bottom line, however, is the South Carolina offense, which is basically non-existent. South Carolina lost to Vanderbilt last week and has scored just 23 points in losing its last three home games against Georgia. The Pick: Georgia (-7.5) wins it 27-17.

No. 3 Oklahoma at Washington; 7:45 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Washington fell to 11-27 under coach Ty Willingham after a demoralizing loss to BYU last week. QB Jake Locker scored a potential game-tying TD with two seconds left, and in the moment, threw the ball into the air to celebrate. The refs called a bogus 15-yard penalty and the extra point kick was blocked, giving BYU the win. I just can’t see Washington bouncing back, especially with Oklahoma in town. The Pick: Oklahoma (-21) wins it 45-20.

No. 9 Auburn at Mississippi State; 7 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: Auburn has a new spread offense this year, and the growing pains have been seen on the field already. But the QB competition that had continued through the first two games is finally settled, with junior college transfer Chris Todd winning the job. Auburn is hoping that will get the offense on track. Mississippi State stunned Auburn on the road last year, 19-14, but lost its season opener to Louisiana Tech, 22-14. The Pick: Auburn (-10) wins it 35-14.

No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 21 Fresno State; 10:30 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: Is it just me, or is there fewer and fewer afternoon college football games on TV? The biggest games used to be at 3:30 and a ton of other games were played at noon. But here we are with another huge matchup played late night. It’s wrong, but we all know it’s about money, so it won’t change anytime soon. This will be one of the best games of the day, and Fresno State will prove they belong on the big stage. The Pick: Fresno State (+2.5) wins it 27-24.

No. 17 Penn State at Syracuse; 3:30 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: It’s not surprising that Penn State has had so many disciplinary problems in recent years. When a college team has fallen on hard times, and is looking to recapture old glory, the acceptance standards go way down. It’s the same with teams trying to build from the ground up. Joe Paterno lowered the standards, and now he’s feeling the heat because of it. The Pick: Penn State (-28) wins it 45-7.

Michigan at Notre Dame; 3:30 p.m.; NBC
The Pick: Michigan (-2) wins it 20-14. Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 4-2-1 record last week, moving his season mark to 6-7-1. Here are his picks for the week: Ohio State, Georgia, Washington, Auburn, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan.

BRAD REVIEWS THE SEASON PREMIER OF 'ENTOURAGE' ... AND IT'S NOT GOOD

Finally got to see the season premiere of "Entourage" (AP photo, right) last night on HBO, and all I have to say is: "What the hell?" That was the worst episode I've seen from this show in a long time - and this is one of my favorites. "Entourage" began to go overboard with the whole "we're cool" thing last season, but this first episode, and what is sure to follow, already has the cast drowning. And I'm not happy in the least.

Do I really care that Vince is having sex with tons of women? No. Do I really care that Turtle is finally having sex on the beach of Mexico? No. Do I really care that my favorite character - Johnny Drama - doesn't want to be photographed from the right ... or is it left? ... does it matter? No. Do I really care that Eric is on his way to being a big-shot with a nice office, movie posters, new clients and a secretary? No.

Anyone seeing a pattern here? Even the Ari Gold parts were lame and overacted.

After 10 minutes, I was bored. And that continued until the last three or four minutes, when something finally happened. But the drama that kicked in with Vince getting used by a "Danger Beach" producer to pump up someone else's price, was dropped in a heartbeat. Then it was to the credits. So, like I said, "what the hell?"

Nothing happened ... and that's not the nothing happened in a "Seinfeld" sense ... just plain nothing happened.

Entourage used to be the best show on television, but now it's become a huge joke. It's gone from these group of family and friends making their way through Hollywood, helping Vince become a star, and getting the perks that come with it, to nothing but perks, perks and more perks. Like I said earlier, the show has made these characters "too cool," and it's killing a once-great series.

The producers and writers need to pull back the reigns and go back to basics - which is what made this show an instant hit in the first place. And they need to stop falling back on lame story lines as well. In the first episode, Vince was done with Hollywood, Vince was having sex, Drama had a problem with a photo shoot, Ari wanted Eric to talk sense into Vince, and the gang took a plane to Mexico to talk sense into Vince in person. Does any of that sound familiar? Well, it should, because that was seemingly every episode for the past few seasons.

The only new part of the show was that Eric seems on his way to becoming a success. The only problem with that, is the show is so much better with everyone around Vince (and sometimes including Vince) trying to "make it" in Hollywood. That is what gave the show its charm. Sure, these guys are living the high-life and are always at the hottest parties and so on, but they were still just a bunch of typical guys from Queens (my hometown). They were grounded. But that has changed now, starting with Eric's new success. He is becoming the new Ari - and that is not good for the show.

Oh, and having Richard Roeper doing his television show panning "Medellin" and ripping Vince was useless and worthless and just plain lame. It wasn't needed at all, and the fact his name was mentioned later on, just made me cringe.

It was just the first episode, so that is the good news. It could get a whole lot better, and I'm hoping that it does. But this first episode set up absolutely nothing for the rest of the season. I'll keep my fingers crossed, but so far, so bad, for "Entourage."

MONDAY AFTERNOON GAMEDAY - WEEK 4 - ON TUESDAY

As Week 3 of Monday Afternoon GameDay kicks off, the question is: Where do I start? Brett Favre was exactly what the Jets wanted and needed against the Dolphins, there was plenty of fantasy football mishaps, my college picks were even for the day, the Red Sox and Rays are battling for the AL East and the Yankees are nowhere to be seen, and, oh yeah, Tom Brady is lost for the season after suffering a knee injury against the Chiefs. Then again, how could I not start with Brady?

* First off, as a Jets fan, I am not happy about this at all. I wanted the Jets to take it to Tom Brady (AP photo, right) and Patriots big time this Sunday, and I think they could have won the game with Brady on the field. This is a different Jets team and I thought they were ready to win the division this year. Everything has changed now, with most saying the Jets are now the favorites to win the AFC East. Will it count any less if they do it against a Brady-less Patriots squad? Heck no. You could say that the Patriots are finally getting their payback from the Football Gods for their cheating ways. First, they got beat up in the Super Bowl, and now Brady is gone. It will all be on Bill Belicheat now ... because he was a sub-par head coach without Tom Brady on the field. And, Patriot fans, remember, if anyone knows how you feel right now, it's Jet fans. In 1999, the Jets were one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl, having come within a half of playing in the Super Bowl a year earlier. In the first game of the season, all hope was lost when Vinny Testaverde went down with an injury and was lost for the season. The Jets played Rick Mirer and Ray Lucas at quarterback and ended up missing the playoffs in Bill Parcells' last year coaching the Jets. Will the Patriots make the playoffs this year? I still think so. If they don't, then a lot of questions about Belicheat's genius will come into play. What could be better than that for a Jets fan? Of course, Week 2 is big, as the Jets must beat the Patriots. I'll be in Jersey to watch it all in person.

* And speaking of the Jets, when Brett Favre (AP photo, right) hucked up that pass on the team's second possession and connected with Jericho Cotchery for a touchdown, every Jet fan had to be thinking one thing - Super Bowl! Yes, it's way, way, way too early for that ... but that is what Jet fans do. Chad Pennington was great in the fourth quarter (and it was tough at times remembering that he wasn't playing for the Jets) as he almost led a comeback victory. But luckily he came up just short. The Jets are a vastly improved team and they proved it on Sunday. Say what you will about them escaping Miami, but we knew it would be close because of the Pennington factor. Last season, the Jets would have lost that game. But, like I said earlier, the Jets have to beat New England on Sunday to prove they are the team to beat.

* For you local football fans, make sure you check out The Bristol Press on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday especially as we will be running a "Three Teams In Three Days" football preview special. Bristol Eastern is first up, running in Wednesday's paper; then it's Bristol Central's turn, as they will be in Thursday's paper; and finally St. Paul will be in Friday's paper. Each team will have full coverage ... previews, features, capsules, schedule, starting lineups ... so make sure you pick up a copy of the paper each day. And don't forget to pick up today's paper, as we have full preview coverage of boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey and girls cross country - yes, it's all in today's paper. In addition to Bristol Eastern football, Wednesday's paper will have a full girls volleyball preview.

* By the way, there was no way that hit on Brady was cheap. It was clean and Belicheat needs to stop whining about it.

* Joe Girardi will be back as Yankees manager next season, as everyone expected. I wish they would just admit the mistake and bring back the manager they should have hired in the first place - Don Mattingly.

* Got a victory in my fantasy league's opener in yahoo, beating my brother in Week 1. Big win and big start in that league. Got destroyed in the espn league, as I played Michael Turner, who got 5 billion points. And, finally, took a loss in my cbs big-time money league. That one hurts because a decision cost me a tie. I benched Chicago RB Matt Forte in favor of Tampa WR Joey Galloway in my flex spot. It was a warranted move, as Galloway put up crazy numbers against the Saints in his career. Of course, it didn't work out, and if I started Forte I would have tied the game. A tie is way better than a loss. Should have won the game anyway, but top pick LaDainian Tomlinson did nothing. The team is good, though, and should pick it up starting in Week 2. Hopefully.

* Went 3-6 during the early Sunday NFL games against the spread, and throwing in the Redskins loss on Thursday, I was a horrible 3-7. But a funny thing happened in the late and Monday night games - I went 6-0. That's pretty good stuff. So, I end the week 9-7. If you went with my picks (and going with the base $110 bet) you would have been down $470 at the end of the 1 p.m. games. Little did you know that by late Monday night, you would be up $130. What a comeback, if I do say so myself.

* And, finally, let's go over my Saturday college football picks quickly. Went 3-3-1 this week, when Florida ran up the score late against Miami by kicking a meaningless field goal. That kick gave Florida a 23-point lead and a tie against the spread. Would have had our second straight winning week, but it didn't happen. So, we were down $30 for the day. Craig went 4-2-1 on the day, for a profit of $280. Here is the breakdown:

My Saturday: 3-3-1 (spread); 6-1 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 7-6-1 (spread); 10-4 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $40 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 4-2-1 (spread)
Craig's Season: 6-7-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $170 (season)

Game 1: Cincinnati +21.5 at No. 4 Oklahoma
My Pick: Oklahoma 55, Cincinnati 20
Actual Score: Oklahoma 52, Cincinnati 26
Good job by Oklahoma to start the day off in good fashion ... because ...

Game 2: San Diego State +21.5 Notre Dame
My Pick: Notre Dame 42, San Diego State 17
Actual Score: Notre Dame 21, San Diego State 13
Because ... of this game. Why do I even waste time thinking about Notre Dame? This was a horrible display, and they are just as bad as they were last year. QB Jimmy Clausen is not a good player, no matter what his stats say.

Game 3: No. 8 West Virginia -8 at East Carolina
My Pick: West Virginia 31, East Carolina 21
Actual Score: East Carolina 24, West Virginia 3
East Carolina catapulted to No. 14 in the AP poll this week - and they deserve it after destroying West Virginia. I thought it would be close, but East Carolina turned the game into a rout. ECU may not lose a game this season, which will shake up the BCS again.

Game 4: Louisiana State +20.5 at No. 14 Kansas
My Pick: Kansas 42, Louisiana State 21
Actual Score: Kansas 29, Louisiana State 0
Kansas took care of business and got us back on the winning track as we moved to 2-2 on the day.

Game 5: Miami +23 at No. 5 Florida
My Pick: Florida 38, Miami 24
Actual Score: Florida 26, Miami 3
Like I said earlier, this pick was ruined with the late field goal. So, it's a tie. Florida scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including the field goal with 28 seconds left. Why kick a field goal? Forget about the bet for a second ... why not in the world of sportsmanship just take a knee? Or even run the ball up the middle? Not a classy move for coach Urban Meyer - and I don't like Miami in the least.

Game 6: Stanford +14 at No. 15 Arizona State
My Pick: Arizona State 27, Stanford 20
Actual Score: Arizona State 41, Stanford 17
Arizona State scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to turn a 10-point game entering the final quarter into a blowout and a loss for me, but a win for Craig (which was the only game we differed on this week).

Game 7: No. 10 Texas -26.5 at Texas El-Paso
My Pick: Texas 56, Texas El-Paso 7
Actual Score: Texas 42, Texas El-Paso 13
Texas pulled out the cover late night to give me a 3-3-1 record for the day. Brother Craig, who had a rough 2-5 start last week, differed from me in one game this week - Arizona State. So, he finishes with a 4-2-1 record. He is 6-7-1 for the season. (AP photo, right, is off Texas' Roy Miller.)

* Finally, remember, everyone can post their fantasy or betting stories in the comments, or just about anything else that is bothering you in the world of sports.

TOM BRADY DONE FOR THE SEASON

Monday Afternoon GameDay will move to Tuesday this week as we get ready for the start of the high school fall season with tons and tons of previews in tomorrow's Bristol Press sports section. But here is quick story from the AP about Tom Brady missing the season with injury.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady will miss the entire NFL season with a left knee injury that will require surgery, leaving the New England Patriots without one of the game’s great quarterbacks, their Super Bowl hopes severely damaged.
The 2007 NFL Most Valuable Player will be placed on injured reserve, the Patriots said Monday, one day after his knee was injured in the first quarter of a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
A statement issued before coach Bill Belichick’s news conference said Brady will have surgery, ending his 128-game starting streak, the third longest for a quarterback.
Brady left Sunday’s game against Kansas City after he was hit by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. Brady was not available for comment, but reports circulated around the league that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.
"We feel badly for Tom about the injury," Belichick said while not confirming the exact injury. "You hate to see anyone go down. No one has worked harder or done more for this team than Tom has."
Matt Cassel, who guided New England to its 20th straight regular-season win after Brady was hurt, will start Sunday at the New York Jets.

BRISTOL'S HERNANDEZ SCORES TD FOR FLORIDA AGAINST MIAMI

When Florida kicked a field goal in the final minute to go up by 23 points on Miami late Saturday night, we had to be yelling at the television. The Gators could have just taken a knee, as the game was well in hand, but they kicked it and we were left with a push as Florida topped Miami 26-3. We had Miami +23 in my College GameDay picks.

One person who wasn't complaining in the least, however, was former Bristol Central High School star Aaron Hernandez (AP photo, right), who is playing with the Gators. Hernandez caught five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown in what had to be the highlight of his young career at Florida. Everyone here in Connecticut was saying what a bad decision Hernandez made when he chose Florida over UConn ... well ... except for me, who said it was a no-brainer. Then again, I don't hold UConn football in high regard and they would be on the bottom of my list if I was looking to play college sports. So, I'm happy Hernandez made the choice he wanted and even happier that he is having success at a level he would have never seen at UConn. It doesn't hurt either that people said I was crazy for thinking he would be set up for success playing at such a great football program. Saturday proved he has what it takes and will be used in the offense.

NFL Thoughts And College Football Picks, Miami at No. 5 Florida, More

Before we get into my College GameDay picks, which you can read in print in Saturday's Bristol Press sports section, I have some quick things to hit on about last night's NFL season opener between the Giants and Redskins. (Also, there is breaking news that St. Paul will be the only team left in the Northwest Conference next year ... read the story below this post).

1. Reportedly, Michael Strahan (AP photo, right) was paid $75,000 to make his appearance last night in the pre-game ceremonies for the Super Bowl champions. Are you kidding me? And he had the gall to tell the crowd that they were wrong for thinking he wouldn't return to stand in front of "greatest fans in all of sports." I guess he should have said, "Well, thank God the Giants paid me the dough, because otherwise I would've cared less about being here, in front of you, tonight." I wonder if any other former Giant player was paid to make an appearance. I don't think I would have even thought to ask, as a former player, for that kind of payment.

2. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has to be hoping and praying that his pick for head coach - Jim Zorn - turns into a better coach than he was last night. Zorn mismanaged that game as badly as anyone could have. I sat in disbelief when the team huddled on every play with just three minutes to play and down by two scores. It was an unbelievable sight. And Zorn should have kicked the field goal with a little under a minute to play to cut the lead to six and try for an onside kick – which is what they would have had to do anyway. If those things continue, Zorn won’t and shouldn’t make it through the season.

3. And finally, was that a boring game or what? That second half was horrible. If I didn’t have Clinton Portis on my fantasy team, I might have checked out what else was on television.

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 4-3 (spread); 4-3 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 4-3 (spread); 4-3 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)

Cincinnati at No. 4 Oklahoma; 3:30 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: After both Cincinnati and Oklahoma beat up on some patsies last week, the first test for both teams begins today. Well, it’ll be a little more of a test for Cincinnati than Oklahoma. The Sooners will score points, a ton of points, so that’s a given. Cincinnati, with new QB Dustin Grutza, is going to have to match them score for score because the Bearcats defense has no shot at keeping Oklahoma in check. The Pick: Oklahoma (-21.5) wins it 55-20.

Miami at No. 5 Florida; 8 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Miami is nowhere near the team it was just a few seasons ago, but this is a rivalry game, so throw that fact out the window. Plus, Florida hasn’t beaten Miami in 23 years, with the Canes winning the last six meetings. While that points to Miami having the momentum, it should actually play into Florida’s favor – as the superior Gators, with QB Tim Tebow (AP photo, right) know they can’t take a win for granted. But I can’t see it ending in a blowout. The Pick: Florida (-23) wins it 38-24.

No. 8 West Virginia at East Carolina; 4:30 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: You gotta love this if you’re an East Carolina fan – two home games against ranked opponents to start the season. Nice job by the program, especially after winning the first one over Virginia Tech. Now it’s West Virginia that comes into town. The Mountaineers aren’t the Hokies, as they have talented QB Pat White to lead the offense, so this will be a completely different story. Last year, West Virginia beat East Carolina 48-7. The Pick: West Virginia (-8) wins it 31-21.

No. 10 Texas at Texas El-Paso; 10:15 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: I don’t think there was a more depressing start to a season than the one UTEP had last week. UTEP was crushed by Buffalo – Buffalo! – 42-17, allowing 484 total yards. UTEP turned the ball over three times and picked up just 67 rushing yards. Oh yeah, it was their seventh straight loss. Texas, on the other hand, destroyed Florida Atlantic last week, which was big because they played horrible against bad teams early last year. The Pick: Texas (-26.5) wins it 56-7.

Louisiana State at No. 14 Kansas; 7 p.m.; FSN
The Skinny: Kansas was our adopted team last year, and they rewarded us with a 12-1 season and a victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The expectations are just as high this season. Kansas opened with a 40-10 victory over Florida International, but the team wasn’t happy with their performance, a good sign for tonight’s game. Louisiana State got a big win last week, topping Mississippi State 22-14, but Kansas should be too much. The Pick: Kansas (-20.5) wins it 42-21.

San Diego State at Notre Dame; 3:30 p.m.; NBC
The Skinny: Joseph Brady’s favorite team should open their season with a big win at home today on NBC. Coach Charlie Weis and the Irish are hoping this is the year they get back on the college football map, and while this sole game won’t make that happen, it would be a nice start. I just wish the spread was a point lower. The Pick: Notre Dame (-21.5) wins it 42-17.

Stanford at No. 15 Arizona State; 10 p.m.; FSN
The Pick: Arizona State (-14) wins it 27-20.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He got off to a rough start last week, finishing with a 2-5 record. Here are his picks for the week: Oklahoma, Miami, West Virginia, Texas, Kansas, Notre Dame, Arizona State.

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ... AND TONIGHT'S PICK

A couple of quick hits before we make tonight's pick between the Redskins and Giants in the NFL's season opener:

1. Was there any doubt that the first use of instant replay would involve an Alex Rodriguez (AP photo, right) home run? Didn't think so. Last night, A-Rod's homer against the Rays was upheld. By the way, now ... NOW ... the Yankees start hitting and scoring runs. Of course they are - there's no more pressure. I do think it's funny that the Red Sox will have to thank the Yankees for them winning the AL East. The Sox are only three games back now after the Bombers knocked Tampa around for the past two days. I'm still hoping the Rays hold on and inject some life into the postseason.

2. Is there a funnier story that Tatum Bell allegedly stealing the luggage of Rudi Johnson? After the Lions signed the free agent running back (Johnson), the team waived Bell. That same day, apparently, according to Johnson, who says he saw the surveillance video, Bell walked out of the building with Johnson's luggage. Hilarious. If it's true that Bell did this on purpose (and not by accident) he may have just ended his NFL career. After all, would you want that kind of guy on your team?

3. Daunte Culpepper (AP photo, top right) retired today, ending a career that went from 100 to 0 in about 10 seconds. Culpepper was awesome early in his Minnesota career. But I'll always remember him from when I made the biggest mistake of my fantasy football career by drafting him No. 3 overall after his record-breaking year. He had an ok season, but that's not what you need from that spot in the draft. There was no celebrating that year, as I was forced to start Mike Alstott several times. Making things worse, this was my big-time money league. I did go back to the well again, however, and drafted him late when he signed with the Dolphins years later in another league, thinking he would regain his form, but that didn't happen either. He was on my bench before long. So, happy trails to you, Daunte.

4. Had a conversation with someone today about whether it's better or not to have a bye week in the fantasy baseball playoffs. I have a bye (as a two-seed) in my league and he is playing this week. He says he'd rather play because he wants to keep up on everything that is going on, while if he was on a bye, he wouldn't pay attention. While that is true, as I have no idea what my players have done this week, I'd take the free pass to the semifinals any day, any season, any sport. There's just too many things that can happen in a one-week playoff game.

5. Michigan and Rutgers football both stink.

REDSKINS +4.5 at GIANTS, TONIGHT
Ok, here we go. The NFL season finally kicks off tonight and I couldn't be more excited. There is nothing quite like the opening of the football season. No matter what the preseason picks are, every single team has a shot at the playoffs. Baseball doesn't hold a candle to that. So, tonight, the team I rooted for in the Super Bowl against Belicheat and the Pats begins its unlikely title defense against the rival Redskins in Jersey. First off, the rooting for the Giants ended there, as I was rooting more against the cheating Pats than the G-Men. Plus, I have Clinton Portis on one of my fantasy teams, so I'll be rooting for him big time. The Giants don't have the same defense they had a year ago, with Michael Strahan retiring and Osi Umenyiora lost for the season with an injury. Those guys are out, and Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka are in. Not exactly the same talent. But, still, the team should be good enough to win at least 9 games this season. And Plaxico Burress signed a two-year contract extension today, so he should be very happy. As for tonight, I think they'll hold on for the victory, but the Redskins will keep it within a field goal and cover the spread. My Pick: Redskins +4.5. Brother Craig's Pick: Giants -4.5.

Check back later in the week for our full NFL Week 1 picks.

UCLA Gives Us A Winning Week

Game 7: No. 18 Tennessee -7.5 at UCLA
My Pick: UCLA 27, Tennessee 24
Actual Score: UCLA 27, Tennessee 24
UCLA pulled off the upset last night against No. 18 Tennessee in overtime, and with it came a winning week for College GameDay. I went 4-3 with my picks, while brother Craig went a rough 2-5 to start the year. He had Tennessee. With a base $110 bet, which makes the math easier, we would have profited $70 for the college weekend. Not bad. (By the way, if you were gutsy enough to go with the upset pick in UCLA, the profit would have been around $450). If you went with Craig's picks, you'd be looking at a deficit of $350 already. Not good. As for the game, the final four minutes and overtime was as exciting as it could get in college football. UCLA finally won the game after Tennessee missed a field goal in overtime. All in all, a great ending to the first college football weekend and for GameDay. But there is a long, long way to go.

Monday Afternoon GameDay - Week 3

It's Week 3 of Monday Afternoon GameDay and we've got a lot to talk about and dissect from the weekend that was. Sunday was a long, long day as I had three fantasy football drafts (all pay leagues) that went back-to-back-to-back. So, from about 12 p.m. to about 12:30 a.m., I was either drafting or talking draft. At the end of the day, I was beat, and I barely left my couch. Saturday was the first day of the college football season, so we got my picks to go over. We’ll also kick off the NFL season with my over/under picks for the every team. Also, everyone out there can post their over/under picks in the comments and we’ll come up with a champion at the end of the season. And, without saying much, the Yankees are done for the year, so look for a lot of changes in 2009. I hope they fire Joe Girardi and bring in Don Mattingly, like they should have originally, but that won't happen.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY
Each Monday I’ll go over my picks from my College GameDay column in The Bristol Press and try to figure out what went right and, more likely, what went wrong.

Game 1: Bowling Green +13 at No. 25 Pittsburgh
My Pick: Pittsburgh 33, Bowling Green 17
Actual Score: Bowling Green 27, Pittsburgh 17
I thought the day was off to a great start when Pittsburgh was up 14-0 early on Bowling Green. After that, however, it was all Bowling Green and we had an upset on the horizon. I have no idea what happened after halftime (when Pitt was leading 17-14) but the Panthers didn’t score a point in the second half and went down to the upset. Record: 0-1.

Game 2: No. 17 Virginia Tech -9.5 at East Carolina
My Pick: Virginia Tech 28, East Carolina 12
Actual Score: East Carolina 27, Virginia Tech 22
The second early game had me thinking I would be a quick 2-0 to start the year. Virginia Tech was horrible in the early stages, but they still held a 14-0 lead, pretty much on the same track as Pittsburgh. But the Hokies couldn’t overcome their bad play and ended up getting upset at East Carolina. Pathetic. Record: 0-2.

Game 3: No. 3 Southern Cal -19.5 at Virginia
My Pick: Southern Cal 31, Virginia 10
Actual Score: Southern Cal 52, Virginia 7
Southern Cal proved that they are headed for another national championship with this rout of Virginia. Can’t really say much more than that. USC was dominating, and if they beat Ohio State, then they won’t lose the rest of the season. First win of the day for me as well. Record: 1-2.

Game 4: No. 24 Alabama +4.5 vs. No. 9 Clemson
My Pick: Clemson 38, Alabama 28.
Actual Score: Alabama 34, Clemson 10
I was completely wrong on this game, but that will teach me to buy into the Clemson hype. Clemson always chokes the big games and I should have listened to that trend. Instead, I thought Alabama wasn’t ready for the big time yet. Wrong. Record: 1-3.

Game 5: No. 20 Illinois +9 at No. 6 Missouri
My Pick: Missouri 45, Illinois 31
Actual Score: Missouri 52, Illinois 42
I needed Missouri to hang on to give me a shot at a winning week – and they came through big. Up by 10 with three minutes to go, Illinois had the ball and the chance to ruin the pick by putting up points late, but a 35-yard fumble return by Missouri gave me a 17-point cushion and the victory. Illinois added a late touchdown, but with the spread at 9, we were saved. Record: 2-3.

Game 6: Washington +13.5 at No. 21 Oregon
My Pick: Oregon 31, Washington 10
Actual Score: Oregon 44, Washington 10
The night ended on a great note as Oregon scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to cruise to an easy win and even up my record for the day – a nice turnaround. At the half, the score was 14-10, so we were a little worried. But the Ducks outscored Washington 30-0 in the second half for the cover. Record: 3-3.

Game 7: No. 18 Tennessee -7.5 at UCLA
My Pick: UCLA 27, Tennessee 24
Actual Score: Tonight, 8 p.m., ESPN
We need a big game from UCLA tonight to give us a winning week. Keep it within a touchdown and we’ll make a profit. Craig Carroll went 2-4 in the Saturday games, but went with Tennessee tonight.

FANTASY FOOTBALL SUNDAY
The night ended great last night for me as I got the No. 1 draft pick in my big-time money league, meaning LaDainian Tomlinson was mine. Couldn’t ask for anything better than that. Here is the rest of the team: QB: Donovan McNabb. RB: LaDainian Tomlinson. RB: Jamal Lewis. WR: Marques Colston. WR: Anquan Boldin. TE: Vernon Davis. K: Nick Folk. DEF: Chargers. FLEX: Joey Galloway or Matt Forte. Gotta love this team, especially considering the big-money circumstances involved.

In the middle draft, I ended up getting the 11th pick overall, not cool. But here is what I made of it. Running backs Clinton Portis and Marshawn Lynch were my top two picks. Here is the rest of the team: QB: Brett Favre. RB: Clinton Portis. RB: Marshawn Lynch. WR: Torry Holt. WR: Anquan Boldin. TE: Jason Witten. K: Nate Kaeding. DEF: Chargers. FLEX: Nate Burleson or Justin Fargas.

In the opening draft of the day, I got great news when Brian Westbrook fell to my No. 5 slot. Needless to say, I was ecstatic, as I got the player I would have drafted at No. 3. That was the biggest get of the day. This is also the draft that includes individual defensive players, which I love, and since I’m the commissioner of this league, there in. Here is that team: QB: Drew Brees. RB: Brian Westbrook. RB: Maurice Jones-Drew. WR: Anquan Boldin. WR: Calvin Johnson. TE: Ben Watson. FLEX: Lee Evans. K: Neil Rackers. DEF: Chargers. D: Jared Allen. DB: Antonio Cromartie. DL: Shaun Phillips.

Love all three teams, but we’ll see what happens when the games start.

NFL FUTURES
Post your season over/under picks in the comments and we’ll see how everyone did at the end of the year (make sure you put down your name). Here is my full list of over/under picks for every NFL team.
New England Patriots: Over 12
New York Giants: Over 8.5
New York Jets: Over 8
Arizona Cardinals: Over 8
Washington Redskins: Under 7.5
Baltimore Ravens: Over 6.5
Buffalo Bills: Under 7.5
Carolina Panthers: Under 7.5
Chicago Bears: Over 7.5
Cincinnati Bengals: Under 7
Cleveland Browns: Over 8
Dallas Cowboys: Over 10.5
Denver Broncos: Under 7.5
Detroit Lions: Over 6.5
Green Bay Packers: Over 8.5
Houston Texans: Under 7.5
Indianapolis Colts: Over 11
Jacksonville Jaguars: Over 10
Kansas City Chiefs: Under 5.5
Miami Dolphins: Under 5.5
Minnesota Vikings: Over 8.5
New Orleans Saints: Over 8.5
Oakland Raiders: Under 6
Philadelphia Eagles: Over 8.5
Pittsburgh Steelers: Over 9
San Diego Chargers: Over 10.5
San Francisco 49ers: Under 6
Seattle Seahawks: Over 8.5
St. Louis Rams: Under 6.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Over 8
Tennessee Titans: Over 8
Atlanta Falcons: Under 4.5