- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

HE SAID WHAT?

“I feel like an athlete. First time in my life.” - Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who ruptured both the MCL and ACL in his left knee in a sideline collision during a victory over Michigan

TAKE YOUR PICK » Will Europe extend its streak of dominance over the United States in the Ryder Cup?

Yes - The Europeans have won three straight Ryder Cups and five of the last six, often over favored U.S. teams. When the teams meet this week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., Europe will have the largest edge on paper in any of the recent meetings between the teams; convalescing Tiger Woods won’t be playing. World No. 2 Phil Mickelson has a 1-7-1 record in the last two events. Europe boasts the two hottest players in attendance in Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Spain’s Sergio Garcia.

No - Europe’s main advantage in the event over the last decade has been team chemistry, and European captain Nick Faldo seriously damaged that unity by choosing arrogant Ian Poulter over Ryder Cup veteran Darren Clarke. The U.S. squad is overdue to pull an upset, and the combination of dissension in the European ranks and what should prove to be a raucous U.S. crowd should help the team put an end to Europe’s run of dominance.

Our Take - Even with Tiger on the shelf and Harrington’s emergence as a star, Europe doesn’t have much of an advantage on paper; the average world ranking of Europe’s dozen is 22.4 to the United States’ 24.7. That’s an insignificant margin.

And while Europe has played far better in recent Ryder Cups, it is missing a couple of recent stalwarts (Colin Montgomerie and Clarke), while the U.S. squad that includes six first-timers features few players with the scar tissue of recent failures.

This is going to be a far closer competition than expected. It would be folly to pick against Europe given recent history, but the United States definitely has the firepower to turn back the foreigners if its rookies don’t crumble under the event’s infamous pressure and Mickelson turns up ready to play.

TWT FIVE “ Current Heisman Rankings

1. Chase Daniel, Missouri - Has already thrown for 973 yards with 10-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma - Completed 64 of 81 passes (79 percent) for 12 touchdowns.

3. Mark Sanchez, USC - Trojans quarterback is the best player on the best team.

4. Tim Tebow, Florida - Needs to shred questionable Tennessee defense to keep pace.

5. Knowshon Moreno, Georgia - Averaging 6.7 yards a carry.

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