The pressure is on today. The Boss says if this column doesn’t produce at least 10,000 Internet hits, he’s going to fire me — and I don’t have Johnny Damon around to save the day.
Undefeated and Untried
Are the Sun Devils the most untested 6-0 team in college football? Maybe, but it sure beats being the most untested 5-1 (hello, USC) or 4-2 team.
Winning on the road in the conference isn’t easy no matter the opponent, so Saturday’s 23-20 win at Washington State will do just fine.
But would ASU fans feel better if Rudy Carpenter had shown more command? If ASU’s running game had lined up and just trampled a poor Cougar defense? If Justin Tryon could have completed his touchdown gallop — with an interception that required little more than catching a pass thrown right to him — without all the embarrassing theatrics? You betcha.
I’m still waiting for signs this team can beat Cal, win at Oregon or hang with the now wide-awake and angry Trojans. So far, I haven’t seen enough in any one phase of the game to think it can carry the day.
Calling all backups
So much for that Cardinals quarterback controversy.
With Matt Leinart out for the foreseeable future, finding a backup to talented but brittle Kurt Warner is suddenly key for a team that can go to 4-2 with a win over injury-riddled, Jake-Delhomme-less Carolina.
Tim Rattay lives in Anthem after being cut by Tennessee. He’s accurate and young enough to sidestep an oncoming rusher. He makes sense.
But before the Cards tread into the shark-infested waters of old-timers like Vinny Testaverde and Mark Brunell, use a draft pick to bring in someone’s No. 3 who can still play and can’t remember when Richard Nixon was president. Trade a fourth-round pick — the guy the Cardinals take there is usually cut by the end of training camp anyway.
After a 2-1 week (I picked Arizona, let the hazing begin) and sitting at 10-5 for the season, we make our weekly picks a few days early so Brownie Points can come to you live from Chase Field Thursday:
• ASU 31, Washington 21: Look for the usual slow start at home, followed by just enough to get the Sun Devils to the off week at 7-0 and possibly into the top 10 before the gauntlet begins Oct. 27 against Cal.
• USC 44, Arizona 10: As usual, Mike Stoops’ timing is impeccable. After losing an engraved invitation to the BCS title game, its home winning streak and the right to tell Jim Harbaugh to shut up last, the Men of Troy will stew in their own juices for seven days before you-know-who comes to the Coliseum. Thumbs down, Arizona.
• Arizona 24, Carolina 14: The scary thing is if Warner had taken all the snaps this season, the Cardinals could be 6-0 — or he could have been the one wearing the sling and neck collar by now. If the Panthers are lucky, skittish David Carr will be their starter Sunday — but can you really call that lucky?
• Yes, Joe Torre has a big payroll and a lot of great players to work with. But keep in mind. Torre has taken the Yankees to the playoffs 12 years in a row. In the 12 years before that, with George Steinbrenner throwing money at everything that moved — the Yankees made the playoffs once.
• Bad news for Suns fans. The Spurs gave 36-year-old Bruce Bowen a two-year contract extension through the 2009-10 season.
• Line I wished I’d thought of, from “Saturday Night Live:” “Anucha Browne Sanders would have gotten more than $11.6 million from the Knicks had she been an aging shooting guard with bad knees.”