36 | COLLEGEFOOTBALL

SEC Reigns

Impressive wins byNo. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama, and banner games across the board, proved onceagain that this conference stands above the rest

By John EdBradley

46 | BASEBALL

Playoff Central

Divisional-roundsweeps by the Dodgers and the Angels have made talk of a possible FreewaySeries seem like more than just California Dreamin'

By Tom Verducci

52 | SOCCER

U.S. Advances

Proving itself in aLatin American cauldron, the men's team booked its trip to the 2010 World Cupwith a thrilling win over Honduras. Now the hard work begins

By Grant Wahl

56 | PROFOOTBALL

Journeyman

He has been oneight teams in 17 years and he'll never get to Canton, but 39-year-old Texansdefensive lineman Jeff Zgonina and players like him are the soul of thegame

By Tim Layden

Departments

4 Leading Off

12 Letters

14 Scorecard

• The NFL's grumpyyoung coaches

22 Just My Type

Kobe'soff-season

by Dan Patrick

24 Faces in theCrowd

26 Inside ...

• The NFL

The Titans'tumble

• NASCAR

A confusingmerger

• CollegeFootball

Va. Tech'stailback

• The WNBA

Phoenix wins itall

66 The Vault

• Fran Tarkenton'sMVP season

70 Point After

The unluckiest fanin America

by Phil Taylor

Mercury playerscelebrate their WNBA championship (page 34).

ON THE COVER

Photograph by BobRosato

Please Recycle ThisMagazine Remove Inserts or Samples Before Recycling

PHOTOCHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES (MERCURY PLAYERS) FOUR PHOTOS

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