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Monday, August 7

   by Larry Ness - 08/07/2006

Were you ready for some football? I'm not sure I was. The Eagles' Donovan McNabb completed all three of his passes (29 yards) while leading Philadelphia on a 61-yard scoring drive on the team's first possession (and McNabb's only one) of the game. After that, the only score by the Eagles came on a Hall of Fame game record 55-yard field goal by David Akers.

My free play for Monday is on the Cin Reds over the StL Cards at 7:10 ET. Coming off a 3-1 MLB weekend, I'm opening the new week with a Technical Insider (backed by two winning trends of 73%) plus a 15* ALCS Rematch on the Angels/White Sox on ESPN.

The entire backup crew contributed, as QBs Garcia and Chang each threw an interception, with Detmer losing a fumble. RB Bruce Perry lost two fumbles, giving Philly five turnovers for the game. The Raiders were slightly better, losing just two turnovers plus botching the snap on a short field goal attempt. Speaking of FGs, Janikowski kicked two long ones for the Raiders, from 50 and 51 yards. Oh yeah, the final was Oakland 16-10 over Philadelphia.

USA Today released hits preseason coaches' poll last Friday and Ohio State will open the 2006 season as the nation's No. 1 team. However, unlike last year when USC claimed all but two of the first-place votes, the top-six teams all received at least one first-place vote, the most since 2001 when nine schools garnered at least one vote. Ohio State got 28 No. 1 votes and defending champ Texas will open as the nation's No. 2 team, with 11 first place votes.

Notre Dame (nine votes) and USC (one) finished in a tie for third and Oklahoma finished fifth. The Sooners actually received the second-most first-place votes (13) of any team but of course the poll was taken prior to the suspension of the team's starting QB, Rhett Bomar. Of interest is the wide discrepancy in opinion on the Sooners this year, as they got votes from No. 1 to as low as No. 22! Auburn, which opens No. 6, was the only other school to receive a nod at the top spot.

The SEC claimed the most teams in the top-25 with six while the ACC, Big-10 and Big-12 all claimed four spots. The Pac-10 had three, the Big East two, the MWC had one (TCU) and of course No. 3 Notre Dame plays by its own rules (one could consider the Irish an independent or a member of Conference-NBC!). By the way, the last time ND was ranked this high in the preseason was 1992 (opened unranked last year).

No. 23 Tennessee, which finished last year at 5-6, is the only team to be ranked which had a losing record in 2005. No. 15 Michigan and No. 17 Iowa both finished 7-5 last year and join the Vols as the only schools in this year's preseason poll to not have been ranked in the final coaches' poll of 2005. Teams which finished last year in the final top-25 but were not among this year's first poll include UCLA (finished No. 13 last year), Wisconsin (15) and Boston College (17).

MLB notes

Go figure the Dodgers! They opened MLB's second half by losing 13 of 14 games after the break. During that run, they were outscored 81-29 with a team batting average of .222 and a team ERA of 5.41. So who's MLB's hottest team as the new week begins? The Dodgers, naturally. They've rebounded to win nine consecutive games as Monday's play begins, outscoring their opponents by 65-23 while hitting .310 and posting a team ERA of 2.55!

Elias reports that the Dodgers have now won nine consecutive games, a streak that began after they lost eight straight. They are the sixth team in major-league history to lose at least eight straight games and follow that immediately with a winning streak of at least eight games. The others: the 1931 Cubs, 1949 Red Sox, 1965 Pirates, 1985 Twins and 2001 Cubs.

The Dodgers' starting pitcher has earned a victory in each of the team's last six games and all six of those games have been on the road. In the last 10 years, only one major-league team has had a longer streak of that type. Seattle won eight straight games -- all on the road -- with a starting pitcher getting the victory each time in 2003.

The Cardinals took a seven-game losing streak into the weekend's action but after losing to the Brewers 4-3 on Friday, won both Saturday and Sunday. The team's eight-game losing streak was its second eight-game losing streak of the season and that hadn't happened since 1983! The Blue Jays ended their seven-game losing streak by beating the White Sox on Sunday, 7-3.

Of note in that game was the losing pitcher, Jose Contreras. It's Contreras' fourth loss since July 14, the day his 17-game winning streak ended, tying for the most losses for any pitcher in the majors over that period. MLB's longest active losing streak, now that St Louis and Toronto have won, currently belongs to the Royals (four games). I guess that's fitting, as KC also owns MLB's worst overall record, at 38-73.

Monday's MLB schedule features a relatively light nine-game card, including the Angels and White Sox making up a rain out from May 11 at 7:05 ET tonight in Chicago on ESPN. Of course these teams met in last year's ALCS with the White Sox winning four straight games (all complete games) after the Angels opened with a 3-2 win in Game 1.

It's hard to believe they'll be a complete game tonight, by either starting pitcher. The Angels send Kelvim Escobar to the mound and he's 1-9 with a 6.21 career ERA vs the White Sox in 18 appearances. That includes an 0-7 mark in nine starts, with a 5.64 ERA. As for Chicago's Mark Buehrle, the one-time ace of the staff is 0-5 with a 9.92 ERA in his last six outings!

Speaking of rematches, the Twins open a three-game series tonight in Detroit vs the Tigers. Detroit was able to take two of three in Minnesota from July 28-July 30 and have now won nine of the 12 meetings this year between the two teams. Tonight's pitching matchup features two rookies, the Twins' Francisco Liriano (12-2, 1.96) and the Tigers' Zack Miner (6-2, 4.03). These guys hooked up back on July 28, in a game the Tigers won 3-2 (10 innings).

Liriano allowed just three hits and two runs in that game over eight innings (12 Ks), while Miner allowed four hits and two runs in six innings. Liriano has not pitched since (left forearm?) and it will be interesting how he does. As for Miner, the Tigers are 8-3 in his 11 starts this year but his last win came back on July 16 and over his last four starts he's got an ERA of 7.36.

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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