Introducing a new series here on The Hall Pass, each Monday I will briefly run through six different takeaways or happenings from the weekend in the sports world.

This weekend, the job is easy and I’m sure that will continue as the SEC joins the college football fun this weekend. And yes of course the Big Ten (spoiler alert) will jump on the ship in a few weeks.

In no particular order, here are six storylines that caught my eye over the weekend.

Atlanta Falcons Meltdown

Being an Atlanta sports fan has to be miserable. I don’t know how people do it. From the Braves to the Hawks to the Falcons it seems more times than not those franchises let their fans down.

If blowing a 28-3 third quarter lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI wasn’t bad enough, the Falcons once again found the most crushing way to lose a football game.

Blowing a 19-point lead this time it was almost as if Falcon Special Teams players forgot as the receiving team they don’t have to let the ball travel 10 yards before attempting a recovery. MULTIPLE players stood by and watched as if it were a bonfire brewing and allowed the Cowboys to recover and eventually kick a Greg Zuerlein 46-yard FG as time expired. IN A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL GAME, MULTIPLE PLAYERS FORGOT BAISC RULES WITH THE GAME HANGING IN THE BALANCE. HOW, SWAY? HOW?

Stephen A Smith let the Falcons have it on First Take Monday morning and I can’t say anything he said was out of pocket.

The Return of Cam Newton

Cam Newton looks odd playing in a New England Patriots Jersey these days. But physically it appears Newton still has a little juice left in the tank. He’s still a threat as a runner and can has playmaking ability with his arm as well.

Newton nearly led the Patriots to a come-from-behind victory at Seattle last night. With the game on the line on the final play of regulation, New England elected to go with the play that had yet to been stopped with a designed Cam Newton run. But the Seahawks were ready and snuffed it out as the clock hit triple zeroes.

Plenty to be optimistic about this season when it comes to quarterback play if Newton can sustain it. He finished the day 30-of-44 passing for 397 yards and one touchdown while rushing 11 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns. Shortly before the games’ final play, Newton had Julian Edelman in the end zone for a touchdown however the veteran couldn’t quite haul it in to cap his solid day of 8 catches for 179 yards.

Big Ten Returns/Releases Schedule

After one of the most chaotic and dysfunctional offseason of all time, the Big Ten made the decision to return to football in the fall after all. Per a CBS report, The Big Ten will open its season on the weekend of Oct. 24 with teams playing eight regular-season games over eight weeks along with a Big Ten Championship Game and six additional consolation games.

Glad to see the powers that be found a way to give this a shot although we all know the motives across the aboard on this one might not be in good faith. It’s going to be tough and still doesn’t guarantee Ohio State would qualify for the playoffs. Banking on 8 games in 8 weeks? Good luck. Just ask Virginia who has already rescheduled a contest against Duke and is struggling to find a date to reschedule the season opener against Virginia Tech. UNC saw a non-league contest with Charlotte taken off the table so the belief that Big Ten will fit all eight of those games with 8 weeks without doubling up at some point seems….a bit unrealistic, no?

ESPN Power Rankings Are A Joke

Speaking of the Big Ten, the updated Power Rankings were released on Monday and the top two teams have yet to take a single snap this season. Hmmm. Interesting that both would leap Clemson who has basically played two scrimmages against Wake Forest and Citadel in which the game was over by halftime.

Not really sure how that works. Yes, I know it’s only week two/three/one/zero depending on who you are and things always work themselves out when and where it matters most.

But it is the principle of it. Alabama and Ohio State are two great programs and will be in the hunt for the playoffs again this season. But to put them ahead of a deserving team that has two games under its belt already doesn’t make much sense to me. What did they do to deserve it? What was the decision based off? I’d love for someone to dumb this one down for me and make it, make sense.

Is Miami really back this time?

Like other historic powerhouses such as Tennessee, Texas and USC, the chatter of Miami finally being “back” has returned. The last time we thought The U was on its way back to being an elite program, they got ran off the field in Charlotte as Clemson cruised to a 38-3 rout of the No. 7 Hurricanes in the 2017 ACC Championship.

Head coach Manny Diaz reacts after a touchdown during the second half of play against the Louisville Cardinals at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, Sept. 19. Miami defeated Louisville 47-34. (Photo: Jamie Rhodes/ACC)

Times are different now….or are they? Manny Diaz is running the show now and with the transfer of former Houston QB D’Eriq King, the Canes are ready to make a push in the ACC and beyond this season. Or at least that’s what they’d have you believe. After a suspect performance in week one against UAB, Miami rolled past an improving Louisville squad, 47-34, Saturday.

Miami hosts Florida State Saturday at 7:30. The Seminoles will be without head coach Mike Norvell who is out due to a positive Covid-19 test. The Noles will be led by Deputy head coach Chris Thomsen in the interim until Norvell is able to return. So far, Thomsen said practices and meetings have been “as close to normal as possible” per a ESPN report.

While I wouldn’t put much on a Miami win this Saturday because FSU is just that terrible as a team, perhaps it is time to at least start paying attention to the Canes if they move to 3-0 this weekend. Especially if they do so in convincing fashion.

Denver/Los Angeles Western Conference Final Game 2

I don’t watch much NBA and usually don’t really begin to follow it closely until the conference finals. Well, here we are and here I am! I missed most of the game Sunday night but tuned in early in the fourth quarter and my goodness, what a game.

Jamal Murray (Photo: MileHigh Sports

I’m in a group text with two other good friends from high school and I texted them when the score was 100-92 thinking the Lakers were well on their to a 2-0 lead in the finals. But Denver had other plans. After taking a temporary lead at 103-102 on a Nikola Jokic jumper with 20.8 second left, the Nuggets had the Lakers on the ropes.

LA would refuse to be denied. Alex Caruso’s three pointer was off the mark but corralled by Danny Green who had his shot blocked and out of play by Jamal Murray. That was probably the kiss of death for the Nuggets. It left Anthony Davis ample time for the walk-off three pointer at the buzzer and 105-103 triumph. Davis led all scorers with 31 points and nine rebounds. Jokic paced Denver with 30 points and 6 rebounds while Murray pitched in 25 points and six boards.