Our weekly Heat Check begins with the hottest team around. No, not Georgia State.
FALCONS: Made it to 8-0, disappointing Al Michaels and especially Cris Collinsworth in the process. Stacked 453 yards on Rob Ryan’s star-spangled Dallas defense. Next up is New Orleans in the Superdome, site of last December’s Drew Brees rub-it-in record-breaking. Barometer reading: Some in the national keep saying none of this matters if the Falcons don’t win a playoff game. When last I checked, there are no playoff games scheduled until January. Bradley’s Rule: Can’t win in January unless you qualify for the postseason, and being 8-0 makes qualification one less thing to sweat.
GEORGIA: That wobble at South Carolina aside, the Bulldogs are almost exactly where we figured they’d be. Picked to win the SEC East, they’re in position to do just that. Ranked No. 6 nationally in preseason, they’re No. 5 in the latest BCS standings. Barometer reading: Let’s say Georgia keeps winning and manages to topple No. 1 Alabama in the Dome. Could a 13-1 SEC champ that has beaten both the No. 2 and No. 1 teams (according to the BCS) possibly be left out of the BCS title game?
GEORGIA TECH: Believe it or not, the Jackets won a game. Believe it or not, they could still win the ACC Coastal Division. Believe it or not, they might even play for the ACC title without actually winning the Coastal Division, given that Miami is apparently mulling the option of again recusing itself from postseason play. Barometer reading: From two overtime losses to a 21-point thrashing by Middle Tennessee to the dismissal of defensive coordinator Al Groh to the departure of AD Dan Radakovich to … the Orange Bowl? Seriously?
HAWKS: Lost their opener despite limiting the Rockets’ starting guards to 66 points. Won two nights later at Oklahoma City, which played for the NBA title only five months ago. Barometer reading: Not to say I told you so, but I kind of did. This is going to be one wild team to watch.
BRAVES: Re-upped Brian McCann, Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm. Re-acquired Jordan Schafer. Are said to be interested in Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton, who figure to be the priciest free agents on the board. Barometer reading: It was reported by John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus that Hamilton’s asking price is $25 million a year. (That’s twice what Chipper Jones was making.) Also according to Perrotto, Hamilton wants a seven-year deal. He ain’t gettin’ it here.
GEORGIA STATE: Panthers lost their ninth game of an 11-game season and their sixth of six home games. They also named their locker room after coach Bill Curry, who’s retiring after Saturday’s game at Maine. Barometer reading: Curry’s career record is 93-127-4. Not many coaches who have a career winning percentage of .424 get anything nice named after them. Most such coaches only get called nasty names.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: It starts in earnest this week, and it will, as you may know, end here. Barometer reading: April 6, 2013 — the Final Four tips off in the Georgia Dome.
Further reading: Regarding that question about Georgia and the BCS title game … here’s the answer. (For now, anyway).
By Mark Bradley