Five things we learned this weekend: Sept. 28-30

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AP Photo/Tom Lynn
Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy talks to referee Jeff Triplette about a review call during the second half of Sunday’s game in Green Bay, Wis.

Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve:

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1. You gotta understand: Zebra migrations work differently in North America. The weakest of the herd is allowed to roam NFL stadium sites for the first three weeks of a designed season (including exhibition viewings). But as soon as one of them missteps and goes over a cliff on national TV, the entire population is called into question. Some, depending on local Fish and Game regulations, are returned to their nearest Foot Locker store. Eventually, they all return to their natural habitat – Lingerie Football games, the UFL, possibly Pop Warner rules interpretation committees. At that point, the elders are begged to come back to graze on specially designated artificial turf, with added benefits and security that their legacy will be fully protected with or without WWE certification. Yes, the national nightmare has ended, and no longer is the NFL worth watching just so see how something will go rule-wrong at a critical juncture. And that’s a shame. Green Bay fans were already sniping at the regular refs when they returned to the tundra on Sunday, but that’s to be expected. They had enough of the subs. In the end, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, viewed as the nation’s most anti-union state boss by labor activists, even got his wish after his Green Bay Packers were hosed on a “Monday Night Football” game – the unionized officials were officially put back on the job. And if you decide to dress as a replacement referee during Halloween, don’t be surprised if someone rules a beer thrown to you isn’t yours unless you have full possession.

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2. NBC’s Peter King proclaimed that by 2016, the three leading candidates to be playing in AEG’s new 75,000-seat Farmers Field in downtown L.A. are the Chargers, Raiders and Rams. Seems to really be going out there on a limb, eh? Oh, and don’t rule out the Bills or Jaguars, added Mike Florio. Since the L.A. City Council unanimously approved the stadium to go ahead, all kinds of speculation comes into play now. And Tim Leiweke gets to sit back, knowing he has a five-year deal with whomever buys up AEG’s assets, and he’ll be gloating about bringing the NFL back to the No. 2 TV market. Councilwoman (and potential new mayor) Jan Perry proclaimed: “We’re gonna have our own football team” after the 12-0 vote. Go ahead, guess who it’ll be.

3. There are “magic numbers” and then there are “Magic numbers” that the Dodgers can focus on for the last three games of the regular season. Any sniff of a continuation past Oct. 3 means a combination of two more St. Louis wins and/or Dodgers losses. The Dodgers are failing to cooperate in just going away quietly by scoring seven or more runs four times in their last five wins. If they don’t go post-season, Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson knows what numbers matter most: Attendance will finish around 3.3 million, fifth best in all of baseball and about 300,000 more than the Angels, a huge jump from a year ago.

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AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Tiger Woods scratches his head as he walks off the course after the Ryder Cup tournament Sunday at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.

4. It’s not so much that the U.S. dirty dozen choked away the four-point Ryder Cup advantage going into the final day against 12 angry Euros. Maybe it was more a meltdown. A monumental meltdown at Medinah. A colossal collapse in Chicago. A 14 -13 loss that not even Tiger Woods could rescue them from down the stretch. We’re not sure which alliterative adjectives adhere best here. “The U.S. played so poorly on (the) 17 and 18 (holes during the event,” said NBC’s Johnny Miller. “They earned the loss.” That’s one way of sizing it up. “I think we have seen probably the two greatest days in a row in the history of the Ryder Cup (but) it’s the most confusing feeling,” said golf analyst David Feherty on Golf Channel. “Like being handed a bottle of French fries. ‘What the hell just happened?’ You know, one of those moments.” Yup, we just saw it.

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5. This Heisman thing just might be West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith’s to lose. For those who need some razzle dazzle to determine their ballot, take the Mountaineers’ 70-63 Big 12 opening victory over Baylor, when he completed 45 of 51 passing for 656 yards, 8 TDs and no picks. That’s video game stuff. The games on their non-Big East schedule will only get Smith more exposure – starting with trying to mess with Texas this Saturday. Keep in mind, too, that he still doesn’t have an interception this season.

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