Show Me The Way To Go Home

I’m tired and I wanna go to bed… Lawd. REALLY weary of the AU disfunction. Thus, SEC Weekly picks, as you have come to know and love it, is being put to rest. For the remainder of 2022 at least. And we are about to travel. Macon this weekend for the GABBAfest (Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association shindig). Our first in 15 years and that was due to football. New England road trip beginning on 10/2. And goodness knows what else as football proceeds toward the Georgia-Bama matchups in December and January. Sure does look like UGA from this angle. Yes, my interest is headed downward with a bullet.

I’ll be watching when the Auburn-Mizzou game game starts at Noon ET Saturday. But I will not put myself through similar torture as was the case until midway through the third quarter last week. Shades of 2012. Nope!

Now, let us run through some quick picks. Last week I was 9-3. And didn’t hit my locks as I did in weeks one through three. Total on the season stands at 33-6. That’s 85%!

Kent State at Georgia (-45). Dawgs 52, Kent State 0

Missouri at Auburn (-7). Auburn 27, Missouri 20

Bowling Green at Mississippi State (-30). State 42, Bowling Green 13

Florida at Tennessee (-10.5). Tennessee 35, Gators 24

Tulsa at Ole Miss (-21.5). Rebs 45, Tulsa 17

Northern Illinois at Kentucky (-26.5). Cats 38, Huskies 14

Arkansas at Texas A&M (-2). Hawgs 23, Aggies 21

Vanderbilt at Alabama (-40.5). Bama 49, Dores 3

New Mexico at LSU (-31.5). LSU 41, Lobos 7

Charlotte at South Carolina (-22.5). Cocks 40, Hush Hush Sweet 16

There you have it! Y’all have a great weekend! You can bet we will!

“Ain’t but one way out baby, Lord I just can’t go out the door, Ain’t but one way out baby, and Lord I just can’t go out the door. ‘Cause there’s a man down there, might be your man I don’t know…”

Peace out!

Photo credit Pexels Free Photos

SEC Football: Week Three

10-2 was my record in Week Two and the 2022 season total now stands at 24-3. That’s 89%. Oh I wish that this would be the percentage on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. Once the SEC begins to go head to head every week things get a wee bit more dicey. One more quick note. My lock last week, even though not designated so, was App State and the points. Thank you Mountaineers and thank you Jimbo! Why dally around? Let the prognostications begin!

Georgia (-24.5) at South Carolina

The new number one team in the country waltzes into Columbia after a workmanlike win over Samford. Bulldogs over Bull pups as it were. Mayo Man Beamer is cock-a-doodle doing along pretty darn well as head ball coach at South Carolina. Buster Brown Smart ain’t doing much dumb in Athens either. The Dawgs look ferocious at this early juncture, Anyone can be had. That’s not gonna happen Satday at noon (ET) though. Georgia 38, USC East 17.

Youngstown State at Kentucky (-25.5)

Ding ding ding! Taco time! (No winners last week). Name the visiting squads mascot. Without looking, Googling, etc., of course. Very nice win down in the Swamp last week, brother Stoops! Yo Cats were my second choice as the lock last weekend. Plus 4.5. Boom! Knock em out John! Errr… Mark! Youngstown is 2-0 and playing good ball. The Bourbon and Bluegrass Boys are playing sho nuff good. Another nooner here. Ranked in the Top Ten… Kentucky 35, Youngstown State 13

Abilene Christian at Missouri (-33)

Abilene might not feel so Christian after what looks to be a thrashing coming its way in another 12 PM kickoff. Remember ET, the Wildcats also might want to phone home, collect, at around 3:30 PM. Kansas State beat the snot out of Eli’s Kitties in its last game. The Columbia, Mo betters will rebound with a vic’try. “Abilene, Abilene, prettiest town that I’ve ever seen. Women there don’t treat you mean…” Really? do they elsewhere? Missouri 40, Abilene Christian 17.

Ole Miss (-16.5) at Georgia Tech

“Oh if I had a daughter sir I’d dress her in white and gold, and take her to the campus sir to cheer the brave and bold…” What a great fight song! “Like all other jolly good fellows I drink my whiskey clear…” Do they mean the whiskey itself is clear or do they mean they kill it in one long swallow? Anyhow, the Yellow Jacket alumni might drink it any way they can get it come Saturday night. Popcorn Kiffin and his Rebel Black Bears will take the sting out of Buzz. Ole Miss 34, Georgia Tech 17.

Vanderbilt at Northern Illinois (-2.5)

WHOA!!! The Huskies are favored and the Dores have a 66.2 chance to win, says BSPN. Say whaaaaat? Tweetie is confused. I find that is not uncommon when one has just begun decade number 8 on this beautiful blue marble. I don’t have time to sort all this. Coach Clark Lea! Damn the torpedoes! Vanderbilt 31, Northern Illinois 28.

UL Monroe at Alabama (-49)

Seriously?

UL Monroe at Alabama (-49.5)

See! Even when I tried to “decline”, it raised the line and hit me again. OK! I’ll pick it! Dang! Terry (Maybe more Buster Brown than Kirby) Bowden leads the Warhawks into Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the shaken and stirred Crimpson Tide. In Saban’s first year at the Capstone, 2007, UL Monroe bested Bama. The next Auburn game we attended, after that upset, I saw a couple of students wearing Warhawks t-shirts. I saw Bama fans sporting Oregon regalia when the Tigers played the Ducks in the BCS Championship game. I don’t really care. Alabama 56, UL Monroe 9.

Mississippi State (-2.5) at LSU

Brian “Batman” Kelly and the Tiguz rebounded nicely against Southern, their crosstown “rivals”. The Pirate has found his footing in StarkVegas, Kelly has not done so in Red Stick. He probably will at some point. But I hope he takes a few classes at the Arthur Murray School of Dance first. Mike Leach told a story about going to the Flora-Bama Lounge when queried as to where the best party was that he ever attended. Will Rogers WILL carve up the Bayou Bengals’ secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey. Miss State 33, LSU 28.

Missouri State at Arkansas (-23)

Guess who the head coach is at MO State? No tacos on this little jewel. Jeopardy theme plays. BUZZZZZ!!! Ready for this? Bobby Petrino. You can’t make this stuff up. Insert Harley joke here. About 50 jokes popped into my head when I read this in prepping for the game. The thing is, ol’ Easy Rider has built an FCS championship contender down in Springfield. I spent a few weeks in Springfield back in my AAA days. It’s where cashew chicken was invented. At a Leong’s Restaurant. It was delicious! No, the Cashew Chickens is not the teams nickname. Taco time! You guess what the nickname is and a couple of carne asada tacos are yours! I like mine with soft flour tortillas, cilantro, lime, and salsa. Pigs 42, Pollos 16.

Akron at Tennessee (-47.5)

Seriously Deux?

Akron at Tennessee (-47.5)

(In my best Ronnie Reagan voice) Well,there you go again. Can’t decline. Must pick. Waste of time but it pads my stats. Same thing for The Corn Cobbers. Tennessee 55, Zips zip

South Florida at Florida (-24)

From the land of Tom Petty. An oh so dear friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, has a sister who dated Tom Petty way back in the day. God bless her and God bless Tom Petty. He is missed by so many. My favorite song of his is ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels (To Be Me)’. Speaking of music, The Boss’s ‘From Small Things Mama (Big Things One Day Come)’ is playing at full volume on my Sirius/XM Deep Tracks station right now… Pause to sing and play air guitar… Back to the Swamp. Florida 41, South Florida 20.

Miami at Texas A&M (-6)

The Hurricanes and Aggies. Hurricanes are good drinks and Aggies are good folks. Jimbo has an $86.5 million buyout. No need for one, at least in the immediate future. Who knows by season’s end. I thought I talked with great rapidity. Jimbo talks faster than a used car salesman on meth. One can procure a great deal of methamphetamine for $86.5 mill. I have a couple of meth stories. I will not share them here. I will tell you, in person, if you desire to hear such foolishness. SMH. My lock!!! Miami 23, Texas A&M 21

And now boys and girls! The Big Kahuna!

Penn State (-3) at Auburn

You can sub this contest for my “lock” if you like. The Nittany Lions trip to the Plains has been circled on thousands of Auburn fans’ calendars since the 2021 game’s completion. It will be the first game Me and Paul shall attend here in 2022. I am ready. All Auburn fans are ready. As I posted on Facebook, “White out, smite out, Orange Out At Jordan-Hare Saturday, WDE!!!” Hooooweeee!!! I hope the hospitable PSU fans have a most enjoyable trip except for three plus hours of burning hell on Saturday afternoon. This is the first time a Big Ten team has visited Jordan-Hare since 1931 when our boys took on the Wisconsin Badgers. AU has to run and stop the run, of course. It also MUST put pressure on QB Sean Clifford and get some good coverage from the secondary. If Mercer and San Jose State can throw the ball that well, think about what a sixth year senior and a talented team like Penn State could do. Auburn has four turnovers on the young season and has created… zero. That cannot continue. I do think the Tigers will play with great ferocity, passion, and intensity. I think they will get a couple of turnovers. I also believe Tank, Jarquez Hunter, and company will tote the rock quite well. T.J. has to be on the money. Ashford needs to have some nice plays. The sideline has to be better, as well. Coach em up!!! I’m feeling better about it as the kickoff draws nearer. The final nail in the coffin? Daniel Carlson. Auburn 26, Penn State 24.

No one garnered tacos last week. I hope to have a winner or two in Week Three. It should be a beautiful weekend for football in the SEC. Ya’ll enjoy the games. As Hillbilly Jim closes with on his show on Outlaw Country, “I ain’t here for a long time, I’m here for a good time”. Well, that’s close.

Take care out there. Tip your servers, and be sure to love your neighbor. Peace out.

Photo courtesy of Pexels free photos.

SEC Football: Week Two (2022 CE)

Dear diary. Wait! Wrong mode.

Welcome college football fans! That’s “butter”, as Gus used to say. It’s time to pick some Southeastern Conference gridiron games and you have landed on THE spot to do so while having a whole lotta fun in the process. Let us roll!

Week One and Week Zero (there we go with that head scratcher of a way to identify the grand opening of this great sport) saw your swami correctly assess 14 out of 15 contests for a .933 pct. How bout dem apples? Only LSWho let us down in her loss to The Semi-Holes. No problem. Let’s boogie!

Alabama (-20) at Texas.

In 1991 my son, Luke, and I took a road trip to Austin, TX. Auburn was 2-0 and highly ranked. The Horns were 1-1. I had heard about what a great atmosphere it was deep in the heart of Texas. Also what a special moment it was when the crowd stood and sang “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You”, accompanied by the marching band. I was ready. Well, that moment came and went and was, honestly, a bit of a let down. In fact, that was one of the three or four least intimidating atmospheres I have ever experienced, and I’ve been to a boatload of college football games, from Berkeley, CA to Boston Mass. The crowd might be more up in arms over this one but it won’t faze the Crimpson Tide. Alabama 42, Texas 17.

South Carolina at Arkansas (-8)

It was a nice, hard fought win last Satday in Fayetteville as Coach Sam (Cold Beer) Pittman’s Piggies defeated Coach Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati Bearcats. Now Coach Shane (Mayo) Beamer heads for the Ozark’s with his contingent of angry Cocks. Feathers will fly and the Roosters will crow but the hometown Hawgs will topple the visitors from Columbia, SC. Arkansas 34, South Carolina 20.

Wake Forest (-12.5) at Vanderbilt

Vandy has gotten pretty cocky themselves with a shiny 2-0 record and have scored a heap of points in doing so. There’ll be a lot of action down on Broadway in the NashVegas honky tonks, with consumers paying that 23% added tax on wine on liquor by the glass. Let’s be honest. Ol’ Dudley Field won’t be rocking’ raucously. The Demon Deacon fans will be praying for a victory and the Dores fans will show up late and leave early. This could be a decent little football game. 23rd ranked Wake has too much firepower in the end. Wake Forest 42, Vanderbilt 24.

Missouri at Kansas State (-7.5)

The wagering seems to be trending toward the Tigers and the points for showtime at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. We traveled to watch Auburn beat the Kitties there in 2014. Great people and a heckuva good atmosphere. This un is a Big Twelve rematch from days gone by. Eli’s coming and the Manhattan welcome wagon will be waiting. In a dandy! Kansas State 34, Missouri 28.

Appalachian State at Texas A&M (-19)

The line has actually risen from 18 to 19 on the Aggies in an intriguing matchup of Power Five vs. Group of Five. Which five do you like? That’s what I thought! The Power! Me too! No brainer! The Mountaineers will give Jimbo’s boys all that can handle though. Should be fun! Texas A&M 35, App State 23.

Tennessee (-6) at Pitt

Live on ABC from the land of three rivers. Taco Time! Can you name those three where the waters flow free? Hint. An Oak Ridge Boys tune. Huh? Pat Narduzzi will have armed Pitt with the necessary weapons. Will it be enough to pull off the upset? Maybe. But I don’t think so. The Smoky, Rocky Topping, Corn Cobbers have plenty in its arsenal. That will be enough to vault them to a conquest over the Panthers. Tennessee 38, Pitt 30.

Samford at Georgia (-52)

Dawgs versus Dawgs. That is absolutely where a favorable comparison of these teams ends. Haw!!! The Baptist Boys from Birmingham have zero (yeah, old naught again) chance ‘Twixt The Hedges’ and Buster Brown’s Brigades. Nada, Zilch. Okay, you get the message. Here comes a ‘number six’! Georgia 63, Samford Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Kentucky at Florida (-6)

Billy Napier’s Water Lizards are a bit sassy after scraping by a very much overrated Utah team. Mark Stoops’ Felines certainly won’t run all over the Swampers (“Muscle Shoals has got the…”). Leading rusher Chris Rodriguez is not expected to play for the Cats. Yet, a donnybrook is in the making. Florida 28, Kentucky 24.

Central Arkansas at Ole Miss (-34)

Taco Time Two! Can you name Central Arky’s nickname without looking? These are all no lookers. Therein lies the fun! My Trojans gave a valiant effort at Vaught-Hemingway this past weekend. It’s not that I expect the visitors to spend all day in The Grove and play drunk. They simply do not have a chance. Ok, a 0.9% chance according to BSPN. Ole Miss 48, Central Arkansas 0.

Southern at LSU (-47.5)

It’s not like Southern is AT at LSU. Both schools call Red Stick home. The Tiguz did not look good in the Big Easy opener with Florida State. That last drive almost saw some of that famous Voodoo assist LSU to an improbable TD. But alas! A blocked PAT gave the Tallahassee gang the win. The “visiting” Jaguars can block all seven of the homey’s extra points and still lose by a hefty margin. Let’s say they do. LSU 45, Southern 6.

Mississippi State (-11) at Arizona (“Hey won’t you go my way…”)

The late great Mel Tillis once crooned, on a tune taken from Clint Eastwood’s movie ‘Every Which Way But Loose’, “Go on and send me down to Tucson and I’ll get the job done…”. Speaking of Mel Tillis. The first show I saw in Branson, when I was assigned the Western TN/KY, Southern MO, and all of Arkansas territory when working for AAA, was at ol’ Mel’s theater. After an opening song or two, he began the introduction segment of the show by saying, “I’m P P P P P Pam’s daddy.” Dude could sing! The Pirate and his Bullpups, lead by QB Will Rogers, Lord there’s another sidebar, WILL take a “W” back to StarkVegas. Miss State 38, Arizona 21.

San Jose State at Auburn (-23)

Our Tigers had their moments in the opener with Mercer. Another Baptist school. Somebody liable to get wet! Rain is in the forecast. “Dunk em Tigers just like preachers!” And then give em “hell”. Well, we did hear a heap about Hades growing up. But As Karl told Vaughn in ‘Slingblade’, “I don’t think you ‘re going to ‘Hadis’.” Neither am I. Nor neither are you. But I digress into the theological. The Spartans are coming to Jordan-Hare on Pat Dye Field Saturday night. ‘Neath the glistening skies! “Some people call it a slingblade, I call it a Kaiser blade.” I’ve done the Dionne Warwick song reference before in evaluating a contest involving San Jose State.It’s a tried and true one. “I’ve been away so long.” Silicon Valley. Yadda yadda yadda. I saw Willie Nelson, in the round no less, in San Jose back in ’87. Lord! The ramblings of an old man. Auburn 37, Sn Jose State 17.

Our taco winners last week were Claudia Swift and Ed “The Bear” Starkie. Two of my favorite folks! Let’s hope we have more winners this round. I hope we have winners every week. We’ll just have a taco fest somewhere. Maybe throw in some chips and salsa, as well as your favorite beverages and some sopapillos!

Love y’all! Safe travels and love your neighbor! Peace out.

Photo courtesy of Pexel Photos

SEC Football: Week One (2022 AD)

So, how was Week Zero for you? Weak? That’s what I thought. I have come to bring you good news of glad tidings and great joy! There are 14 SEC football games coming to you you over the next four days, and we here at Bird’s Banter are prepared to share our prognostications to one and all so that ye might find treasures and riches galore. Once again, we provide you the winners. It’s your job to find them. (And again, $1 to Jeff Shultz for that wee morsel of truth.)

Onward and upward my fellow gazers of the gridiron! The games are listed in the order in which they will be played. Movin’ On…

Ball State at Tennessee (-35.5)

Do it to it like Sonny Pruitt! (You must pay attention to the references. That’s half the fun!) He of 18 wheeler fame is the proper example of gittin’ er dun! And ex Vol head man, Jeremy Pruitt is not. “At McDonald’s, we do it all for you.” Dave Letterman’s alma mater stands zero, there’s that dang word again, chance of defeating the hometown Corn Cobbers. Actually, it stands a 4.9% chance of toppling the Rockies according to BSPN. Tennessee 52, Ball State 6.

LA Tech at Missouri (-20.5)

The second of two SEC Thursday night clashes. Now, this one could get very interesting. If Eli (has a) Drinkwitz you before the game then the Rustonites could pull of the first big shocker of the weekend. No, Northwestern’s upset of the Huskers, speaking of corn, was pretty much expected by this fearless forecaster. I said hello country bumpkin, Scott Frost’s butt is on the stumpkin. Yep! No false Natties to claim in Lincoln. Buh bye! Anyhoo… Missouri 37, LA Tech 24.

Sam Houston at Texas A&M (-29.5)

“Jimbo Jimbo!” That was a quote of Terry Bowden summoning Coach Fisher on the headset during Auburn’s 1993 National Championship season. Some source(s) did declare it! I claim it! (Hey! This is FREE!) Just like JJ and Joe Willie say! Back to College Station. I don’t know why the Aggies continue to get so much love each passing year in the preseason. Show me! Naw, that’s MIzzou. Name Sammy Houston’s mascot with proper spelling, without looking, and you win one free taco the next time we bump into each other. At what other site do they just give away free food? Homeys cover. Texas A&M 42, Sam Houston 7.

Oregon vs. Georgia (-17) in Hotlanta

The defending National Champions (“We ain’t defending nuthnin'”. Oh yes you is!) take on former UGA defensive coordinator Dan Lanning’s West Coast Groovies (Follow the references).Teacher/pupil, blah blah blah. Former Auburn Tiger Bo Nix is QB1 in Eugene. Oh Karma where art thou? Buster Brown has “elite” talent across the board. The Ducks will quack loudly for a bit. Pups have too much talent and firepower in this “neutral site” game. (Remember Legion Field!) I hope you don’t tire of parenthetical phrases. Tweetie loves em! Georgia 31, Oregon 20.

Cincinnati at Arkansas (-6.5)

Potential upset alert but I doubt it. Fun no less. The Beatles White Album song just raced and snorted across my aging mind. Remember Leather (Tusc)adero on Happy Days? More tacos if you can name the actors/singer who played her. Hawgs lost a few guys but ol’ Sam Pittman is getting there. Remember the visitors to Northwest Arky? The last time we saw them they were the Group of Five sacrificial lamb to the SEC Champions/eventual national runner up to Spanky and his gang. Arkansas 28, Cincinnati 24.

Troy at Ole Miss (-22.5)

Just spent three days with seven of my former Troy State Lambda Chi fraternity brothers at the Fourth Annual Gathering of the Cracker Box Buds. (See Steve Straughn for moniker explanation. He is our host extraordinaire and truly one of the good guys. As are all the buds). We spoke of this game and what a great road trip it would be. “Oxfud” would “nevuh” be the same. We might not bring it with the same ferocity as we did in the early to mid seventies, but there remains some fire in the bellies. Long live bourbon, bushwhackers, and beer! And NSAIDS!!! Stop there Bird! Oh for the Trojan upset. LSU Deux? ‘Friad not. Black Bear Land Sharks 35, T-Roy 14.

Utah (-3) at Florida

An SEC the underdog at home on opening day to a PAC-12 sissy??!! How dare you suh?! Da Utes won the conference in 2021 and are favored to do the same thing in 2022. Dandy Dan Mullen is gone. “Tuesday’s Gone, keep up!, with the wind.” Introducing former Louisiana Ragin Cajuns head coach, Billy Napier. He should restore law, order, and respectability to the Gainesville Water Lizards, although that might not occur fully in 2022. I haven’t heard much out of the “Head ball Coach” lately. Ye? In a mild upset/squeaker… Florida 24, Utah 23.

Miami Ohio at Kentucky (-16)

The sun shines bright in Lexington after the second 10 win season under Mark Stoops. Hats off to the Cats boss. Well, maybe except for John “Whine” Calamari. A hotbed of MAC coaching travels to Lexington for a whuppin’. Enjoy the bourbon and bluegrass! Kentucky 38, Miami Ohio 10.

Elon at Vanderbilt (-19)

Who the Sam Hill is Elon? Elon, among other fine things, was where my former colleague, and friend, Jan Fuller, was a chaplain until very recently when she retired. She was in campus ministry at Yale when I was doing the same at SUNY Albany in the capital of New York. “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…” Very good times in the mid eighties. That’s where I developed my addiction to Buffalo wings. We are returning to NY and New England for fall foliage in October. Paul retired June 1. “Look out mama there’s a white boat coming up the river…” I digress. More tacos for Elon’s nickname! Vanderbilt 45, Elon 10.

Utah State at Aaaaaaaalabama (-41.5)

A forty plus point favorite over a team that was ranked last season. And Nickidemus just signed an extension. Dear 9 lb 11 oz baby Jesus, please let coach Saban, who we all just love so much, retire very soon. We would like to play with the football too.

Love, Tweetie.

P.S. And please bring me an electric football game and a Tucker Frederickson jersey for Christmas.

Alabama 49, Utah State 3

Memphis at Mississippi State (-16)

I can’t remember who the head coach is at Memphis. Y’all? I can remember how much I love the ribs at Rendezvous and the house band at the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street. My friend Tom Kimmel married the outstanding young woman who is now the pastor at the First Baptist Church of Memphis. Great BBQ, great preaching, and great music! Can’t beat it. But the game is being played in StarkVegas. What they got good to eat there? And music? And where is the Jesus hookup? Hey! This could be a good game. Or not. Pirate wins.They did have a Ruby Tuesday the last time I was in the City of Bully Dogs. “Who could hang a name on you?” Miss State 35, Memphis 17.

Georgia State at South Carolina (-12.5)

The Downtown ATL Panthers do not resemble the Carolina or Pittsburgh teams of the same nickname. Or do they? They almost beat Auburn last year. That was the emergence of T.J. Finley. AU QB numero uno. More on that later. The Cocks will rise to the occasion and defend the Columbia home turf well. Shane Beamer’s guys won the Duke’s Mayo Bowl last year. He was covered in the outstanding condiment after the game. Folks, I don’t make this stuff up. I’ll be 70 years old Saturday. I have seen the game I know and love so passionately evolve. Would that be that word? No no no! I have seen it Devolve. SMH. South Carolina 33, Georgia State 21.

Florida State at LSU (-3)

Jay-Sus! Can we get to the Auburn game??? Did y’all see new LSU top dog Brian Kelly doing the Batman dance behind one of the guys he was recruiting? Lights flashing, et al. Vincent Vega he ain’t. Bad at mocking a Cajun accent as well. A former Memphis head coach, Mike Norvell, now leads the Semi-Holes. I wonder if he ever went to Corky’s or the Rum Boogie Cafe? I don’t know if he can dance or talk Native American, but I know the great countrysiner-songwriter John Anderson had a big hit with Seminole Wind. Great song! Tempted to call an upset. But Tiguz win and cover. LSU 28, FSU 21.

And finally!

Mercer at Auburn (-31.5)

Saved my boys for last even though it ‘s out of order in terms of when the games are played. T.J., as aforementioned, is the man. Bryan Harsin has been separating the wheat from the chaff and the man who hired him is gone. And some folks wanted Harsin gone. Sometimes I get so damn mad at what goes on at one of my three alma maters I could scream. But she’s mine and I love her (Beatles song reference). My .02? Harsin is a badass. Leave him alone and he will get this thing on track. Auburn will surprise people this season. In a good way. The first five games are at home. There is a distinct possibility of entering October at 5-0. There is talent and pretty good depth on this Lee County aggregation. Tank is primed for a massive year. The D is looking really good. The hunger is there in spades. The chip is planted squarely on the shoulder. Beware all ye who enter here! WDE! Auburn 44, Mercer 14.

So there you have it! Whew! We’re at 100% with the Commodores opening shellacking in Week Zero!

Y’all have a fantastic Labor Day weekend! Be safe! And as always, love your neighbor! Peace out!

Photo credit Pexels

SEC Football: Week Zero (Say whaaaaaat?)

DORES SLAM ON RAINBOW WARRIORS

Week Zero, what a concept huh, was kind to the lone SEC team to see action yesterday as mighty Vanderbilt hammered host Hawaii like a ten penny nail, 63-10.

Jethro Bodine, aspiring “Double Naught Spy”, was elated at college football’s first weekend having incorporated “Zero” into the weekend’s title. Miss Jane Hathaway was rumored to be instrumental in the name selection process of the season’s unveiling.

Jed Clampett responded with an enthusiastic, “Welllll doggie!” when informed of the SEC team’s first game victory. Miton Drysdale was not available for comment. And Granny Clampett was last seen out by the family’s cement pond nipping on some rhuematiz “medicine” late Saturday evening.

And now, on to how Vegas views the activities scheduled for what is being termed “Week One” of NCAA football, oddly enough. Chuck Negron, of Three Dog Night fame, was highly influential in the decision making for an apt moniker of contests to be played September 1-5.

Ball State at Tennessee (-34)
LA Tech at Missouri (-19)
Sam Houston at Texas A&M (-29.5)
Oregon at Georgia (-17) Atlanta
Cincinnati at Arkansas (-6.5)
Troy at Ole Miss (-22.5)
Utah (-3) at Florida 👀
Miami Ohio at Kentucky(-16.5)
Mercer at Auburn (-31.5)
Elon at Vanderbilt (-19)
Utah State at Alabama (-41.5)
Memphis at Miss State (-15)
Georgia State at South Carolina (-12.5)
Florida State at LSU (-3)

Predictions coming soon!

(Photo courtesy of Openverse)

Basketball. Yes, Basketball!

I was in the fourth grade, in Miss Nell Jones’ class, and my brother, Jerry, would have been in the eleventh grade, when daddy put up a basketball goal in our backyard. This was 1961 or 1962. Jerry was on the high school team and I was a tiny little fellow who had, most probably, never shot a basketball. And when I say I was tiny, I mean I was very little. Earlier that year my mother had even taken me to a doctor in Selma to check out why I was having headaches around the same time every day at school and to see if he could determine why I did not seem to be growing. The headaches stopped, but I didn’t really start growing into the size I am now until the ninth grade. That was the year I was the manager of the basketball team and played church basketball for the RA’s. The Royal Ambassadors.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…” Two Corinthians (wink) 5:20. And truly I was not an an ambassador for Christ until I had a “Damascus Road” conversion experience in the summer of 1975. I even went to two different seminaries and entered into the ministry. Blogs discussing this can be found right here on Bird’s Banter and were written back in the summer of 2014, if you are interested.

Anyway, back to basketball. I attended my first college basketball game in that same winter of the fourth grade,1962, at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, AL. Auburn vs. Alabama. The “Iron Bowl” basketball games were played exclusively in Montgomery back in those days. The first one I saw on a campus was in the old Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa back in the winter 1967-68. Freshmen didn’t play on the varsity back then, and the freshman game was played before the varsity game in a double header. Auburn great, John Mengelt, was on that freshman team and I was quickly taken with him and his style of play. He remains my favorite Auburn basketball player to this day. (Sorry Sir Charles. I do love you but you’re number two). Auburn won the freshman game. Unfortunately, Alabama won the varsity game on a last second score by Mike Nordholz.

Back to Montgomery. My close friend, Tommy Ratcliffe, went to that first Auburn-Alabama game with daddy and me and Auburn did win that game as well as the freshman game. Herbert Greene led the freshmen to their victory. The names I remember from the varsity were Layton Johns, Billy Tinker, and Larry Chapman (who later became a legendary coach at AUM). Joel Eaves, as in Beard-Eaves Coliseum, was the coach. The Tigers had a very good team that year. 18-6 and 11-3 in the SEC. and some of you folks will remember The Barn (Auburn Sports Arena) that they played in at home. That was the building that infamously burned to the ground during the Auburn-LSU football game in 1996. My son, Luke was a freshman at Auburn at that time.

And we return to our backyard. As I said, I was a wee lad and couldn’t even get the basketball to the goal then. I had to shoot it ‘Granny Style”, with two hands from under my legs. I became pretty good shooting in that manner, but Rick Barry didn’t, later, have anything to worry about. I think he shot about 90% on his free throws using the “Granny Style” during his time with the Golden State Warriors.

Years later our backyard became a serious hub of neighborhood roundball. I even put up a spotlight in a pecan tree and ran an extension cord through a window in my room so we kids could play anytime, day or night. I became quite proficient shooting the ball at that goal over the years. I could just about shoot it with my eyes closed and make shots on that goal. The backboard was dead as a stump and you could hit a bank shot with ease. The goal also bobbed up and down a bit when you shot one that didn’t “strip” it.

I went on to play on the “B” team in the 10th and 11th grade and was on the “A” team as a senior. That 11th grade team went 17-0. Also on the team were Frank McGraw, Johnny “Stick” Dunnam, Steven Terry, Billy Ray Hughes, and five other guys that I cannot remember. Some of the dads of the players and a few other men in Camden, including beloved Mayor, Johnny Mott, had a celebration catfish and oyster dinner for us at the Legion Hut. Johnny Mott tried to get me to eat a raw oyster which I declined to do. Later I did learn to sho nuff love raw oysters.

After high school I played some intramural basketball in college, at Troy, and at seminary in Fort Worth, TX. I believe “String Music” was our team’s nickname in Fort Worth. Also played church league ball in Selma when I was the pastor of the Shady Grove Baptist Church in Burnsville. It was all great fun. And no “Granny Style” anymore!

Yes. Basketball. I have had a passion for the game for 60 years now. And I say all of the above to say this. War Eagle!!! The Auburn men’s basketball team is now NUMBER ONE in the nation and all of creation! ($1 to Big Daddy Lawler). That is according to the AP Poll released today (1/24/21) at noon. The team would also probably be the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament if it were to begin shortly.

Yes! Auburn has the deepest, 11 deep, and best basketball team in all of college basketball. The team is supremely talented and coached by the best in the business, in my estimation. Bruce Pearl has taken a program without a pulse and made it into a perennial power. At Auburn. I think most experts would have told you, over seven years ago when Coach Pearl took the reins of the program, that that would be a virtual impossibility. Yet… here we are. TODAY. “Simply the best, better than ALL the rest.”

WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!

SEC Football: Week 13 Picks

I just lost my opening paragraph, again, when I thought I “saved draft” on my computer. I’ve been starting these masterpieces (LOL!!!) on my phone in many instances this 2021 college football season. The computer has been more reliable in saving the blasted things but it certainly did not cooperate this time. So, now, these words constitute my opening paragraph. Speaking of not cooperating. Many years ago, 1988 maybe, I heard Melodye and Leah going at it in Leah’s room one morning before school. The typical wrangle over what Leah wanted to wear. Things quieted down a bit before I heard this shout of declaration, “I will cooperate! I will cooperate!” Wise choice of words darling daughter. Miss Mel has a very long fuse, but when said fuse is burned to a nub, you done went and did it. I tend to have a very, very long fuse when it comes to Auburn coaches. The next game I coach will be my first. I have no idea of the complexity of the intricacies these gents deal with and I cannot imagine the pressure that they operate under. That being said… Well, I’ll just leave it at that for now.

Ole Miss (-2) at Mississippi State

First game of “Rivalry Week.” Ye olde Egg Bowl. I forgot the origin of how this game came to be know as the Egg Bowl. I do know it can get really nasty when these two go at each other. And now, with Kiffin and Leach, we have ourselves a full blown circus. Ah! The potential quotes just waiting to be verbalized! And a tough one to pick. Home team? Highest ranked team? Both teams can sling it around with the best of them. Will Rogers, great philosopher and grassroots statesman. Matt Corral, no shootout at the OK, and no wisecracks like Doc Holiday, but quite the gunslinger. I think State has the better defense. That, coupled with the home field advantage, moves the needle to… Miss State 34, Ole Miss 31.

Missouri at Arkansas (-14.5)

Tigers and Tusks. Live from beautiful Fayetteville, AR. And they have a Friday time slot. Should be another entertaining test. Piggies are 7-4 and ranked number 25 in some poll. If it’s not the CFP poll then it’s, basically, irrelevant. Hey! Eli’s coming with a bowl eligible 6-5 team. The visitors can pull even with Sam Pittman’s crew, record wise, if they can pull the upset. I have a story about going to one of those huge honky tonks that used to be prevalent across the nation’s landscape many years ago. I’ve been to Billy Bob’s Texas on multiple occasions. I went to one somewhere in Silicon Valley before it REALLY became Silicon Valley. It was the largest one west of the Mississippi, so I was told. That was 1993. Anyway, I was at the one that was popular in Fayetteville, Arky in ’94 or ’95. It was ok except for the line dancing, which I truly loathed back then, and still do. I’ll relay the story at a later date. The home team will be doing the dancing in the locker room Friday. Arkansas 38, Missouri 24.

Georgia (-35) at Georgia Tech

First game of the day! Nick nick nick! A game? Really. The Bees lost 55-Zippo to the Fighting Irish last week. I don’t expect anything radically different Satday. Grant Field. Legion Field. Sally Fields. No matter. You know the line in I’m A Rambling Wreck From Georgia Tech? “Like all other jolly good fellows, I drink my whiskey clear.” That is my advice to the supporters of the North Street boys. Start early and finish late. It will all be over before dark. And how about TWO italicized lines in this blurb? Georgia 49. Georgia Tech 3.

Florida State at Florida (-2.5)

Just like last week. Water Lizards favored!? Again, somebody in Vegas is drunk. Dapper Dan could be. He’s free and easy with his buyout and Darth Vader outfit. Eli Drinkwitz (you) trolled Danny Boy pretty good with his Star Wars outfit and this comment. “My father is a farmer and there’s an old saying that you reap what you sow. If you sow kindness, you reap kindness. If you sow jackass, you reap jackass.” Wise words. You might want to take them to heart Dan-0. Noles will drain the Swamp. Florida State 31, Florida 27.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee (-31.5)

That’s a big ole line. The Dores have been getting pretty frisky lately. I don’t know if the Rocky Toppers can lay it on that thick. Ok, they can lay it on that thick. But will they? Nope. Tennessee 45, Vanderbilt 20.

Texas A&M (-6.5) at LSU

Red Stick in the evening. Upset? Maybe. Yaw Yaw remains the coach. Jimbo is, most assuredly, a better coach. And I do believe that the Aggies are a better team. The air will be wafting the smells of bourbon, corn dogs and gumbo. What a trifecta! The guys from Texas play better defense and, well, better offense. It all adds up to… Texas A&M 28, LSU 17.

Clemson (-11.5) at South Carolina

Will Roosterville be as rude to Dabo’s minions as it was to Harsin’s gang? The Felines have been playing well of late, as have the Fowl. Clempson certainly has the better team. I thought Auburn did too. No to the Tigers last week. Yes this week. Clemson 27, South Carolina 17.

Kentucky at Louisville (-3)

Is the Cardinals stadium still Papa John’s Palace or whatever it was? The pizza is falling out of the sky! The pizza is falling out of the sky! ($1 to Larry Munson.) Cats have the better record but they sure have been stumbling around here in the mid to late autumn. They have rebounded from that three game losing streak to pound a couple of much lesser opponents. The Redbirds have also walloped their last two lesser opponents. Home field advantage looks good from here. Extra cheese and pepperoni, if you will. Papa John’s or no Papa John’s. Louisville 24, Kentucky 21.

Alabama (-19.5) at Auburn

I love reading that. AT AUBURN. At Auburn has been very good to the Tigers in Jordan-Hare. They are 10-5 here versus the Crimson Tide. Strange things have happened during this game at Jordan-Hare, also. There is most definitely some mojo for the home team in this venue. I’ve never seen anything like it. Folks can talk about any other rivalry that they care to, and none of them come close to what has been dubbed The Iron Bowl. This will be my 41st Auburn-Alabama game to attend. I prefer that to Iron Bowl. (Having more fun with italics.) Alabama has the better team. And that point is enhanced by Auburn losing Bo Nix, Anders Carlson and Owen Pappoe to injuries. Part of the game boys and girls. All of that puts the visitors at a distinct advantage. It would take a monumental effort form Finley, Tank and the others on offense. The defense would have to play lights completely out and have Bryce Young running for his life. I think some of that will happen but not enough to put Auburn over the top. Alabama 34, Auburn 20.

Auburn also kept me from having a perfect tally last week. I was 9-1 and that upset did me in. Please fool me again this week Tigers! How did President W put it? “Fool me once. Fool me twice. Fool me with some beans and rice.” I don’t know. I’m 81-23 on the year and that is a .778 pct. No more locks. Done with that, although I do like Leach’s squad and the points. Go eat some turkey. Have you a tasty beverage. Live out of gratitude. Be careful. Shake a tail feather. And love thy neighbor. Peace out!

SEC Football: Week 12 Picks

Oops! It is almost 6:00 PM ET and I forgot to do my picks. Getting old is, well, you know the drill, getting old. We’ve got Auburn basketball at 7 o’clock, so, boys and girls. You are going to get an abbreviated version of SEC Football Picks this week. When you see the slate of games you’ll be happy things turned out that way. Onward!

Charleston Southern at Georgia (No line)

Dawgs by 49

Prairie View at Texas A&M (No line)

Aggies by 45

Tennessee State at Mississippi State (No line)

SEC Officials Favorite Team by 50

New Mexico State at Kentucky (-36)

Cats by 38

South Alabama at Tennessee (-28)

Corn Cobs by 30

UL Monroe at LSU (-29)

Kitties by 31

Now we get into some serious SEC football.

Arkansas at Alabama (-20.5)

This could be a very good ballgame for a spell. The Pigs come to play. Alabama is pretty good at this too. The Tide will ultimately roll. Alabama 35, Arkansas 17

Florida (-8.5) at Missouri

The Water Lizards are favored. Somebody’s drunk in Vegas. Eli should have a Drinkwitz him. Missouri 42, Florida 35

Auburn (-7.5) at South Carolina

Somebody got sober in Vegas. T.J. Finley is ready to roll and will have a solid game. Auburn needs redemption in the worst kind of way. It should find that in Columbia, SC. Auburn 31, South Carolina 21

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (-36.5)

Whassup with all the .5’s? Geez! The Grove Gang puts a drubbing on the Anchormen. Ole Miss 45, Vanderbilt 13

Was really hoping for a perfect record last week but the two Mississippi teams screwed that up royally. 6-2 on the week. Forgot to pick a lock. Failing miserably in my life as a thief. The season tally now is 72-22. That be a pct. of .765. Be safe. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Next week is Rivalry Week! YeeeHaaaw! “She played tambourine with a silver jingle and she must have known the words to at least a million tunes…”

SEC Football: Week 11 Picks

Here we are at Week 11 of NCAA football. In less than two weeks we’ll eating turkey and giving thanks. The giving thanks is the most important of the two. The great Ray Wylie Hubbard wrote in one of his songs, “And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.” May it be so. Last week was a bit of a struggle in the ole pickin’ department. I was 4-3 and I also missed my lock, Auburn +4.5 at A&M. That makes me 5-4 in the locks category. My season record is 66-20 and that comes to a pct. of .767. Come on! Let’s hit 90% this round!

New Mexico State at Alabama (-51.5)

I think we would all enjoy this game more if it were in Las Cruces, the home of the Aggies. It is absolutely beautiful out there in southern New Mexico. No offense to those who love T-Town. Bend over and grab your ankles, NMS. Alabama 49, New Mexico State 3.

Mississippi State at Auburn (-5.5)

Both this one and the Bama game are nooners ET. Fine. AU returns to the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. It won’t rock like it does at night but the crowd will still be a factor. The O line, along with Bo Nix and company will be serious about some redemption. The D will do a good enough job against Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. Auburn 28, Miss State 20.

Samford at Florida (No line)

No pole. Therefore we cannot go down to the crawdad hole. The Baptist boys from Birmingham will wish they had gone fishing once Dapper Dan’s crew is finished with them. Dan needs the reprieve badly. His fanny is hotter than (you fill in the blank). Florida 45, Samford 10.

Georgia (-20) at Tennessee

I’m watching Tim Tebow with Paul Finebaum, on Pawl’s show, as I type this on my phone. Tim was making a case that Tennessee could win if certain things fall the Vols’ way. As my son, Luke would say, ”No.” Georgia 35, Tennessee 17.

South Carolina (-1) at Missouri

How bout dem Cocks?! They put a whoopin’ on Dapper Dan’s Water Lizards last week. Haw! It’ll be a scrap between Beamer’s Roosters and Drinkwitz (you’s) Felines. The line strongly suggests this. Might be one of the best games of the day. Missouri 31, South Carolina 27.

Texas A&M (-2.5) at Ole Miss

Another potential dandy! Jimbo was pissin’ and moanin’ about Auburn players simulating his team’s precious snap counts. Really! He whined about Dameyune Craig stealing FSU’s signals in the BCS National Championship Game. Craig was on the FSU staff the previous year. Shut up and and take your wins graciously Butthead. I wish Lane would hang 50 on you. No such luck. Texas A&M 28, Ole Miss 24.

Kentucky (-21.5) at Vanderbilt

The Cats lost a heartbreaker to the up and coming Rock Toppers last Satday. Said Cats will not have that happen two weeks running. The Anchormen, $1 to Will Ferrell. I have a Will Ferrell encounter story I’ll tell next week. Gotta keep the hook in y’all to stay with me. $1 to Rod Stewart. But no story of me and Rod. Back to the point. The Anchormen will put up a fight early, but the Bluegrass boys will pull away in the second half. Kentucky 35, Vanderbilt 13.

Arkansas (-2.5) at LSU

Mercy! $1 to Roy Orbison. I’m going broke handing out all these George Washingtons! Anyhoo, there will likely be many a pretty woman at Tiger Stadium Satday night. Can’t pull the mild upset trigger on this one. Arkansas 30, LSU 23.

Y’all enjoy the clashes this week! Having to sell my tickets again. Still can’t make the long walks it takes to attend a game on the Plains. Going in two weeks if I have to go on crutches. Iron Bowl baby! But, there is the matter of one more “regular” week in 2021 before we get to “Rivalry Week.” See you right here next Friday! Enjoy life and love your neighbor! Peace out!


SEC Football: Week 10 Picks

It’s time to separate the men from the boys, the contenders from the pretenders, in the SEC and across the entire college football landscape. Yes, we are about to enter the proverbial home stretch. Your Picker went 3-1 in Week Nine and he also hit his lock, Georgia -14 versus Florida. We’re now 5-3 in the locks category. The season record is 62-17. That is a .784 pct. My lock this week is Auburn +4.5. There are seven games involving SEC teams in Week 10. Let’s decipher these tests.

Missouri at Georgia (-39.5)

This one is not even fair. The guys at the Alamo had a better chance than the visitors from Columbia, MO have twixt the hedges Satday. The only decision Kirby has to make is whether to bake, broil or fry Eli’s bunch. The Tigers head coach will certainly want to have a Drinkwitz someone when this shellacking is completed. Georgia 52, Missouri 10.

Liberty at Ole Miss (-9.5)

Well well well. Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze returns to the scene of the crimes in one of the more interesting battles of the weekend. Storylines abound! If the Flames were to pull off the upset, ol’ Hugh might have to be, ahem, “escorted” off the field at the game’s conclusion, and not in the manner to which he is accustomed. Lane should have his Train on track and the hometown heroes return to their winning ways. In a shootout. Ole Miss 45, Liberty 37.

Auburn at Texas A&M (-4.5)

The CBS feature game of the week. That feature game comes with one major caveat. Our favorite color commentator, Gary Danielson, will be in the booth. Enjoy! Auburn can take a huge step in the quest toward Hotlanta, so can the Aggies. The Tigers remain in the hunt if they cannot topple A&M. The home team is, essentially, eliminated if it loses. Big fat game! The old mantra, run the ball and stop the run, is, again, applicable here. I think Auburn will be able to do that better than than Jimbo’s troops. I also think Bo Nix will be the X factor that helps Coach of the Year candidate, Bryan Harsin, secure his seventh win of the season. Auburn 27, Texas A&M 23.

Mississippi State at Arkansas (-4.5)

Our third doozy in a row as we work our way down the Week 10 picks. Coach Mike “Pirate” Leach’s Pups continue to find their footing in the Air Raid offense and they aren’t bad on defense either. Pittman’s Pigs are also a solid squad, as well. This one could easily go either way and I’ll have to give the nod to the Razorbacks as they hold the home team advantage. Arkansas 28, Miss State 24.

LSU at Alabama (-28.5)

The Bayou Bengals have become purring, docile kitties. They would be better off with a forfeit. That score would only be 2-0. But they have to travel all the way to Tuscaloosa, get humiliated, and return to Red Stick (Wouldn’t that be a good title for something? A book, a movie, a doggie fetch show maybe?) Return To Red Stick, starring the deposed Ed “Coach O” Oregon, with co-star Nick “Aflac” Saban. True story. A Bama “fan” called into Finebaum the Monday after the loss to A&M and suggested that the Tide would fare much better if Saban didn’t do those commercials during halftime. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Alabama 48, LSU 16.

Tennessee (-1) at Kentucky

Back to the “dandies”, and this should be one. The way these two teams have been trending, you would think the Vols have the upper hand. But the Felines are back home at Kroger Field and that has to be an advantage. No? Tennessee can score points in bunches. Kentucky can play some pretty salty defense. In a thriller of a tossup. Kentucky 28, Tennessee 27.

Florida (-20.5) at South Carolina

What’s up with Dapper Dan? He’s been awful testy and thin-skinned as of late. Recruiting season? Isn’t that every hour of every day Dan-o? Is he losing his team? Is he in hot water? Does he still have his shoe deal? That’s one thing that makes him dapper, along with his Clooney-esque hair gel. If the Water Lizards don’t win this week, then he could have to start peddling that stuff. “Hi! I’m Dapper Dan and I’m a Dapper Dan man!” The Roosters could make it interesting for, possibly, a good while. But I just can’t see an upset here. Florida 31, South Carolina 20.

Braves win!!! Braves win!!! Braves win!!! Wasn’t that something, folks? I watched a little bit of the parade that we didn’t dare go near Atlanta to do. The brief observations took place right here at 116. In beautiful Cherokee County, Georgia. That’s the way it’s been with football. I remain sidelined and have watched all but one Auburn game on tv. I am probable for the Mississippi State game next Satday! Until next week, exercise regularly, eat minimal amounts of sugar, do your daily devotionals, and love your neighbor. Peace out!