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Alabama dominates Arkansas, makes case for No. 1 (Updated with link to video)

Univesity of Alabama running back Trent Richardson (3) tries to break away from the South Carolina defensive including Stephon Gilmore (5), Antonio Allen (26) and Chaun Gresham (29) during their NCAA college football game in Columbia,South Carolina October 9, 2010. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Go ahead, tell me a team that wants to play Alabama right now.

The Crimson Tide destroyed Arkansas 38-14 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, announcing to the nation — if it didn’t know already — that they were once again a serious national title contender.

But it wasn’t just the score, it was the way the Tide dominated every facet of the game to pick up the blowout victory. Trent Richardson ran wild, accumulating 126 yards on 17 carries, and 85 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. A.J. McCarron was pretty near perfect, going 15-of-20 for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

And the defense. Oh, the defense.

Arkansas finished with 226 total yards, almost all of which came through the air. The Razorbacks run game managed just 17 (!) yards on 19 carries. Yes, math majors, that’s less than one yard per carry. The ‘Bama defense/special teams also chipped in offensively with an interception return for a touchdown and a beautiful punt return for a score by Marquis Maze. On the return, Maze cut back across about half of the Arkansas coverage team (that might be a slight exaggeration), and then cut back on the final guy just for the heck of it. It was as if he wanted the Arkansas trainers to have one more set of ankles to tape this week.

Alabama has another test next week against Florida. The Gators have the type of speed on offense that can score on anyone if given room, but something tells me Nick Saban will outwit Charlie Weis and figure out how to not give those guys room. The big matchup, of course, is Nov. 5 at home against LSU. That will very likely be for the SEC West title, which essentially means a trip to the national title game. Both defenses are outstanding, but at this point you’d have to give a major edge to the Tide offensively.

Some other thoughts from today’s daytime games:

- Ohio State has found its quarterback, and I think a lot of people knew it was going to happen. Braxton Miller didn’t have eye-popping passing numbers by any stretch (5-of-13, 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns), but he used his feet to gain 83 more yards. With either quarterback, Ohio State is going to have to go through some growing pains in the passing game, so it makes the most sense to stick with the youngster who adds an extra dimension to the game.

- Oklahoma State did its part to make sure Texas A&M doesn’t leave the Big 12 with a conference title. The Cowboys rallied to beat A&M 30-29 at Kyle Field, in what is likely the last conference meeting between the two schools. The Aggies, who look to be headed to the SEC next season, jumped out to a 20-3 lead before surrendering 27 straight points to the Cowboys. A&M can still win the Big 12, but it will need some help, and a win against No. 1 Oklahoma. Good luck with that.

- Tommy Rees was horrible for most of Notre Dame’s game against Pitt, but the sophomore found a way to come up bit when it mattered, going 8-of-8 on the Irish’s final touchdown drive to give his team a 15-12 win. On the touchdown, Rees fit a pass through a tiny hole to tight end Tyler Eifert. It was the kind of crisp, decisive pass he hadn’t made all game. His ability to bounce back must be what keeps him in games, because Brian Kelly has certainly had a lot longer leash with Rees than he did with Dayne Crist.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Tommy Rees is the absolute right choice against Michigan

Much was made of the quarterback change at Notre Dame earlier this week as Brian Kelly named Tommy Rees the starter over Dayne Crist.

It wasn’t much of a surprise after Rees came into the game for Crist in Notre Dame’s 23-20 opening week loss against South Florida, and was much more productive. But for the first night game in the Big House, against a defense like Michigan’s, Rees is the perfect choice.

Rees is unflappable, meaning the moment of playing under the lights in front of 110,000 screaming banshees won’t bother him. Rees’ first three starts were at Notre Dame, Yankee Stadium and USC. He’s used to big-time environments. Then again, anyone who plays at Notre Dame is.

He also doesn’t get down on himself when he makes mistakes. A year ago, he threw three interceptions against USC, but he never got down on himself, and made plays down the stretch to help the Irish pick up their first win against USC since the Bob Davie era. It’s part of the reason Notre Dame fans have taken to subtly comparing him to Joe Montana (this is beyond a stretch, but when you haven’t competed for a national title since 1993, sometimes you stretch).

Rees is going to make mistakes, but Crist would have made them, too. Rees will be able to overcome those mistakes in front of 110,000 people, while Crist hasn’t shown the ability to do that, even on his homefield.

But Rees being the right pick goes beyond the mental aspect of the game. Crist has the bigger arm and is a better runner than Rees, but he isn’t quick to make a decision as his three-star counterpart. Against Michigan’s secondary, there are going to be openings, and Rees will see them early and exploit them. A less decisive quarterback would miss those. Michigan’s also going to bring a lot of heat, which again forces the quarterback to make quick decisions.

Rees is likely to be the guy for the rest of the season, but even if Crist had played well against South Florida, I feel like Rees would have been a better choice in this game. Does that mean Notre Dame is going to win the game? That will depend more on their defense than anything, but it definitely gives them a good shot.

Notre Dame’s high hopes crash and burn in Week 1

Coach Brian Kelly (L) leads his Notre Dame team onto the field before their NCAA football game with Army, at the first football game at the new Yankee Stadium, in New York November 20, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Everything that could have gone wrong for Notre Dame today did. Fumble on the 1-yard line that was returned all the way for a touchdown? Check. A pair of interceptions inside the 10-yard line? Check. Seventy-three yards of penalties? Check.

All this added up to a 23-20 loss to South Florida in the Irish’s home opener. It wasn’t the start to the season Notre Dame expected. It wasn’t the start anyone expected, as several pundits had the Irish headed to a BCS game this year. That’s still not completely out of the question, but it sure seems like a longshot that this team can find a way to win 10 games.

Notre Dame was horribly prepared for this game, that’s the only way to explain what happened. If there’s one or two fluky/bad plays that cost you, that can be blamed on individuals. When it’s permeated throughout the entire team, that rests on the shoulders of the coaches. Brian Kelly didn’t have his team ready to play today, for whatever reason, and now the Irish are 0-1 in a season they were supposed to “return to glory.”

Making matters worse, Notre Dame dominated nearly every statistical category. They out-gained South Florida 508-254. They held the Bulls to three yards per rush (in reality, the defense played well, only allowing one touchdown despite being put in a bad spot multiple times).

One positive that comes from this is that Notre Dame found its starting quarterback for the rest of the season: Tommy Rees. The negative, Kelly maybe should have realized that before naming Dayne Crist the starter a couple of weeks ago. Rees led the Irish to a 4-0 finish last season. He’s more accurate and 10-bazillion times more poised. Crist struggled in the first half, throwing an interception in the redzone (Rees threw one there, too, but that one was on the receiver) and making a handful of poor throws that stalled drives. Rees took over in the second half and was 24-of-34 for 296 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Yes, there were two weather delays in the game, but if anything, those were beneficial to the Irish. There is nowhere other than Kelly and the coaching staff to pin this loss. When you’re Notre Dame, you have to be ready to go every week. This team clearly was not.

2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

Let’s be honest: Sports bloggers know everything. Just ask us. As part of our 2010 Year-End Sports Review, our list of things we already knew this year includes Brad Childress’ biggest fail, Wade Phillips’ demise in Dallas and John Calipari’s troubles. We also knew Kevin Durant was the next great superstar (who didn’t see that coming?), Roger Clemens is the ultimate windbag and that “Matty Ice” knows fourth-quarter comebacks. We should have gone to medical school…

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

LeBron is a frontrunner.

We all were a little surprised that LeBron left Cleveland, but the writing was on the wall. Growing up, LeBron didn’t root for the local teams. He followed the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys, which in the 1990s constituted the Holy Triumvirate of Frontrunning. He wore his Yankee cap to an Indians game and was seen hobnobbing on the Cowboy sidelines during a Browns game. He says he’s loyal, but he’s only loyal to winners…unless they only win in the regular season, of course.

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Brad Childress’ biggest flaw cost him his job in the end.

There were many reasons why the Vikings decided to fire head coach Brad Childress roughly a year after they signed him to a contract extension. One of the reasons was because he lost with a talented roster. Another was because he never quite figured out how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, which is a sin given how talented AP is. But the main reason “Chilly” was ousted in Minnesota was because he didn’t know how to manage NFL-caliber personalities. He didn’t know how to handle Brett Favre, which led to blowups on the sidelines and multiple face-to-face confrontations. He also didn’t have a clue how to deal with Randy Moss’ crass attitude, so he released him just four weeks after the team acquired him in a trade from New England. Childress was hired in part to help clean up the mess in Minnesota after the whole “Love Boat” scandal. But the problem with a disciplinarian that hasn’t first earned respect is that his demands fall on deaf ears. In the end, Childress’ inability to command respect from his players cost him his job. You know, on top of the fact that he was losing with a talented roster, he didn’t know how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, he…

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner will forever be one of baseball’s icons.

You may have hated his brash attitude, the way he ran his team or the way he conducted his business. You may even feel that he ruined baseball. But regardless of how you may have felt about him, there’s little denying that George Steinbrenner will forever be one of Major League Baseball’s icons. Steinbrenner passed away in July of this year. He will forever be a man known for helping revolutionize the business side of baseball by being the first owner to sell TV cable rights to the MSG Network. When things eventually went south with MSG, he created the YES Network, which is currently the Yankees’ very own TV station that generates millions in revenue. During his tenure, he took the Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a $1.2 billion juggernaut. In 2005, the Yankees became the first professional sports franchise to be worth an estimated one billion dollars. While many baseball fans came to despise the way he ran his team (mainly because he purchased high priced free agents with reckless abandon due to the fact that he could and others couldn’t), don’t miss the message he often made year in and year out: The Yankees are here to win. He didn’t line his pockets with extra revenue (albeit he generated a lot of extra revenue for his club) – he dumped his money back into the on-field product. Losing wasn’t acceptable and if the Bombers came up short one year, you could bet that Steinbrenner would go after the best talent in the offseason, regardless of what others thought of the approach. How many Pirates and Royals fans wish they had an owner with the same appetite for victory?

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Whitlock: Notre Dame must fire Brian Kelly

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches as his team takes on the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on September 25, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 37-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

FOX Sports columnist Jason Whitlock has weighed in on the death of Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan and writes that head coach Brian Kelly should be fired for his negligence in the situation.

Kelly should not coach the Irish on Saturday when they take on Tulsa.

We don’t need a thorough and exhaustive investigation to recognize Kelly’s negligence. A coach’s most important job, particularly at the amateur level, is to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of the young people under his control.

Kelly failed in the worst way possible.

Mitigating circumstances do not matter. Notre Dame’s video coordinator should not be held responsible. Declan Sullivan, who tweeted before and during practice the weather conditions were terrifying and life threatening, certainly isn’t to blame.

The head football coach has final say over everything that transpires on the practice field. Everything. That’s why Ohio State’s Jim Tressel moved the Buckeyes’ practice inside on Tuesday when wind gusts made conditions unsafe.

Whitlock goes on to write that he understands why Kelly had his team practicing outside and also takes time to rip AD Jack Swarbrick for essentially making sure that the media knew he wasn’t at the practice long enough to tell Sullivan to come down.

I don’t know. My emotions say yes, fire Kelly and Swarbrick for their irresponsibility and extreme negligence. Sullivan should have never been on the lift in the first place and if Kelly thought it was dangerous enough to keep his team inside the day before because of a tornado warning, then he should have known not to have students filming practice from that high up during swirling winds. It was absolutely moronic for anyone to ok Sullivan being up on that lift.

That said, do we have the full details here? Do we know who was actually responsible for sending the young man up there? Was it Kelly, someone on his coaching staff, Sullivan’s boss, who? Did someone force him to go up there? If someone forced him to go up there, then done deal – someone has to lose their job. But if this was just a case of people not using their heads (as in, Sullivan went up there as he normally would and nobody thought to tell him to come down), then it’s up to the University to decide what the right course of action should be. Don’t follow up one irresponsible decision with another by firing people without compiling all the details.

Either way, a young man lost his life and for the time being, everyone should be morning his passing and not trying to assess blame. I imagine there will be plenty of time for that later.

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