Week Five SEC Picks: Time to Bully the Dogs

There are only six games, on the slate, involving teams from the Southeastern Conference in Week Five. The marquee game, again, finds our Auburn Tigers as a participant. The Tigers take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Jordan-Hare Stadium, on Pat Dye Field, at 7 PM Eastern time and will be televised on ESPN (No U, no 2, etc). We will make our pick on that game as the final one of the column, per usual.

Your fearless forecaster got seven out of nine in Week Four. Our season total now stands at 38-8. That translates to a winning percentage of .826. Hold your applause until the completion of this blog, please!

One more quick piece of housekeeping before we delve into the predictions. Some of you have noticed that I have been using some “Leonardisms” in my posts this season. For those of you who are in the dark on the word I coined, “Leonardisms”, it is taken from the enormously popular Leonard’s Losers syndicated radio program from many years ago. I, for one, couldn’t wait to listen the the show every Friday afternoon before Saturday’s big games. I just wanted to pay tribute to Leonard by using a little bit of his terminology in sharing my predictions with you.

Speaking of predictions, let us proceed!

Alabama vs. Ole Miss

Nick Saban’s Pachyderms (Leonardism!) host Matt Luke’s Rebels/Black Bears/Land Sharks as the CBS feature game of the week. This is another day game, much to the chagrin of the powers that be, in T-Town. The visitors lost a real heartbreaker to Cal, on a controversial play, at the end of the game last week in Oxford. There won’t be any controversy as to who wins this one. The home team will continue to maul and mangle much inferior competition once again. Alabama 48, Ole Miss 14.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

The Aggies might still be smarting from the whippin’ perpetrated on them by the Auburn Tigers last Saturday. This game, to be played at Jerry World in Arlington, TX, might find Jimbo’s troops fishing for points early on, but Chad Morris’s Piggies (San Jose State!? Really!?) will ultimately be gigged by the crew from College Station. Texas A&M 38, Arkansas 17.

Florida vs. Towson????

Who dat???? Well, it’s the mighty Towson (Maryland) Tigers of the Colonial Athletic Association, which boasts perennial powers such as Rhode Island, Bill & Mary, New Hampshire and the vaunted Delaware Blue Hens! And Dan Mullen’s Water Lizards are not favored (-36.5) by as much as Alabama (-37.5) is over an SEC opponent! Say what? I’ll say what. The most interesting aspect of this mismatch will be if Towson can score and the Gators keep everyone healthy for the huge game with Auburn next Satday. Florida 45, Towson 0.

Kentucky vs. South Carolina

Both squads have struggled, as of late, and somebody has to lose. The game is in Columbia. The Cocks are a three point favorite. They “sport” a 1-3 record. Is Will Muschamp’s fanny heating up? It will be if he loses to the Fightin’ Felines,  who are 2-2 on the season, and South Carolina goes to 1-4. The Cats rebound while the Roosters continue to reel. A tight one, in OT. Kentucky 30, South Carolina 27.

Vanderbilt vs. NIU

The Huskies of Northern Illinois will mush their way down into Nashville Saturday for what is expected to be quite a close clash. Derrick Mason’s Commodores hope to get into the winning column for the first time in 2019. The visitors have been there only once. There really is not much of a home field advantage in Music City but it will be enough to help Vandy experience victory for the first time this season. Vanderbilt 28, NIU 24.  

And we conclude with the all important ESPN feature game of the week!

Auburn vs. Mississippi State

The Bullies feel that they should be undefeated just like the 4-0 hosts of East Alabama. Its lone loss was a heartbreaking seven point defeat to another group of Felines from Manhattan, KS. The Wildcats of Kansas State. The Tigers are 10.5 point favorites and ranked seventh in the country, but the Pups will not be intimidated. They always play a very physical style of football and this week will not be an exception.

State lost a lot of good ball players off its defense, as well as quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who rushed for the majority of his teams 300 plus yards in a beatdown of Auburn at Starkville last season. Auburn’s wide receivers are getting healthy, the tight end is being utilized, and the running backs are asserting themselves. The O line looks better each week. The D? Lights out! From the front seven through the secondary. They are flat nasty. And Gus is coaching like never before. This all adds up to a team that should improve a little from week to week.

State has actually won three of the last five with Auburn and that will not do. The Tigers have also blown them out two of the last three. I like Auburn somewhere between the minus 10.5 and a blowout. Auburn 34, Miss State 16.

Georgia, LSU, Missouri, and Tennessee have the week off.

There you have it, folks. Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor!

 

Week Four SEC Picks: The Dawgs and the Dame; Aggies and Auburn, and MORE!

Yessiree bobby! There will be two games, involving SEC teams, in which both teams are ranked. Number three Georgia will host number seven Notre Dame and number eight Auburn travels to College Station to battle Texas A&M. I will get to those two picks later on. Let me update you on how proceedings have gone through three weeks of the 2019 college football season. Last week I correctly assessed nine games while whiffing on two, Colorado State-Arkansas and Mississippi State-Kansas State. My season record goes to 31-6, for an .837 winning percentage. Good enough!

Onward!

Alabama vs. Southern Miss

Let’s get the Bama weekly scrimmage behind us. The Golden Eagles downed my alma mater, Troy, last week. That’s too bad. What will be too bad this week is the whipping the hometown Tide will will administer to the unlucky guests from Hattiesburg, MS. Alabama (-38.5) 49, Southern Miss 17.

Arkansas vs. San Jose State

The Piggies have been truffling up the points thus far in 2019. 55 of ’em last week in that pasting of the boys from Fort Collins, CO. Chad Morris’s Hawgs will smoke the Spartans bee-hinds. Arkansas 52, San Jose (I know the way) State 20.

Florida vs. Tennessee

The Water Lizards are back in The Swamp in what one would think will be a serious chomping of the Vowels. I think it could get more interesting than most folks believe. The 14 point underdogs will make it fun for a bit, but Dapper Dan Mullen’s crew will find a way. Florida 34, Tennessee 23. 

Mississippi State vs. Kentucky

Mark Stoops’ Fightin’ Felines have to be smarting after another brutal loss to the aforementioned Gators. I had it 28-21 and the final tally was 29-21. Purty close! Now, the K State Wildcats taking a “W” back to Manhattan from Starkville was a surprise, at least in this part of the woods. One team is about to lose 2 in-a-row. I’m thinking it will be the visitors. In another barnburner. Mississippi State 27, Kentucky 24.

LSU vs. Vanderbilt

Have y’all been watching the 150 Year Anniversary of the SEC special on the telly? (No, I’m not coming to you from ‘across the pond, I just like the word Telly). Speaking of Kojak, I sure could use a Tootsie Roll Pop. I handed them out after the Children’s Sermon in church last week and the little boogers took them all. Oh! Football! 150 years and all that! On that show we have learned a great many things, one of which is that Vanderbilt used to be the standard bearer in SEC football. I think that was during my daddy’s childhood. Great town for music and food, but a terrible town for football now. LSU (-24) 38, Vanderbilt 7.

South Carolina vs. Missouri

In Columbia. Oops! You need mo info. Columbia, MISSOURI! Muschamp’s Roosters exposed some vulnerabilities in the number two team in country last week in Columbia, SOUTH CAROLINA. (Follow the bouncing ball, boys and girls). Can they win a big SEC East road game with their newly found true freshman quarterback, Ryan Hilinski? Great, touching storyline there involving Hilinski and his brother. It seems to me Barry Odom’s troops have found their sea legs. Missouri 35, South Carolina 24.

Ole Miss vs. Cal

Bet the overwhelming majority of y’all didn’t know I spent a good deal of time on the Berkeley campus in ’86-’87 as a campus minister/chaplain. Yep! Bet even fewer didn’t know I spent time, out there, at San Quentin prison. No no! Not as an inmate, but recruiting people to come visit inmates at the prison. M-2, Match two, a caring community member with a forgotten inmate. Charlie Manson was housed there at the time, and he applied for participation in the program, but he was on 23 hour lockdown and not a part of the mainline population, thus, he was not eligible to participate in M-2. I really enjoyed the job and chatting with the inmates. Some with tales of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Ok ok, football. The Golden Bears make the LONG trek to Oxford. Tailgating at the Cal-Stanford game is quite different from that in The Grove. More on that some other time. The Black Bears are a shade darker than their counterparts and a tad of a favorite in this game. I’ll take it. Ole Miss 28, Cal 27. 

And NOW! Back to those clashes which feature two ranked teams!

First, the game in Athens.

Georgia vs. Notre Dame

I also spent three years as a campus minister/chaplain at The State University of New York-Albany. That was just prior to the time I did (wink) in California. Point being, there were a boatload of Catholics students there at SUNY. Not many had never seen a Baptist, much less had the chance to interact with one, and, especially, one from the Deep South. I told them that Baptists outnumbered Catholics in the South about like Catholics outnumbered Baptists in the North and that you couldn’t sling a dead cat without hitting a Baptist in the South or a Catholic in the North. My priest friends up there still use that illustration to this day. One of my colleagues, an Episcopalian priest,  was greatly amused when we had to leave the home we were renting and into an apartment in Presidential Estates, near the campus. Our address became 7 Grant Court, Guilderland, NY. Yes, THAT Grant! The one-time chief exec. He said it could only be more hilarious if we had been on Sherman Street! It was a great time. Never had three better years in our lives! Football! Football! Catholics. Bulldoggies. I love Pope Francis but the Irish don’t stand a chance Between the Hedges. Georgia 34, Notre Dame 17.

And…

Auburn vs. Texas A&M

Our favorite regular season road trip, ever, was the 2013 game at Aggieland in 2013. Back when Johnny Football was king. I’m sure you remember that HUGE game. Two highly ranked teams doing battle at Kyle Field. Dee Ford sacks Manziel. Nick Marshall, Tre Mason, etc. Auburn’s coming out party on the way to a shot at the Natty, and we won’t go there. The situation is not dissimilar in 2019. Other than we won’t be there to experience that wonderful hospitality and the victory steak in Houston. I really like how Auburn is progressing. Kent State provided the much needed format to hone/polish our game. If Auburn can attack the perimeter successfully, and open up the zone read and the inside power game it will be huge. The main focus in this one, IMHO, is Auburn’s O line. They absolutely must keep pulling those guards and run the ball well. That will open it up for Bo Nix, who went 12 for 16 (two drops, two misses) against the Golden Flashes. The D will do its job and keep it close, and somewhat low scoring, giving the Tigers a chance to win in the fourth quarter. And win they will! Auburn 23, Texas A&M 20.

Alright people! Hitch up! Take care out there and be SURE to love thy neighbor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week Three SEC Football Picks

Last week I was dang near perfect. The lone miss was my upset pick of Vandy over IMG_3292.jpgPurdue. That’s ok. You gotta pick upsets. My season total now stands at 22-4. That computes to an .846 percentage. I’ll take it and let’s rock! No time to tarry as Week Three is up-on us! But, first of all, this… AT&T/Direct TV/Uverse is making noise about not carrying all the ESPN channels tomorrow, that includes the SEC Network, unless some agreement isn’t met with Disney or whoever. I can tell you one thing, if some Mouse wants to attempt to come between Southerners and their football, GOOD LUCK! You will have stepped in it then, Mickey! Tread there at your own peril!

Alright! FOOTBALL!

Arkansas vs. Colorado State

This rumble presents somewhat of a dilemma. Both teams are really bad! The Hawgs are a 9.5 point favorite. It’s a home game. Can the Rams actually be that inept? A good-sized road dog to the worst team in the SEC? I don’t think so. Not only do they cover, they win. Colorado State 27, Arkansas 23.

Florida vs. Kentucky

At Kroger field in Lexington. The Swamp Lizards will find out what they are made of this weekend. The Wildcats will push them to the limit, but Mullen, Franks, and company will find a path to escape the upset. Florida 28, Kentucky 21.

Georgia vs. Arkansas State

Another wax job for the Pups. Blah blah, yak yak, the Red Wolves won’t get cut no slack. Georgia 45, Arkansas State 10.

LSU vs. Northwestern State

I looked it up. The visiting Demons hail from Natchitoches, LA and they are an FCS squad. And these poor boys have to play in Tiger Stadium at night. On top of that, they are a 51 point underdog. They won’t cover. YayHeee! The Red Stick Felines in a Mass-a-creeee. LSU 66, Demons 0.

Mississippi State vs. Kansas State

The Bullies traveled out to The Little Apple (Manhattan, KS) in 2018 and came away victors. It will be more of the same in 2019. The Wildcats are dangerous, to be sure, but Joe Moorhead will have his troops ready and awaitin’! Mississippi State 31, Kansas State 23

Missouri vs. Southeast Missouri State

The Red Hawks may not be in any condition to fly back to Cape Girardeau after they are mangled by the hometown Tigers. Notable alumni of the visiting school include Rush Limbaugh, Cedric the Entertainer, and Roy Thomas, comic book writer and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. The things one learns here, huh? Missouri 48, SEMO 17.

Ole Miss vs. Southeastern Louisiana

I’m truly having to brush up on my geography as I languish through this litany of laughers. That’s enough! Bring on SEC league play! Ok, the guests are the Lions, they make their den in Hammond, LA and play their games in Strawberry Stadium. “Let me take you down cause I’m going to…” Come on! Sing along! Anyway, where’s Daniel when you need him? Probably out frolicking around with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. A long way from Oxford, I hope, for this one  could get ugly. Ole Miss 35, SELA 6

Tennessee vs. Chattanooga

I just don’t see any way the Vols can muck this one up. Do you think? The Rocky Toppers are a 28 point favorite, but they were lined as -25 over Georgia State. And you know what occurred in Neyland Stadium back on September 1, don’t you? The old upset tick bit Smoky square on his fanny. Not this time. Tennessee will finally experience the sweet taste of victory! Tennessee 31, Chattanooga 16

Texas A&M vs. Lamar

Lamar Young was our school bus driver back when I was but a wee lad at Camden Elementary School in LA. That’s all I got. Lamar (not Mr. Young) is in the same state as the Aggies. That is where the similarities end. What a god awful set of matchups for Saturday. I want to finish this column and go get a beverage to wash the taste out of my mouth. Texas A&M 56, Lamar 3.

Vanderbilt Open

No, not a golf tournament. The Commodores will be off and licking its wounds Satday.

Home staters!

Alabama vs. South Carolina

The Mighty Tidey doesn’t want to play at noon, or during the day, or whatever. Don’t cry for them, Argentina. Columbia, SC will be the site of the Crimpsun Tide’s next victim. Cocks, Gamecocks that is. Will Muschamp’s corps will be clobbered by Saban’s soldiers. Will Bama cover the minus 25.5? Hmmmmm… Alabama 38, USC East 13.

Aaaaaaand!

Auburn vs. Kent State

The Golden Flashes will make its way to the Loveliest Village of the Plains Saturday evening as a 36 point underdog to Gus Malzahn’s Tigers. Can Auburn score 36? Will the O line get some push and open holes for Boobee and others? Please! Others! Like Cam Martin, Shaun Shivers, Malik Miller, and DJ Williams (Seth Williams will not play). Will Hastings will see action in spite of that brutal, vicious low-belly hit he took last week. Eli Stove is ok, too, we hear. Give Bo some protection and dial him up a few zone reads so he can use his fleet feet. Yes, he is faster than Gatewood. And speaking of Joey, let’s see some more of him. Boom ’em high Arryn, and cover ’em special teams. One more tune up before the journey to College Station and another night in Tejas! Auburn 42, Kent State 3.

That’s a wrap, folks! Peace, love, and football! Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week Two SEC Football Picks

I was 9-3 in Week One Picks last week. That’s 75% but not great for what is, typically, a 85% to 90% week, as there are always more than a few mismatches on opening weekend. Tennessee-Georgia State (that powerhouse from downtown Atlanta which has only been playing football for about 10 years) was, on paper, was one of those games. The mighty Panthers threw a monkey wrench into those predictions and defeated the 25 point favorite Volunteers. Poor old Rocky Top. Wow! Also South Carolina got popped by North Carolina, but that was really no big surprise. I did pick Ole Miss as the only SEC loss and, yes, they were toppled buy the favored Memphis Tigers.

So much for the past. Let us press on into Week Two of Southeastern Conference football!

Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

The wounded Rebels (-6) are back in Oxford and will be “Grove-in’ on a sunny afternoon.” The home team showed some improvement on defense, as compared to the 2018 edition of Land Sharks. Arkansas did win last Saturday, but it was an escape over FCS opponent Portland State, 20-13. From here, it appears Matt Luke’s boys are primed to garner its first win of the 2019 season while roasting some piggies in the process. Ole Miss 20, Arkansas 13.

Florida vs. UT Martin

I spent one night in Martin, TN back in the 90’s. I stayed at an Econo Lodge and ate at the Huddle House. It was slim pickins then and it will be more of the same for the visiting Skyhawks down in The Swamp on Saturday. The Gators are a 44.5 favorite, by the way. Whether or nor they cover will be the biggest mystery involved in this mismatch. Florida 48, UT Martin 6

Georgia vs. Murray State

The mismatches continue as Kirby Smart’s pups host the Racers of Murray, KY (Yes, I spent one night there, as well), and the most exciting event to take place, for all the fans, will be the naming of the field which resides Between the Hedges. Vince Dooley is the honoree, and I would like to congratulate the former head coach, athletic director, and Auburn quarterback! As for the game… what “game”? The slaughter will play to the tune of something like… Georgia 56, Murray State 3.

Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan

Surprise! This one is not considered to be a mismatch. Mark Stoops and his Fightin’ Felines are only a 15.5 favorite over the Visiting Eagles. The Cats disposed of another MAC team last weekend, Toledo. (I keep wanting to refer to them as the Mud Hens. $1 to Maxwell Q. Klinger of M*A*S*H fame). That contest was a bit of a scrap. This one could be, yet I do expect the home team to prevail. Kentucky 30, Eastern Michigan 14.

Mississippi State vs. Southern Miss

Another set of Eagles are set to fly up against an SEC team Saturday. This group hails form inside the Magnolia State in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles could prove as sticky as syrup to the the Bulldoggies. Southern Miss will give State all it can handle, but the Starkville crew will win as predicted. Mississippi State 31, Southern Miss 17.

Missouri vs. West Virginia

Dana Holgorsen has departed as head coach of the Mountaineers and now prowls the sideline of the Houston Cougars. Troy’s Neal Brown, losers to James Madison in Week One, now leads the visiting squad which will make the jaunt to Columbia, MO. I think the Tigers (-13.5) will show us last week’s surprising upset, at the hands of the the Wyoming Cowboys, was an aberration. If not, it’s going to be a very long year for Barry Odom’s gang. Missouri 38, West Virginia 20.

South Carolina vs. Charleston Southern

I have spent time in both Charleston and Columbia and fared much much better than in Martin, TN and Murray, KY. Charleston is a beautiful place with great food, drink, and sights to see, but its football team is also a 40.5 underdog to the wounded Cocks of Carolina. Will Muschamp will have the hosts ready to rebound after the disheartening loss to the Tar Heels. South Carolina 42, Charleston Southern 10.

Tennessee vs. BYU

What does one have to say about the Vols and their total embarrassment at the hands of Georgia State? Questions abound, like WTF? and WTH? and Really? SMH. Rocky was not just topped, but also smothered, covered, and chunked. SMH again. The Cougars bring a better team to Knoxville than the one that bested Jeremy Pruitt’s timid Tennessee (-4) on August 31. More questions. Can the Ole Smokies turn it around? Will they get more effort this week? No and yes. In a smaller upset… BYU 24, Tennessee 23. 

Vanderbilt vs. Purdue

The Commodores will drop anchor in West Lafayette, IN (never stayed there) Saturday for what should be a boiler in the making. Purdue is a seven point favorite, but I expect Derrick Mason’s Music City boys to pick apart the hometown hosts and come home with its first victory of the 2019 season. Vanderbilt 23, Purdue 21.

And now on to the Monster Games of the Week.

Texas A&M vs. Clemson

Hoo Hoooo, MEERCY! (A call I remember from an Ole Miss announcer back in the 60’s). The biggest game of the week and one the very few regular season’s true challenges, in 2019, for Auburn With a Lake. The defending National Champions (-16.5) will have its hands full, for awhile, with Jimbo Fisher’s aggregation from Aggieland. In the end, the Tigers will be too much for the College Station crowd, and will come out on top after it all is said and done. Clemson 34, Texas A&M 20.

LSU vs. Texas

I have also stayed over a handful of times in Baton Rouge and spent a few weeks in Austin. I absolutely love these two lovely college towns! The eyes of Texas will be glaring down on the Bayou Bengals (the pregame singing of that Texas tune is one of college football’s great traditions as is Mike’s entry into Tiger Stadium) Satday night and this one should be a humdinger indeed. When the clock ticks down to zero, I predict visiting Louisiana State (-6.5) will squeak by the Longhorns. LeCroy’s Loser… Texas! LSU 27, Texas 24.

And now we shall conclude with my home state’s games of Week Two.

Alabama (not much versus at all) New Mexico State

Another traveling team of Aggies, these from Las Cruces, NM, will make its way eastward. New Mexico is truly the Land of Enchantment. I have wonderful friends and family out there and I long for the day we can return and enjoy more time to spend in that wondrous state. The New Mexico State team will have a LONG trip back home after it is completely and totally annihilated. The Red Elephants have a 0.1% chance to lose. Just where is that minuscule of hope supposed to come from? From this angle, there is a zero percent chance of Alabama (-55.5) losing. Green chiles. Red chiles. No matter. The Tide will ROLL and Doug Martin’s (no relation to UT Martin) gents will be the worse for wear at the hands of Nick Saban’s not so gentle men. Alabama 63, New Mexico State 0.

Auburn vs. Tulane

The team closest to my heart returned home triumphant from deep in the heart of Texas! It was a glorious time with good friends and the Auburn Family out in the Lone Star State! And a quick run through Cowtown with my bride was so sweet and emotional, as we spent the first three years of our marriage there. Our son, Auburn Luke, was born there. And a big pieces of our hearts will always remain Ft. Worth. Thank you, Lord, for the time spent there back in ’77-’80 and our two nights, last weekend, near Arlington!

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. That happens when you age and memories become ever so much more precious. I digress.

Football!

The first thing I would like to say about Saturday night’s game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, is do not overlook the Green Wave! Yes, Auburn is a 17 point favorite, but Tulane is a very well-coached football team. Willie Fritz has them rolling as they have won six of its last seven games dating back to the 2018 season. The Greenies know it will be an uphill battle, but I assure you that they won’t back down ($1 to Tom Petty). The Wave rushed for 350 yards in a 42-14 victory, over Florida International, in a game in which it was favored by only three. And quarterback Justin (two Justin QB’s in a row) McMillan, an LSU transfer and a dang good one, has been the field general in that 6-1 run. Its beginning was his first start.

You are all well-versed on what transpired at Jerry World last Saturday night. Bo Nix was successful in his debut and he should only continue to improve. But, there will still be lapses with the true freshman signal caller. Also, the Tigers O line looked far too much like the O line of 2018. And what happened in the kicking game? Siposs can boom ’em, but someone has got to learn to cover punts! The same goes for kickoff coverage.

And Gus doesn’t need to get cute when you have the ball first and goal from the three!

Here’s hoping the Tigers will make great strides from game one to game two, as is typical in college football. Get that running back rotation fluid and not put too much on Boobee. Get some separation from the wide receivers and hope Anthony Schwartz doesn’t have to continue as a decoy for much longer.

I was very impressed with the new set of linebackers, particularly KJ Britt and Owen Pappoe. Studs, the both of them. The D line and D backs are both very good groups, as well, and the overall D should be one of the best, if not THE best, in the country as the season progresses.

I think the potential for a special season still remains a strong possibility but progress has to continue occur, this week with Tulane and next week with Kent State. This is a perfect opportunity to fine tune things for the trip to College Station on September 21.

The game shouldn’t be a runaway, but I foresee the Tigers getting to where they should be and taking care of business on Pay Dye Field Saturday night. Auburn 38, Tulane 14.

So, until next time, take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor!