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OCTOBER 2, 2006
VOLUME 105, NO. 13

FEATURES

PRO FOOTBALL
48 Breakthrough
In the NFL's best new rivalry the Bengals beat Pittsburgh to take charge of the league's toughest division
by Tim Layden

GOLF
54 Same Old Scene
In what is an all-too-familiar sight, a deep European team routed the U.S. at the Ryder Cup
by Alan Shipnuck

BASEBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW
58 Collision Course
Is a Subway Series inevitable? Maybe, but this is October, when power doesn't always prevail
by Tom Verducci

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
62 Happy Feet
At West Virginia, Steve Slaton has developed into one of the most feared—and fastest—runners
by Phil Taylor

NHL PREVIEW 2006--07

66 Will You Tune In to These Two?
The spruced-up NHL hopes Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby will raise the league's profile in the U.S.
by Michael Farber

• The latest must-see rookie
by E.M. Swift

75 The Best Team $44 Million Can Buy
SI plays general manager—and comes in under the salary cap

81 Scouting Reports
Anaheim beats Buffalo for the Cup

• PLAYERS ON THE SPOT

• MVPs BY DIVISION

Departments

10 Leading Off

18 Letters

21 Air and Space
Why run 52 marathons in 52 weeks? If you work in an office, you know why
by Steve Rushin

22 Scorecard

It's time to embrace global parity
Sportswriters fight for free speech
The healing begins at Duquesne

34 Faces in the Crowd

39 Players

112 Life of Reilly
Reinforcements for the U.S. team, winner-take-all payoffs and other Ryder Cup remedies
by Rick Reilly

Inside...

100 College Football
A huge turnaround at Va. Tech
Husky Stadium comes to life

106 The NFL
The Bears' Mr. Reliable
Pass-protection woes in Miami

Cover

PHOTOGRAPH BY AL TIELEMANS

INSET PHOTO: David E. Klutho

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>>BASEBALL

The final NL playoff spot could be decided on the final day, with Nomar Garciaparra (right) and the Dodgers hoping to unseat the Padres for the NL West title or edge the Phillies for the wild card. Follow the race for the postseason at SI.com/baseball, then read John Donovan's preview of the first round and SI.com's experts' predictions of who will win the Series.

>> COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Troy Smith (left) didn't start in Ohio State's last game at Iowa, a 33--7 Buckeyes loss in 2004. But he took over at quarterback the next game and has since gone 17--2 as a starter heading into Saturday's return trip to Iowa City. Get a preview of the Big Ten showdown between No. 1 Ohio State and the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes, and read Gene Menez's Heisman Watch at SI.com/collegefootball.

>> NFL

In one of two games this weekend between undefeated teams, Rex Grossman (right) and the Bears welcome the Seahawks to Chicago. Find out who Peter King thinks will come out on top in his Weekend Pickoff at SI.com/nfl, and get Don Bank's wrap-up of Week 4 in his Sunday Snap Judgments.

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PHOTO

SIMON BRUTY (GARCIA)

54 LOVE OF THE IRISH

After earning four points in five Ryder Cup matches for Europe, Sergio García milked the applause in Straffan on Sunday.

PHOTO

MICHAEL O'NEILL (OVECHKIN AND CROSBY)

PHOTO

JIMMY DEFLIPPO/US PRESSWIRE (SIMMS)

106 BODY BLOW

Hits like the one delivered by the Panthers' Julius Peppers on Sunday sent Chris Simms to the hospital with a ruptured spleen and forced the Bucs to turn to a rookie quarterback.

PHOTO

DAMIAN STROHMEYER (SMITH)

PHOTO

ROBERT BECK (GARCIAPARRA)

PHOTO

BILL FRAKES (GROSSMAN)