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 Media Days Final and 2021 Prediction

Company’s Comin’!

“Oh Mama, I’m excited, I’m almost out of breath
What I saw like t’made me run myself to death
I was on the mountain side when I looked down below
And glory be I thought I’d better come and let you know
That we got company comin’, company comin’, we got company comin’ up the road
They’re down the road about a mile they’ll be here in a little while
There’s company comin’ up the road.”

That is the way I feel after hanging with SEC Media Days this week. Football is upon us and practice begins in two weeks. This week was the unofficial beginning of the season and I can’t remember when I have been more excited about an upcoming autumn of college football, and in particular, SEC Football. It’s like what Porter Wagoner was trying to communicate in that great song of his. We got company comin’ mama and they’re almost here! As Jerry Clower used to say, “Haw!”

Eli Drinkwitz (MIssouri), Sam Pittman (Arkansas), and Bryan Harsin (Auburn) wrapped up the four days of coaches sharing the views and visions, Thursday afternoon, of their respective teams and it about is about time to put the foot to the pigskin. Haw, indeed!

Let’s get to it! I will finish up with my impressions of the coaches and follow it with predictions of how I think it will all shake down in the Southeastern Conference.

Eli Drinkwitz is yet another of these impressive “new” SEC coaches. He is entering his second year at Mizzou but this was his first Media Days appearance, with the the 2020 meeting being cancelled due to COVID. He has ties to Bryan Harsin, “owes him a debt”, and also Gus Malzahn. The former Tiger coach was a mentor to him when he spent time on the Auburn staff.

Drinkwitz is sharp, bright, articulate, and young. The youngest head coach in the SEC. And he is funny. A really incisive sense of humor is almost always a big plus. I will be surprised if Mizzou is not highly competitive and successful under his tutelage. He has a dynamic quarterback in Connor Bazelak, and appears to be assembling the other vital pieces together in order to win in the toughest conference in college football.

I really like Sam Pittman, of Arkansas as well. And I was happy to learn that he is a big music fan, primarily country music, and plays the piano and guitar. He comes off as tough, hard working and thorough. A good teacher. He is a very good recruiter also. He said that recruiting comes easy to him. You don’t hear or find that in every coach.

Arkansas has been at the bottom of the West for many years but under Pittman’s leadership, I think it has begun its ascension up the daunting ladder that is the SEC West. Arky will surprise a few people in 2021.

And then is the man that will lead my Auburn Tigers forward after an highly successful run at his alma mater, Boise State. I am more excited about this hire than any in my 60 years of following Auburn Football very, very closely, and I’m talking about when the hire was made. Harsin is a winner. Big time. And, IMHO, he has the tools to succeed like this anywhere chooses to hang his hat, regardless of the circumstances he might find himself in. He has the vision, work ethic, discipline, know how, and “sticktoitiveness.” He also has that keen eye for detail and the ability to pull people together and lead them to “win.” Even in drag racing, as you may know.

Coach Harsin is a family man. It was of the utmost importance that his family would find it comfortable and be happy living down on the Plains. Auburn has exceeded his expectations in that area.

I believe that the Auburn Family will be proud every time that their team sets foot on the field and that the team will leave everything out there on that turf. Wins and losses? I think this team is capable of going 8-4 or even 9-3 with a bit of luck. And in time, it will win championships.

Now on to how I think the chips will fall in the SEC.

East

  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Kentucky
  4. Missouri
  5. Tennessee
  6. South Carolina
  7. Vanderbilt

West

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas A&M
  3. Auburn
  4. Ole Miss
  5. LSU
  6. Arkansas
  7. Miss State

My feeling is that this in finally Georgia’s year. Alabama Has to replace a lot in 2021. As I mentioned in a post on Facebook, and you have heard the term many times before (Fill in the blank) does not rebuild, it reloads. That is true of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. But Georgia is loaded to the gills, as well. They have the experience and talent at quarterback and at most every other position on the field. think they will light it up on offense. They always play great “D”. It should be a monumental SEC Championship game. Bama could certainly win it, but in the end, the Georgia Bulldogs will weigh in as 2021 SEC Football Champions.

Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor.

And War Damn Eagle!

Iron Bowl Musings: The Auburn-Alabama Game

Here are some random thoughts and memories on the “Auburn-Alabama” game from my vantage point.

There’s nothing like the first time. You’ve often heard that phrase, I’m sure. But it does ring true. Thanksgiving Day 1964. Me and my daddy, my brother, Jerry, and my cousin, Richard in our 1963 Plymouth Fury headed for Legion Field. I doubt I slept that week. We stopped at the Twix and Tween BBQ joint, in Centreville, on the way to Birmingham.

It was the first season of the new upper deck on the east side of the stadium. Daddy and Jerry sat there. Richard and I sat in the north end zone. Alabama scored its first touchdown on a high punt snap in that end zone, right in front of us. David Ray missed the extra point. Tucker Frederickson went over the top for the only other TD of the first half. The extra point was good. AU 7-6 at the half.

Unfortunately Ray Ogden ran the opening kickoff of the second half 107 yards for a score. He came out of “our” end zone and took it southward. Bama converted the two point attempt. 14-7, Tide.

Later in the half, Joe Namath hit Ray Perkins, in stride, and he went untouched into “our” end zone. Alabama led 21-7. Auburn scored late in the game on a pass form Tom Bryan to Jimmy Sidle as he was playing wingback due to an injury on his throwing shoulder. 21-14 was the final score as the tigers failed to recover the onside kick.

I went down to the field, as was the custom of many a young boy in those days. It was allowed. But, at Legion Field, we were only allowed to encircle the fence. I waited at the gate where my beloved Tigers exited the field to their dressing room under the north end zone stands. I patted Frederickson as he strode through the gate with a somber look on his face. “Good game, Tucker!”, I told him. He looked at me and smiled.

I will never forget that day, nor any of the other Iron Bowl Saturdays I’ve experienced.

I have attended 41 Auburn-Alabama games over the years. My record is 19 wins and 22 losses. We will continue to gain in the win column as we don’t go to T-Town any longer. The last one was in ’08 and it was a nightmare. A 36-0 rout that broke Auburn’s 6 game winning streak. Just games at Jordan-Hare now. We hope to break even anywhere from 5 to 10 years from now. “Keep on the sunny side…”

Now that I think of it, we haven’t seen Auburn lose one, in person, since 2011. Another debacle. 42-14. We did not attend the 2015 game, in Auburn, which Alabama also won, 29-13.

The most memorable game in Iron Bowl history? That depends on which team you pull for. There are a long line of highly memorable games in which Auburn was the victor. There was “Punt, Bama, Punt” in ’72. “Bo over the top” in ’82. “Reverse to victory” in ’86. “11-0, Nix to Sanders” in ’93. The “Kick Six” in 2017 and last year’s 48-45 heart stopper.

But THE most memorable one, IMHO, was the first time Alabama played in Jordan-Hare in 1989. There has never been one like it, before or since, and I don’t know think any college football game EVER has seen such an electric atmosphere. Incredible. Monumental. Astounding. Choose any superlative you like. Nothings compares. The Tiger Walk? Merciful Lord! Grown men crying. Players hyperventilating. And Coach Dye’s pregame speech which I’ve heard about. Bill Curry was confident Alabama was going to win. it was 10-0 and ranked number two in the country. I don’t give a hoot if it had been 20-0 and beaten every opponent by no less than 28 points per game, NOBODY was going to beat Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium on December 2, 1989. It was not going to happen, I knew it as well as I knew my name. 30-20, and it wasn’t as close as the score indicated. I never thought I’d see the day, but danged if it didn’t happen. And both sides can thank Pat Dye for that. It was one of the best things ever to happen in the series, moving the game to each team’s campus. There were some great memories made at Legion Field, but it was no neutral site and the the only thing that made the atmosphere as good as it was, was the 50/50 ticket split. That was an awesome sight seeing half the stadium in burnt orange and navy blue and half in crimson and white. And the pom poms just a shakin’!

Now, we have to get this thing back around to 2020. It is truly strange this year. Auburn will play three more games, hopefully, after the Iron Bowl. Alabama could very well play more than that.

Nick Saban will not be on the sideline. He will be watching from his living room. Say what? NO communication with his team or coaches, per the rules. Oh well. I will miss seeing him on the sidelines and I love it when he pitches a fit. But, “the hay is in the barn” and Coach Sark will lead them well, I have no doubt.

Auburn is “extremely excited” about this one, so I’ve heard. I think they are ready and the Crimson Tide will get our best shot. I do expect Auburn to try to run the football and control the clock on offense. It will have to take at least 4-6 deep shots. If Tank Bigsby is limited or out then that will really hurt Auburn. Shivers and D.J. Williams are good but Tank is special. Bo will have to be at the top of his game and get the ball in the hands of his best playmakers ( Seth and Schwartz and Stove. Pegues, Fraser and Shenker at tight end.)

Defense? Pray I guess. I’m glad I’m not Kevin Steele having to prepare for this onslaught. I am very happy Auburn has Kevin Steele, though. Three man rush with eight back? Timely blitzes? You can’t get caught on an island with that ultra-talented receiving corps. Even if Waddle is out, that is an enormously gifted bunch. Najee? watch out!

There are enough sources for you to read about strategy. The game line. Stats and facts. We shoot the breeze here on SEC football at Bird’s Banter.

And so, a pick. I almost always pick Auburn to win because I never expect it to lose. Bama is a 24 point favorite and rightly so. The game is a home game for them. They are undefeated and even if they lose this one, the SEC Championship game with Florida remains. Alabama will move the football and score some points. No way around that. Can Auburn keep up like it did last year? I don’t know. I do know it will have to have help on special teams and on defense. Like those two pick sixes last year. Or a blocked punt. Ya’ think?

What I do think is that this will be a very close game into the second half, hopefully the fourth quarter. If it is, then Auburn has a chance. The visitors will leave everything on the field. They will have nothing to be shamed of. But, Alabama has a better football team and will prevail and pull away a bit at the end. Alabama 38, Auburn 24.

“Leonardish” columns are put to bed now. COVID threw us off the beam for a couple of Saturdays. Mild cases, though, and for that we are ever so thankful. Just me and Mel on Thanksgiving Day as we had our family deal this past Sunday. Here’s hoping you and yours have a glorious Thanksgiving and a great Iron Bowl.

War Eagle or Roll Tide. Whichever way your bread is buttered.

And, stay safe out there and be sure to love your neighbor as yourself!

Hocus Pocus Focus: SEC Football Predictions

BOOOOOO!!! Insert maniacal laugh here, . This week’s slate of SEC football games falls on October 31st. Halloween. I’m scared already! The horror of losing conference games is enough. Throw in a few witches, ghouls, ghosts, and goblins, and we have a bubbling cauldron of fear that could get one shaking in their shoes.

Tennessee and South Carolina do not take the field on Satday. That could work out to be an advantage. Don’t play. Can’t lose. Six squads will lose on Satday. Also, six squads will win. “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life.” If you go off into the shadows, you don’t know what’s lurking there and you could become another ingredient in said bubbling cauldron of turnovers, dropped passes, high snaps, and blew gaskets. Makes me shiver to think about it.

Now, I’m going to open my trunk of prognosticating treats for you. Guaranteed winners on every pick and a big sack of Dum Dums for the bone-headed mistakes and coaching guffaws that are bound to transpire Satday.

Georgia (-16.5) vs. Kentucky

The Mildcats return to the friendly confines of Kroger Field, (Price check on aisle four!) after being out-felined in Columbia, MO. The Bullies were, meanwhile, back in Clarke County Georgia being groomed and well fed for its trip to the bluegrass. There is a reason the Dawgs are heavy favorites. They have a much better football team. Mark Stoops certainly hopes the Kitties return to the back to back win form displayed before that loss out in the midwest. Return to that form or not, Kirby Smart has a passel of pups that will pound home team. Georgia 31, Kentucky 13.

Ole Miss (-16.5) vs. Vanderbilt

If any SEC team is a three score underdog to the Rebs then it must be woeful. Woeful, waffle, whatever, you’re bad. Really bad. The Land Sharks have many issues also. That defense is as porous as a colander. The quarterbacks seem to complete as many passes to the opponent as they do to their own players. And the coach has been told to go sit in the corner with a time out. I can’t say that I blame ol’ Lane (Joey Freshwater) Kiffin. I have a pathological aversion to authority myself. But I don’t have $25,000 to pay for running my trap. Yessir, Mr. Sankey! I promise to do better Mr. Sankey. Back to the good news for Old Mrs. The opponent is Vandy. I don’t care if the game is played in NashVegas of the North Pole. Automatic W! Ole Miss 45, Vanderbilt 21.

Mississippi State vs. Alabama (Name the spread. Hit don’t matter.)

These Bullies are going to get a bigger butt whuppin’, down in T-Town, than I did in first grade when I keep making trips to the cloak room, during one rest period in the winter, and emerging with a new coat, cloak and/or cap on each successive round. Yep! Made a “D” in conduct that six weeks. I wonder why I didn’t receive an “F” ? There’s that pathological aversion to authority! Oh well, I made an “A” under my second grade teacher, Miss Bunnie Dale, who I loved dearly, on every report card. My hippie ethic at work, as well. Peace and love to all my brothers and sisters, and stick it to the man every chance you get. Where did the football discussion get off to? This ain’t a football game. It’s a public execution. Name the score. Ok! I will. Yes, the Thundering Pachyderms are a 30.5 favorite. And yes, they will cover. And here’s some advice to the Pirate. Nickydemus is a comin’! YOU hade better RUN for cover! Alabama 52, Miss State 17.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (-12)

Now, this one has the makings of a sho’ nuff contest. Kyle Field. College Station, TX, where the COVID rules are not enforced and no one is fined. Don’t you feel lonesome, Lane? Sam Pittman has his Hawgs playing with great ferocity and the 12th Man better have his chinstrap fastened tightly. The temptation is to pull the trigger on the upset of the week, but that is coming later. A certain scrap is in store in Tejas. I’ll go with Kellen Mond over Felipe (Beans And) Franks. Texas A&M 30, Arkansas 24.

Missouri vs. Florida (-12.5)

The Water Lizards haven’t played in two weeks and that could mean they will be a bit rusty on Satday. Meanwhile, The MOCats spent this past Satday puttin’ the wood to ol’ Kanetuck. The Swamp is a seriously tough place to pick up a “W”. The Alleygators have also been victim to quite a few cases of COVID and that lack of practice time could really exacerbate matters too. The home team will be chomping to get back in the win column, but Eli (I think I’ll have anutter Drinkwitz you) has his boys well oiled and on the same page. That defense has been quite stingy. Smilin’ Dan’s D has been giving up points in droves. Upset Special of the week! Missouri 34, Florida 30.

LSU (-3) vs. Auburn

The Gus Bus has had its blew gasket fixed and returns to the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium on Satday after a scintillating victory over in the Magnolia State. These Fighting Felines now have a Tank out in front of that bus and Bo Nix had his highest completion percentage, while on the Plains, and a superb QB rating last weekend. Coach Ed (Yaw Yaw Yaw Football) Orgeron got his Bayou Bengals back on the fast track down in Red Stick, last Satday, by plucking the Roosters that embarrassed Auburn two weeks ago. Comparative scores can get one in trouble if one is looking for an angle by which to come up with a winner. I learned that as a mere lad down in Lower Alabama. Each and every week comes with a clean slate in the Southeastern Conference. No doubt, the visitors lit it up and gained some confidence and momentum, but the defense is having some terrible troubles slowing down the opposition. The home team’s defense is the only one yet to have given up 30 points in the SEC. It won’t do that this week either. In a mild upset. Auburn 34, LSU 27.

I hope all y’all good folks survived Zeta in pretty good shape. We were lucky here at 116 Sundown Way. Just a lot of wind, rain, and fallen leaves.

And, once again, I remind you that every week’s picks are an homage to the late, great Leonard Post Toastie.

Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor as yourself.

Peace out!

SEC Football: Reelin’ But Still Rockin’

The Smart Pill Machine is back up and running! But! (and everybody’s got a big but) at only about 85%. Football, as we have known it in the past, is gone and it will never be the same. I don’t need a smart pill to understand that. The Corona Virus has wreaked havoc across our nation and our world and we’ve just got to make the doggone best of it.

At least we have football, and a World Series, which I don’t give a hoot about now that our Bravos have been eliminated. But Bravo for the Bravos! Well done in 2020! That is quite an accomplishment!

Now back to football, SEC style. There are only four games on the conference schedule this week as six teams have drawn a bye this round. It appears that all four contests, with the possible exception of Bama-Tennessee, could be very exciting clashes. The Vols and Crimpsons could be interesting if Coach Jeremy “Cornbread” Pruitt decides to fire someone again during the game. Coach Pat Dye used to fire at least one person most every week, but it never resulted in them having to leave the squad immediately.

So, without further adieu, here we go! Haw!

Alabama (-21.5) vs. Tennessee

In the arena named after General Neyland. CBS, along with Brad Nessler and everybody’s favorite, Gary Danielson, will be broadcasting this event. That is what this great rivalry used to be, an event that took place on the Third Saturday in October. It ain’t been an event in quite a few years and often it is not played on that third Satday any longer. What would Bear Bryant and Johnny Majors think about all that? Won’t be much suspense either as ol’ Rocky will be topped in a big way by Nick Saban’s Thundering Pachyderms. Alabama 44, Tennessee 20.

Kentucky (-5.5) vs. Missouri

Coach Mark Stoops’ troops have been on a tear here recently and one could easily expect the same out in the Show Me state this weekend. But as Coach Lee Corso is want to say, “Not so fast, my friend.” Coach Eliah, I think I’ll have anutter drinkwitz you, has his fold of Felines playing pretty darn salty. Don’t forget they whupped those Bayou Bengals on this fine plot of turf back earlier in the season. We expect a humdinger out in Columbia. It sho’ could be a minor upset, but I’m sticking with the hot hand and going with the Felines from the bluegrass. Kentucky 27, Missouri 21

South Carolina vs. LSU (-6)

Football fans, we all know what happened in another Columbia, the one in the Palmetto State, last weekend. Coach Will Muschamp’s angry Cocks put one on Coach Gus Malzahn’s Kindly Kitties. They actually had the help of three interruptions, some poor clock management, a perplexing early two point conversion, and the limited use of a first year Tank. Bigsby, that is. But, by golly, the home team took it to ’em and came out with a much need victory. Congratulations to Coach Boom and his Roosters! I don’t know if this gang of Kitties from Red Stick are any better. We’s about to find out. Feathers and fur should be flying down on the bayou Satday night. It might not be pretty, but Coach,Yaw Yaw Yaw, Orgeron’s Football Felines need this one desperately. In a stinger. LSU 28, South Carolina 24.

Auburn (-3) vs. Ole Miss

The Gus Bus seems to have a blew gasket. And his buttocks could be burning up if he doesn’t find a way for his Kitties to return to the status of Fierce Felines. And he “butter” get his young ‘uns to stop running their traps and play some dang football! He sho’ can’t be cutting no koners this week in Oxford. The Lane Train, after a great effort against the Crimson Tide, seems to be running low on coal. His defense couldn’t slow down molasses in the winter and the offense certainly can be slowed down. And the best way to do that is to turn loose the Tank and give Bo a little time to communicate and connect with his receivers. Chuck a timely one here and there, and play like the aforementioned Pat Dye will be waiting for you in the locker room when it’s said and done. The Grove won’t be hopping and the fields of Faulkner won’t be what they normally are on Satday. Two years ago, when I saw that Auburn was actually favored over Ole Miss, I laughed like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. Stidham’s Stallions were looking mighty poorly at that point in the season. I thought Matt Luke’s Land Sharks should pull out the upset. But! Lo and behold! While we were eating ribs and having a toddy in Memphis, our boys in blue took it to ’em! I initially thought Auburn would squeak by USCe and lose to Misissipp’ in a high scoring affair. I have now changed my tune, as has the Smart Pill Machine. Deja vu all over again! Auburn 38, Ole Miss 31.

Well slap the dog and spit in the fire! That brings to a close another version of the SEC cotton picking prognostications. We might have an occasional stumble, but we think a lot mo’ better days lie ahead. Hug your sweetie and call your mama. Life is short. Also, be safe out there and love your neighbor as yourself.

Peace out!

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad SEC Football World!

The smart pills weren’t working quite as well last week as they were for the first weekend of action in SEC football. Yours truly went 4-3 after going 6-1 in week number one. Our grand total now tallies at 10-4, back door, for a .714 pct. That is not where this prognosticator wants to be, but it is where he finds himself as we bear down on weekend three of football in the Southeastern Conference.

And! I have the feeling that the 2020 season could just get crazier and crazier as the days grow shorter and the leaves continue to transform into a brilliant array hues. If crazy equals fun then we just might be on the verge of having a whole heap of fun.

To wit. Mississippi State throttles defending National Champion, LSU, 44-34. The Bullies then travel to Fayetteville, AR where they are stymied, 21- 14. These are the same Pigs that were overpowered, although they did show some signs of promise, by the other set of SEC Bullies, Gawja, 37-10. And then, the same LSU traveled to NashVegas where they slammed the Dores, 41-7. The same Dores who gave Texas A&M all manner of fits. And the Aggies turn around and score more points on Alabama than they did on the Dores. And, after, seemingly, regrouping from a less than inspiring first half against Kentucky, Auburn is humiliated by Gawja, 27-6. Whipped! Pummeled! Walloped! Madness!

Also, the last time I saw Bo Nix, he was sprinting as fast as he could down I-85 with a pack of frothing Dawgs on his heels. Madness!

Y’all wit me?

Enough chewing the fat. Let us git down to it! Kick start us, Percy!

Florida (-6.5) vs. Texas A&M

Both squads should come out with guns a blazin’. In the games the Gators have played both teams lit up the scoreboard thus far in 2020. The Water Lizards defense has been porous, allowing 35 and 28 points to Ole Miss and South Carolina, respectively. And after giving up 12 points to Vandy, the College Station Cadets surrendered a whopping 52 points to Alabama. Smilin’ Dan Mullen do know his offense, but Jimbo’s boys have been pretty darn average since his arrival in Aggieland, where this contest is to be played. Will ex semi-hole, Mr. Fisher, pick up his first signature victory since being given the keys to the vault out in Texas? Short answer. Nope! Florida 42, Texas A&M 30.

Missouri vs. LSU (-14.5)

Cat fight! Two groups of ferocious Felines will claw it out down on the bayou in Red Stick, LA on Satday night. It seems as though Coach Ed (Yaw Yaw Yaw Football!) Oregon “encouraged” his team to pick up the tempo (Hats off to Willie Nelson) last week, and they responded splendidly up in Music City, as mentioned earlier. The Show Me Cats were, once again, punished in game two, 35-12, at the hands of the Tennessee Vowels. It ain’t lookin’ good for Eliah (I’ll have anutter Drinkwitz you) in 2020, and the forecast is not sunny for the Kitties this week either. LSU 35, Missouri 17.

South Carolina (-13) vs. Vanderbilt

Something’s got to give back in NashVegas Satday morning. Neither of these two squadrons have posted a “W”, yet, this season. The Roosters and Anchormen both have coaches whose collective backsides could set the woods ablaze. But even a win here might not pacify the restless natives in Columbia and Nashville. Or do Vandy fans even get restless, like my feet do some evenings? Muschamp and Mason. More like Abbott and Costello. Hit ain’t working in either state. Eenee Menee Minee… Muschamp! The Cocks gets its 12th win in a row over West End Warriors. South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 13.

Tennessee vs. Georgia (-12)

Haw! This one has the potential to torch a barn! Well, a Barn was set a fire last week in Shrubville. And the Dawgies are back at home Satday at 3:30 ET (phone home). CBS is carrying this scrap and I know all you Gary Danielson fans will be excited bout dat! Buster Brown vs. Jeremy “Cornbread” Pruitt. The Moonshiners will be motivated and the Pups will be woofing it up in wait. Hot da mighty! Could be a stemwinder! Guess who has the longest winning streak in college football? The Volunteers. Guess who will hold that distinction Satday night? I don’t know. The streak is snapped. Georgia 27, Tennessee 17.

Alabama (-24) vs. Ole Miss

“Grove-in’, on a Satday afternoon. Really couldn’t getaway too soon”, could be what little Nickydemus might be singing when this one is over. You know Lane Kiffin, the pupil, will have some tricks up his sleeve for Saban, the teacher. I do expect a lot of fireworks from the Rebs and Pachyderms, but the Land Sharks will have to show up and slow the Crimpsons down to have any chance whatsoever. The Tide is rolling and will continue to do just that in Oxford on Satday night. Alabama 51, Ole Miss 28.

Mississippi State vs. Kentucky (-2.5)

Dadgummit! ($1 to Bobby Bowden, to whom we wish a speedy and complete recovery from COVID-19). Mark Stoops’ Felines have had some really tough luck after just two games. three turnovers killed them at Auburn and a missed extra point and some shenanigans got them beat at Kroger Field, in Lexington, last week. The Cats will be back in the friendly? confines os Supermarket Stadium Satday, and they might need a little luck to help them with these other Bullies. I just have to think the home town hosts will finally get that break on through to the other side and slam the “Doors” on the Maroons. Kentucky 31, Miss State 26.

Return with me now to the “Loveliest Village of the Plains.” (If you, too, cannot keep your eyes off the train wreck).

Arkansas vs. Auburn (-14)

Man, that last one still hurts like hemorrhoids! (Just try spelling that without looking it up.) But now it’s the Pussycats and the Tusks. And here we go. Or do we? Bewitched, bothered and bewildered. (While I’m tossing out $$, here’s one to Richard Rogers). Speaking of Rogers, we’re going to need Roy, Dale, Trigger (bless his taxidermied heart), Gabby Hayes and the whole gang if Auburn hopes to turn it around, it seems. Another truism is brought to mind. “Nothing is as good as it seems, and nothing is as bad as it seems. Somewhere in between reality.” (Lou Holtz). And that spanking over is Athens was about as real as it gets. A lot of folks want to fire the coach when a debacle like this comes along. And every armchair coach in America is bloviating in full force. I prefer to wait and see what transpires in this, what oftentimes seems like a nightmare, year of COVID-19, 2020. Haw! It ain’t been one for the faint of heart!

Coach Sam Pittman is going to have a bunch of believers with him at Jordan-Hare Stadium Satday afternoon. Them Hawgs will be ready for SEC victory number two. Will Auburn be ready for victory number two? I will not swear to it, but I have seen the men in burnt orange and navy blue do it before. Don’t get me wrong, these Piggies are not the Kansas City Chiefs. They should, though, be prepared to bring a determined bunch to the 20% filled arena. (20% ‘Twixt the Shrubs? Ya think?) No matter. Buckle up and be ready. It’s time to do some growing up. Don’t let Georgia beat you twice. Here’s thinking that will not happen. Auburn 30, Arkansas 17.

Once again, a bow to Leonard’s Post Toastie and Leonard’s Losers. And to being thankful we are able to enjoy some college football in these turbulent times.

If you cut any koners, just don’t get caught. And hoping no one has any blew gaskets.

Stay safe out there and be sure to love your neighbor!

Next week! Batman vs. Mr. Freeze!

Peace out!





SEC Football: Tigers and Dawgs and Hawgs! Oh My!

When I sat down to begin typing this work of art, the page in front of me was not blank. It contained this question, “What’s on your mind?” Thus, we begin with an easy answer to a simple question, that being, Georgia. Georgia has been on my mind, seriously, this week, but maybe not as much as other weeks and other times.

My bride and I have been occupying our minds, to a great degree, with hotels, restaurants, wine, food, and all sorts of good things as we ease into October. We have been in the mountains of north Georgia, with stays in Young Harris, never saw Old Harris, and Helen. Octoberfest is in full swing in Helen.

We had never been there during this fun and festive event. The crowds were not large during the week, but I expect they will be this weekend. Masks! “Distance! How can the wind with its arms all around me…” Thought I’d toss in an obscure song lyric there. From the group, Yes. The song? Perpetual Change. I would suggest you play this song. And if you don’t have it, then, by all means, download it. Great music!

OK! Mind off schnitzel and on to SEC football! YeeHaw!

Last week, your tour guide on all things SEC hit six out of seven, darn those Bullies, but congratulations to head coach Mike Leach and his troops! Big upset in Red Stick! Anyway, six of seven translates into an .857 percentage. Not too shabby. Last season I hit right at .800. and that is our goal! I win! You win! We all win, except the losers.

And now let us gaze into the crystal ball, actually I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do own an Eight Ball. No! Not THAT kind, the kind you snort. The one that you ask yes and no questions to, and get cute little answers. I asked the Eight Ball if Auburn was going to beat Kentucky. She replied, “It is decidedly so.” Bingo! I picked Auburn.

It’s so easy! (“To fall in love…”).

Let’s do dis!!!

And I will try to do better with where the games are to be played this week. I had LSU playing at State and Texas A&M at Vanderbilt last week. The two Vegases hosting those tests. Nope. But THIS week both Stark and Nash are at home. Sends shudders throughout your entire being to think of having to travel to Dudley Field, doesn’t it?

And Starkville? “What a lovely place…”, the Eagles might sing.

Did I say, “Let’s do dis?” Sho nuff did!

Now, in the order in which the games are to be played!

South Carolina vs. Florida (-17.5)

Dan Mullen’s Water Lizards play host to Will Muschamp’s Roosters and the South Carolina coach’s fanny is decidedly warm. That loss to the Vowels, last Satday, set the Cocks off on the wrong foot in a big way. The Swamp is no place to cool off one’s hind end either. There won’t be tens of thousands of fans on site, but it won’t matter. They could play this one on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and the result would be the same. Alleygators it is! Florida 41, South Carolina 20.

Missouri vs. Tennessee (-12)

Eliah (I’ll have anutter Drinkwitz you) received a somewhat rude awakening into the world of SEC football. Alabama is a tough draw on one’s first foray into the conference. But, the Kitties covered! Will they do so this week? We shall see. Jeremy “Cornbread” Pruitt would love to have over 100,000 moonshine swilling hillbillies a rockin’ and a hollerin’ in Neyland Stadium. That ain’t happnin’ with COVID-19 on the loose. But the Rocky Tops should do just fine with ole Joey Guantanamo Bay slinging it around the yard. Tennessee 34, Missouri 21.

Texas A&M vs. Alabama (-18)

Jimbo’s Infantrymen had quite a tussle with Derek Mason’s Anchorboys last Satday. And if they play that way again this week, they will get kicked in the Semi-Hole. And Mr. Fisher knows all about those. Nick Saban’s Proud Pachyderms will be roarin’ and stompin’ over in T-Town and don’t look for them to have a letdown this Satday. The Aggies should play better than they did last week, but it won’t be enough to upset the Crimpsuns. Alabama 34, Texas A&M 17.

Ole Miss vs. Kentucky (-6)

This one is closed to the Publix, but Kroger Field is the site and the hometown Fighting Felines had better brace for an aerial onslaught form “Stay in your” Lane Kiffen and the Black Bears of Oxford, Mississipp. An upset could be in the making if Mark Stoops doesn’t have his squad primed and focused. Three turnovers got the Cats beat last Satday down on the Plains and there can’t be no fumbling around this week if they are going to take home the victory. Kanetuck should be fiercely clawing to redeem themselves this week. Kentucky 38, Ole Miss 28.

Arkansas vs. Mississippi State (-17)

All the Bullpups did last week was set a new SEC record for yards passing with well over 600 of them against the Paper Tigers. Rrrrrr! Leach the Pirate has ’em taking flight down in StarkVegas and Sam Pittman has ’em playing better in Hawgtown, it seems. They did lead the other set of Bullpups at the half, 7-5. More on those Dawgies in a few moments. Look for more fireworks, Satday, from QB Costello and Company. The Maroons should be able to pound the pups into submission. Mississippi State 42, Arkansas 24.

LSU (-21) vs. Vanderbilt

Now, let us move forward to NashVegas. You can bet the Bayou Bengals are a lickin’ its wounds after getting air raided in the friendly confines of Death Valley. Vanderbilt should prepare to play host to a very angry and highly motivated set of Felines this week. New defensive coordinator, Ted “Leaky” Roof, should be proud of his defense for holding the Aggies to just 17 points and the Commodores ought to be inspired in knowing last season’s National Champs can be had, but they won’t be this Saday. LSU 27, Vanderbilt 10.

And on to the BIG ONE!

Auburn vs. Georgia (-7.5)

Tigers and Dawgs! Twixt The Hedges! Number 4 versus number 7! Both teams needing to run the football more effectively. Both defenses pretty darn salty last week! What’ll it be Satday night!? Buster Brown better have them on their P’s and Q’s at 7:30 PM ET. Gus will have the Bus lubed up and rollin’ into Athens. Gawja has had the upper hand faaaaar too long in this, The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Isn’t it strange to be saying that in early October??? Something’s got to give. Kirby would be smart to have his great D set the tone for this one. Keep the ball away from Bo and Co. And yes, the quarterback position will be oh so important when these highly ranked teams take the field at Sanford Stadium. Gus has a good ‘un and Kirby is searching for the right one. Look for defensive prowess and a real donnybrook on Satday night! Chad Morris should open things up a bit and have that air game in better rhythm. Look for more tosses to backs and tight ends and the running game to be a little nastier. Nasty enough for the visitors from East Alabama to pull of the “upset.” It’s time! Auburn 24, Georgia 20.

That’s it for this week! Take us out of here, Percy!

Stay safe out there and be sure to love your neighbor as yourself!

Peace out, peeps!



SEC Football vs. The Corona Virus

In a steel cage! And after falling behind early the SEC has jumped out to a big lead! Beginning Sep-TEM-ber 26th! In a Southern state near you! Be there! Oops! Delete. I won’t be there and neither will you, most likely. The folks in Vegas just might, somewhere, have a line on when and where or IF the gates will open, to any degree, to the public. Place your bets!!!

To quote the band nearest and dearest to my heart, the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been!” Ya reckon’!!! 2020 has been one for the ages, to say the very least. I think I can safely say to each and every one of you of you friends and passionate followers of the Southeastern Conference, and even if you’re not, 2020 has been trying in a multitude of ways we could never have imagined. My thoughts and prayers go out to you all.

Ok, before I get too sappy, let us get down to the ever so important business at hand. College football. Hallelujah! It is here! I can picture Gene Wilder from the sidesplittingly humorous motion picture, Young Frankenstein. “It’s ALIVE! It’s ALIVE! It’s ALIVE!” Maybe not in all of its glory, but in enough of it to light my fire (a nod to The Doors).

Let’s pick ’em!

Florida (-13.5) vs. Ole Miss

The *Water Lizards will be writhing in anticipation as they await the arrival of a sparkling new, young coach who now heads up the home team from Old Mississipp’. The highly imaginative Lane Kiffin will, no doubt, bring a full arsenal of firepower into Gainesville, but Dan Mullen, also once a head coach in the Magnolia State, will be ready for it. You can count on it. His squad is not ranked number five for no reason. Many, including yours truly, have picked the Gators to unseat The Peach State Pups as champions of the ever improving SEC East. Florida 37, Ole Miss 20.

LSU (-16.5) vs. Mississippi State

Here is another intriguing matchup to take place within the borders of the great state of Mississippi. StarkVegas and her version of bull pups will play host to the defending NCAA National Champions. And they also have a sparkling new, but not so young, head coach in Mike Leach. The Pirate will be spinning tales and plotting an overthrow of the Bayou Bengals. Son/daughter, that is a tall order and certainly a not the game one would champion as an upset special. Coach O’s aggregation has lost a plethora of players to the NFL and COVID but remain quite talented. This could be a tight one for a bit, but no dice on the upset. LSU 31, Mississippi State 16.

OOPS 1! Sorry, the Tyguz do not get to make the trip to beautiful Starkville. This one is in Baton Rouge. How did I “fumble” on this? Beats me. My wife says I’m getting old. Don’t believe her. Well, I ain’t no spring chicken anymore! That’s for shore! You just have to shrug your shoulders and laugh sometimes. War Eagle!

Georgia (-27.5) vs. Arkansas

Speaking of sparkling new head coaches, we’ve got ourselves another up in the Ozarks of The Natural State. Sam Pittman, oddly enough, spent the past four seasons (Oh, how I sometimes miss one of my other lifetimes, as a Field Inspector for AAA, with perks like evaluating/staying at facilities such as the Four Seasons) on the UGA sideline as offensive line coach. Coach Pittman may or may not get it done in Fayetteville, but I’ll betcha the Piggies will be snortin’ to go Satday. No matter. Kirby Smart’s Bulldawgies are far too talented for the Hawgs and will prevail by a goodly margin. Georgia 38, Arkansas 10

Alabama (-27.5) vs. Missouri

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Missouri’s Mildcats also have, say it with me, a sparkling new head coach in, this isn’t easy, Eliah Drinkwitz. As in, after one has spent too many hours at a bar and throwing them back with a friend, “I think I’ll havz anutter drinkwitz you. ” Hoo hoo, mercy! Eliah might be longing for the beautiful vistas of Boone, NC, where he was the head coach at Appalachian State after getting pounded into submission by the Pachyderms. The most interesting aspect of the clash could be just how hard and heavy Nick Saban wants his Tide to roll out in Columbia, MO. And it will. Alabama 42, Missouri 9

Texas A&M (-31) vs. Vanderbilt

Another Vegas hosting a football game this week. And this one’s first name is Nash (Remember Nash Bridges? I don’t. But I never watched Miami Vice either. No disrespect to Don Johnson.) Jimbo Fisher (Jim Morrison’s moniker with his bandmates, when he was drinking, was Jimbo), marches his troops eastward to the Capital of Tennessee. I would advise him, his boys, and Aggie fans not to partake of beer or wine, by the glass, in downtown Music City as there is now a 23% additional tax on those beverage servings. No, greed is not good, Gordon Gecko. And here would be a place to remind all of you playing at home to have the Google app close to you if you’re not picking up on all my silly references. Ok, those few tidbits will be infinitely more interesting, and certainly more entertaining, than the thrashing the Commodores will receive on Satday night. Texas A&M 41, Vanderbilt 12.

OOPS 2! What’s up with the “Vegas” games. No, this one will be played in College Station. But wasn’t all the Nashville stuff fun? You wouldn’t have been warned about that 23% by the drink tax had I not screwed this one up!

Tennessee (-3.5) vs. South Carolina

Jeremy Pruitt will lead the Volunteers into another Columbia this Satday. This particular one is in the Palmetto State. And we should probably see one of the better games of the day with Will Muschamp’s Cocks providing some stiff competition. It’s getting to be put up or shut up time down in Car-o-line. Part of me really wants to pick the home team, but I think the Vols will manage to escape this trap. Tennessee 24, South Carolina 21.

Tot da da daaaaaah!!!! Hit’s the big one, Aunti M! At least in the mind of your humble pundit.

Kentucky vs. Auburn (-7.5)

Yes! From the Loveliest Village of the Plains! The only SEC contest with two ranked teams in action! It’s a Feline Fest, to be sure, as Gus Malzahn’s eighth ranked Auburn Tigers do battle with Mark Stoops’ Wildcats! HAW! And if you don’t think this is a dangerous game with a potential upset lurking in the shadows, then you had better think again. The visitors bring an experienced, talented, and physical football team into Jordan-Hare Stadium in the the first SEC game of the 2020 season. Hitch ’em up and buckle ’em down. We’re looking at one Keith Jackson would describe as a “dandy!” Auburn, quite frankly, is loaded at the skill positions, and sophomore quarterback, Bo Nix, has emerged as a driven, motivated, and vocal leader on this, Malzahn’s eighth edition of the Auburn Tigers. The big question is whether or not the O line can get it done. They are talented and experienced, despite what some others might say. They just haven’t played together yet as a unit and need time to jell. That could spell for some bumps in the road in this game which is also a morning kickoff. The defense could be better than last season. That might come as a surprise to many. But make no mistake. There is a great deal of talent, and some depth and experience, on the front seven. They should hold up nicely. And the secondary is VERY talented with some good depth there also. Kicking game? Rock solid with the return of Anders Carlson, great return men, and highly capable punters. The Tigers are my sleeper to make the playoffs and if that is to have even a remote chance of happening, or to at least win the West, then it has to start on Satday. It will. Auburn 27, Kentucky 20.

There you have it, sports fans! Your guide to fortune and fame. As Jeff Schultz, formerly of the AJC, used to say “I’ve provided you with all the winners. All you have to do is find them.”

Stay safe out there and be sure to love your neighbor as yourself!

P.S. You don’t want to wind up with a blew gasket or a cut koner! (Hint. See last year’s columns).

P.S.S. The * inserted above, in the column and preceding the term Water Lizards, denotes a term, and not the only one, I stole from Leonard Post Toasties, as I did in 2019, of Leonard’s Losers. Every column is a tribute to Leonard. Other than the games and the tailgating, Leonard’s Losers was the thing I looked most forward to on fabulous fall weekends in the South. Peace out!

P.S.S.S. Here is my blog on how the SEC will play out, both the East and West.

https://birdlecroy.com/2020/09/18/whos-ready-for-some-sec-football/