SEC Football: Week Seven Picks

It’s me! Ernest T! That was the first thing that popped into my head when I sat down to do this thing. Speaking of Andy Griffith, if you’ve never heard his comic masterpiece, ”They Call It Football,”do yourself a favor and give it a listen. Hey, listen again even if you have heard it. And, I would pay to listen to a college football prediction podcast hosted by Howard Sprague and Floyd the barber. They could have some guest pickers each week. Andy, Barney, Gomer, Goober, Otis. Heck, the could have Helen and Thelma Lou on as special guests one week. “Hey, Barn! Who’ve you got in the Kentucky-Georgia game? It’s between the hedges. Georgia minus 21 and a half.” And that brings us to week seven picks!

Auburn at Arkansas (-5)

It’s the first game of a CBS double header. The betting has been heavy, heavy on the Pigs. This is a critical game for both teams. Auburn controls its own destiny. Win out and you’re in Hotlanta. Might sound far-fetched but it’s true. Arky has struggles against the run. Run the football. If Auburn can do that and hits a few explosive plays, then it wins. IMHO. The Felines have won five-in-a-row in the series. The Razorbacks will be primed for this one. Back home after getting their butts whipped. Twice. They’ll be mad. Mad won’t be enough. Auburn 27, Arkansas 24.

Florida (-11.5) at LSU

An 11 AM kickoff in Red Stick. The stadium will be half empty and not terribly noisy. The Cajuns are mad too. They want a new coach. It’s a hot mess down on the Bayou. The corn dogs are stale. The gumbo is flat. The Water Lizards have had their issues as well. Dapper Dan will have a plan. I don’t think it’ll go down to the wire. The Swampers, not the Muscle Shoals guys, will be singing a victory tune after it’s said and done. Florida 37, LSU 20.

Texas A&M (-10.5) at Missouri

Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed…” The home towners can incorporate the state moniker into its song of defeat. That’s the short of it. The Aggies have been as high as Willie Nelson at the peak of one of his famous picnics since they beat Bama. We went to the 2003 Willie Nelson picnic. Speaking of high. The Dead also played opening night. They began with a long jam which morphed into a Sam Cook cover, “Get in the groove and let the good times roll. We’re gonna stay here till we sooth our souls, if it takes all night long.” Some dude, in front of us, in a cowboy hat and boots said, “Well, that group finally got through with their first song after an hour,” Yep. That’s The Dead. Texas A&M 34, Missouri 24.

Kentucky at Georgia (-21.5)

Cats and Dawgs. Benson and Hedges. Those were some long cigarettes. 101’s. “A silly millimeter longer.” I started on Winstons back when in ’69. I eventually worked my way over to Kools and later to Kool Milds before I quit in ’75. I don’t miss ’em. So much for the Bensons, back to the Hedges. Jawja at home. Jawja on the road. Don’t matter. Pups fared well on the road last week while Kanetuck was pounding what remains of LSU. The march to Hotlanta continues. Georgia 27, Kentucky 17.

Vanderbilt at South Carolina (-18)

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. YAAAAAWWWWWNNNNN! Cock a doodle do! Wake up! This is the Rooster! Prepare for your demise. South Carolina 34, Vanderbilt 17.

Alabama (-17) at Mississippi State

Alabama is coming off a loss. How often do you hear that? Alabama is coming off a loss. That’s more rare than a 1909 SVDB penny. Mike Leach will bring an Air Raid party to Dais-Wade Stadium in StarkVegas Saturday night. Leach was once asked, at a press conference, what was the best party he had ever been to. He said it was at the Flora Bama Lounge. Then he went on to explain this as only Mike Leach can do. I hope this game is as much fun as a party at the Flora Bama. I think it will be for a bit. But ultimately the Tide will roll, just like the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in LA. Alabama 34, Miss State 21.

Ole Miss (-2.5) at Tennessee

We were talking about tobacco back up the blog a piece. We spent six years in a dwelling on Cecil Keesling’s tobacco and cattle farm, about 20 minutes north of Nashville from midway1990 to midway 1996. He kept the tobacco hanging in a barn out there. One day my son Luke relieved some of the tobacco from its spot in the barn and took it to school to sell it. Luke also mowed the word Satan in our spacious lawn on the riding mower. We saw Cecil out there attempting to decipher the demonic code shortly thereafter. I don’t know if he cracked it or not. Three hours to the east of us was Knoxville. Home of the Tennessee Vols. Those Vols, as you have noted, are an underdog at Neyland Stadium. That’s where the Corn Liquor Crowd will play host to the Rebels of Old Mississippi. This should be one of the best games of the day. There will be a heap of points piled up on the banks of the Tennessee River Satday. That we do know. I call this little contest dead even. Turnovers and/or penalties could tell the tale. Another one of those shaky nods to… Ole Miss 45, Tennessee 42.

Dang Alabama! It’s game was the only one I missed last week. AND that was my lock. Those now stand at 3-3. Overall we’re at 48-15 for a .761 pct. My lock? Auburn plus 5. “Winstons taste good like a cigarette should. Winstons taste good like a (pat pat) cigarette should!” Well slap the dog and spit in the fire! It’s time to get outta here. You know what to do. Love your neighbor. Drive safely. And if you feel an overwhelming urge to speak in unknown tongues, just let her rip. Peace out!

SEC Football: Week Five Picks

Here we are again, sports fans! A huge Saturday of SEC football, biggest week of the season! I hit my lock last week, Arkansas plus the 5.5, versus Texas A&M. 3-1 on those locks. And that’s 75% if you’re not doing the math at home. Also picked Arky to win the game, which they did. Totals now stand at 37-11 for a .770 pct. Time’s a wastin’! Let’s roll!

Arkansas at Georgia (-17.5)

The Piggies have been kickin’ butt and taking names. The Puppies haven’t been slack themselves. You have to score the most points to win the game. Georgia doesn’t give up many points at all. The home team will score more points than the visitors in this one. But not 17.5 more. My lock of the week. Razorbacks +17.5. Georgia 27, Arkansas 14.

Tennessee at Missouri (-2.5)

Even though the Vowels got beat by Florida, and it was 38-14, they did some good things and showed some promise. The Kitties lost a tough one at Boston College. The same BC (4-0) that Clemson best have its big boy britches on for in Death Valley. Rocky Tops fight hard but come up short. Missouri 34, Tennessee 28.

Ole Miss at Alabama (14.5)

The Lane Train will be full speed ahead in T-Town Satday afternoon. The Crimpson Tide will be ready. You know ol’ Kiff will have a few tricks up his sleeve, but ol’ Nick has numerous five star athletes on his squadron. Alabama 45, Ole Miss 31.

Troy at South Carolina (-6.5)

The Roosters better not get too cocky this week or my dear old alma mater will return to Pike County with a big fat “W” plucked from those fowl. Chip Lindsey’s Trojans will be primed for an upset. Another train, the Shane Train, will be steaming down the tracks at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC in one of those Cockabooses.. And it will be just a little too fast for the gents from the wire grass. South Carolina 24, Troy 20.

Florida (-7.5) at Kentucky

Oh Danny Boy, the Cats are calling… and they will be wild Saturday night at Kroger Field. I hear Gator is on sale at the local stores in Lexington. If the Water Lizards aren’t hitting on all eight, they will suffer SEC loss Numero Deux on the 2021 season. In a thriller… Florida 31, Kentucky 27.

Mississippi State at Texas A&M (-7)

Jamesbo cannot generate any offense out in Aggieland. Mike the Pirate will be air raiding with his Bullpups. Coach Fisher does have a good defense and one whale of a home crowd. That should be enough to topple the visitors. Texas A&M 27, Mississippi State 23.

UConn at Vanderbilt (-14.5)

The NashVegas gang is bad. The Huskies are worse. One of, if not THE worst in the FBS (1A). This could be uglier than Frankenstein’s Daughter on a bad night. You saw it right. The Dores are favored by 14.5. When on God’s green earth were they last favored like that? Haw! Maybe the last chance for a win on the Anchor Boys schedule. Vanderbilt 30, UConn 14.

Auburn at LSU (-3)

Mercy! Our Tigers. Their Tiguhs. Yaw yaw. 9 PM ET. Yaw yaw yaw! How will it geaux? Will it be T.J. or will it be Bo? This should turn from a rhyme fest to a slugfest. It will barn burning, humdinging, snot slinging, wild Saturday night in Red Stick. As former LSU head coach, Mike Archer, once said. “You can smell the bourbon from the field.” HooWee! Just before I pulled into Scott’s BBQ, in Cartersville, GA, where we have a Football Lunch every Friday around noon. Some Aubies. Some Dawgs. But all Cartersville Purple Hurricanes fans and boosters, except me. I’m a North Cobb Warriors guy who supports his wife’s place of employment for the past 25 years. I do pull for the Canes in their region. They continue to succeed as in the past glory years of hometown favorite, Trevor Lawrence. Undefeated. Anyway, a red light or two away from Scott’s, I finally thought I had this one picked. I don’t have a great deal of confidence for our boys in blue. And I thought I would pick LSU. (Still rhyming).But when I got into the Pig Palace and ordered, was given number 10. That’s Bo Nix. That’s Auburn. East Alabama’s Plainsmen from Lee County in a mild upset. A shaky nod to… Auburn 27, LSU 20.

It’s been good jawing at y’all again. I love me some Football Fridays and cannot wait until noon Saturday! SEC Football!!! Pick that lock. Settle in. Kick back. Read away. Share. Love your neighbor. And be safe on our nations highways and byways. Peace out!

SEC Football: Week Four Picks

It’s officially fall and the SEC football schedule is really getting into the heart of conference play. There are eight games on the docket with one team, Ole Miss, getting its bye week. Good thing. The Rebs travel to Tuscaloosa next weekend. They will appreciate the rest before what should be a dandy. Let’s wade right in!

Georgia (-35) at Vanderbilt

No matter if it’s in NashVegas or Athens. The Dores are going to get plastered. That’s what a great number of fans will be doing on Friday night and into Saturday down on Broadway and its environs. If you happen to be in Music (Greed) City for the festivities and you are drinking wine or liquor by the glass, you have been forewarned that there is an extra 23% tax on those beverages. They might as well tax the points the visitors are going to score while they’re at it. It would be a goodly sum. Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 3.

LSU (-2.5) at Mississippi State

State got screwed last Satday in Memphis. Such is life. There’s not much satisfaction in the SEC office admitting the mistake. It didn’t change the outcome of the game. Felines and canines will be going at it in another Vegas. Stark, in this one. The line is close for a reason. It should be a very close contest. In a mild upset. Miss State 28, LSU 27.

Missouri (-1.5) at Boston College

From Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill. Yet another doozy in the making. More felines and also fowl in this Nooner. Eli Drinkwitz (You) has a high octane offense coming with him from Columbia, MO. He is in need of a stingy defense. BC is 3-0 and has scored a great many points itself. Can the SEC go into New England and return with a victory? Signs point to yes. Missouri 31, Boston College 28.

Texas A&M (-5.5) vs Arkansas

Whoa Nellie! The game of the week! Coming to you from Jerry World in Arlington, TX! I enjoyed trip to Jerry World and our win over Oregon two years ago in this venue. Enjoyed it muchly! I like the place better than Mercedes-Benz Stadium here in Hotlanta. One of my friends described MBS as utilitarian. That’s apt. And if you’re high in the upper level, you can forget observing the scoreboard hanging form the ceiling. I did sit in the Club Level for the 2018 Peach Bowl. That was better but the game was awful. Anyway, back to the 3:30 ET on CBS brawl. Hawgs and Aggies. I have to brag on Arky’s Sam Pittman every week, it seems, here at Bird’s Banter. He has them Piggies playing so very well. They will play well, again, Satday. Well enough to win, as a matter-of-fact. Upset number two! Arkansas 24, Texas A&M 21.

Georgia State at Auburn (-27)

Melodye did some online Master’s work from GA State a few years back. I asked her if she was conflicted this week. HaHa! As you guessed. No mixed emotions in what we hope is not a dandy. The Panthers, from the heart of downtown Atlanta, will make the short trip to the Plains for a big check and a butt-whoopin’. I doubt Hars will have much trouble getting the Tigers to focus. They have to want redemption from last weekend in Happy Valley. I do. And September 17th of 2022 is circled on every Aubie’s calendar when we return the favor. That “little ol’ eagle”, according to the GA State head coach, Shawn Elliot, is gonna fly high and proud. Auburn 48, Georgia State 13.

Tennessee at Florida (-19)

Mercy! Oh Danny Boy almost pulled off a huge upset of the Crimson Tide last week. But not unlike Auburn, close don’t count. Wasn’t that two point conversion attempt an unmitigated disaster? I’m certain the Vols will be primed for the task, but The Swamp ain’t no place to pick on the Water Lizards this week. Florida 38, Tennessee 21.

Kentucky (-5) at South Carolina

I’ve also been bragging on Bob Stoops recently. But danged if his Kitties didn’t go and almost lose to the Mighty Mocs of UT-Chattanooga last Satday. Haw! I do think the Kroger Field Kids will be MUCH more focused in Columbia, SC. The Cocks will crow and strut, yet fall short of an upset in Williams-Bryce Stadium, on the first official Saturday of autumn. Kentucky 34, South Carolina 27.

Southern Miss at Alabama (-45)

Forty five, smorty five. Reckon Nickydemus got somebody’s attention in practice this week? Oooo wee! Name the score. Alabama 49, Southern Miss 6.

The tally from week three was 10-2. Total to date, 31-9. Pct.? .794. Yes! We will get to 80%! I had my first missed lock last weekend. Had AU and the points. Shoulda hit. Shoulda woulda coulda. I look to get Auburn and my lock back in the “W” column this round. Take the Razorbacks plus the 5.5 and you will be a little richer come Saturday night!

And, as always, take care out there and love that neighbor. Peace out!

SEC Football 2021 : Round Two

Weeks Zero (whatever that means) and One are in the books now and the bell has sounded for Round Two. Things went very much according to form, last week, except LSU and Vandy let us down. There’s a storm brewing in the Bayou and in Music City matters appear to be grim at best. We have some interesting matchups this week. And without further adieu, let’s get right down to it.

South Carolina (-2) at East Carolina

The Roosters dispatched of a bad Eastern Illinois team last Saturday but the Pirates of ECU won’t be so giving. The home team could most definitely pull this one out. Shane Beamer and his minions win in a thriller that would make Michael Jackson proud. South Carolina 31, East Carolina 28.

Pittsburgh at Tennessee (-3)

Both the Panthers and the Vowels posted resounding victories last weekend. The opponents were U Mass and Bowling Green, respectively. ACC vs. SEC. And from this angle we see the Atlantic Coast visitors escaping Rocky Top with a hard fought win. Pitt 31, Tennessee 27.

Alabama State at Auburn (-49)

Your faithful forecaster foresees a game much similar to the one played down on the Plains last Satday. You can stir that Hornets nest all you like, but it won’t get them angry enough to overtake the home team. Bo Nix, Tank Bigsby, Owen Pappoe and company were exceedingly well-prepared for the opener and that will be the case again in this Noon ET kickoff. The Tigers have their way with the gang from down I-85 in Montgomery. Auburn 62, Alabama State 6.

Florida (-28.5) at USF

The Water Lizards will actually travel down the road a piece to Tampa to take on the Bulls. Raymond James Stadium will be filled with snorting and chomping as the instate schools clash. NC State had its way with the soon to be Steers a week ago and it won’t be any different this time around. Florida 44, South Florida 17.

UAB at Georgia (-23.5)

The Dawgs eked by Clempson in an old fashioned slugfest that would have made Danny Ford and Vince Dooley proud. Old school defense won that contest. There was not an offensive touchdown scored in the entire afternoon. 10-3 UGA. That lone TD came on a pick six. Bill Clark’s flaming Blazers will come ready to pop leather but Buster Brown’s boys have far too much talent for an upset to occur. Georgia 34, UAB 7.

Texas A&M (-17) at Colorado

The road will be rocky in Boulder for the home town Buffalos (one of yours truly’s favorite mascots). The Grateful Dead played some epic music at Folsom Field many years ago. The visiting Aggies will be truckin’ back to College Station with win number two after this interesting brawl with the Bisons. Texas A&M 34, Colorado 17.

Mercer at Alabama (No line)

The Crimson Tide easily disposed of a Hurricane that was reduced to a mild rainstorm in Hotlanta on Labor Day Weekend. Any questions about Bryce Young and his Pachyderm pals were answered with a bold statement something like, “Yes! We back and we baaaaad to the bone.” Nickydemus has been grousing about one half of football and rat poison and so forth this week in preparation for the upcoming massacre. And that is exactly what it is to be for the Baptist Bears. Alabama 55, Mercer 0.

Texas (-7) at Arkansas

An old Southwest Conference rivalry is renewed. Hawgs ‘n Horns. Hooker ‘n Heat. (That was a fine album, by the way.) The Bevos will be dipping their feet into SEC waters in a little test run of what’s to come. I think this one will be, yes, a dandy! The visitors are expected to win but you can bet ol’ Sam Pittman’s bunch will have Pig fans rootin’ and a hollerin’ at maximum level. This a is a mighty tempting upset pick but the Austinites will come away from Fayetteville with a hard won win. Texas 30, Arkansas 24.

NC State (-1) at Mississippi State

A barn burner in StarkVegas is what we are expecting at Davis-Wade Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Wolfpack slaughtered the aforementioned USF squad in game one. That won’t happen this time. The Bullpups managed to overcome a 20 point fourth quarter deficit and block a chip shot field goal, against LA Tech, and prevailed by the hair of its chinny chin chin. Pirate Leach’s canines won’t be so lucky this time Saturday. NC State 28, Miss State 27.

Austin Peay at Ole Miss (-34.5)

The Lane Train is going to be steam engine stout versus the Governors, who will be reduced to Black Bear brittle. No chance. Just sign the check, please, and get your foot off our Peay pickin’ throats! Corral and Company continue to cruise. Ole Miss 59, Austin Peay 17.

Missouri at Kentucky (-5)

One of the better games this week. Two teams jockeying for position in the SEC East. Both pretty darn good. The Cats were anything but mild last week as they manhandled UL Monroe. Well who wouldn’t? But let’s not trivialize that wopsided win in pursuit of some humor. Mark Stoops’ troops ain’t no kitties. They are for real and will prove that when they play the Tigers. Kentucky 34, Missouri 28.

McNeese at LSU (-38.5)

Speaking of Kitties. That’s what Coach Yaw Yaw’s squad looked like against UCLA out there at the Rose Bowl in the opener. Chip Kelly finally has the Bruins looking more like his former Oregon team at this point. The Bayou Bengals are more like last year’s team by comparison. It might be about to get ugly in Baton Rouge. Ed O’s son will be the starting quarterback for the Cowboys. Son, this is going to hurt me more than it is you. LSU 42, McNeese 10.

Vanderbilt at Colorado State (-7)

The Rams of Fort Collins could impress ewe in a late one Saturday evening. They certainly did not in their first game with South Dakota State. The Dores are awful. the home team is not much better but they are good enough to hold off an upset bid by Vandy. Colorado State 26, Vanderbilt 21.

Last week I compiled a 12-3 record for an .800 pct. Let’s get to 90 or 100 percent this time. My lock of the week was Auburn minus the 37 against Akron. 60-10 did the trick! This week, let’s go with Pitt plus three at Tennessee.

Once again, love y’all! Take care out there and love your neighbor as yourself. Peace out!

SEC Football vs. The Corona Virus: Part Deux

Yes, the title of my first prediction column one year ago was SEC Football vs. The Corona Virus. Well, here we are again. Only this time, the 2021 season, stadiums will be allowed to fill to capacity. Reminds me of my favorite Delbert McClinton song, ‘Every Time I Roll The Dice’. And that is exactly what we are about to do, beginning tonight with Bowling Green vs. Tennessee.

We press on. We do love our football down here in the South. Let’s hope and pray that these massive crowds do not exacerbate the spread of the Delta variant even worse than what is raging across the geographical area that comprises the Southeastern Conference, as we speak.

This will be the beginning of my 61st season attending, and rabidly following, college football. That 1961 homecoming game against Clemson, yea those many decades ago, seems like yesterday in some respects. Auburn won that contest and I was taken like a fish on a hook.

Last season was the first time I missed attending a game since 1986 when we lived way out yonder in California, a few miles after you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Rafael (pronounced rah-fell). You can read a bit about that experience right here on Bird’s Banter if you click back to the summer of 2014.

Hot diggity dank! Let’s do this thing once more with feeling! Onward to the week one SEC picks!

Bowling Green at Tennessee (-37)

Scott Loeffler (yes, that Scott Loeffler, who was Auburn’s offensive coordinator in 2012, Gene Chizik’s last season as Head Ball Coach at Auburn) leads his mighty Falcons into Neyland Stadium to face the Vols and new head man, Josh Heupel, he formerly of UCF. The Rocky Toppers will not be threatened as Tennessee will crush the visitors. The home team is not a great one but Bowling Green has been abysmal of late. Tennessee 49, Bowling Green 10.

UL Monroe at Kentucky (-31)

Our old bud, Terry Bowden, is now about to embark on his first season as coach of the Warhawks. I don’t know how they will fare in the remaining games on the schedule in 2021, but the Wildcats will pummel them in this Noon ET game Saturday. Mark Stoops has a very stout team on both sides of the ball and look for them to make a lot of noise in the SEC East this fall. Kentucky 45, UL Monroe 13.

Rice (hold the gravy) at Arkansas (-18.5)

Sam Pittman, now in his second season in Fayetteville, is building Arky back into respectability. Better watch out for the Hawgs. They will beat somebody that they’re not supposed to beat in 2021. They are supposed to fry Rice and they will certainly do just that. The fortune cookie says… Arkansas 38, Rice 14.

Alabama (-19.5) vs. Miami (in Atlanta)

Number one taking on number 14. You spell numbers one through ten and use numerals thereafter in sports writing. Although I very often stray from the AP Style Book. Traditional in some ways and marching to the beat of my own drummer in other ways. Sometimes Keith Moon and other times Charlie Watts (RIP). Beat the drum? Bama is the beat and Miami is the drum. Hurricane fans have been banging their gums a lot in the lead up to this clash. They will be silenced after keeping it relatively close in the first half. The Crimson Tide rolls to an impressive victory. Alabama 38, Miami 20.

Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State (-23)

The Pirate, Mike Leach, will have the other set of Bulldogs walking the plank in this 4PM ET game on the SEC Network. I don’t know who the head coach is at LA Tech and I’m too lazy to look it up. Don’t matter. That’s some homework for you fans to do. Miss State 42, Louisiana Tech 17.

Central Michigan at Missouri (-14)

Eliah (can I have a) Drinkwitz (you) enters his second campaign out there in Columbia, MO. I was very impressed with him at SEC Media Days. The Tigers are another team to beware of in 2021. It is conceivable that they, or Kentucky, could eke past Florida into second place in the East. Yes, Georgia should win the division. The Chippewas (Do I hear hear Gordon Lightfoot in the background?) will not roll over easily for Mizzou, which boasts a heap of firepower. Another win for the SEC (soon to add Oklahoma and Texas into the mix). Missouri 42, Central Michigan 24.

Eastern Illinois at South Carolina (No line)

Although I’ll bet there is a line in Vegas somewhere. I don’t intend to walk it though. Shane Beamer (another impressive coach from SEC Media Days) is Frank’s son. If he’s anywhere near as good a football coach as his dad, he will be a very good head coach one day. The Roosters won’t strut much this year, I don’t believe. Young Beamer has a whole bunch of work to do in this Columbia and he will get off to a good start, with his Graduate Assistant quarterback, in game one. If not, rut row. South Carolina 38, Eastern Illinois 7.

FAU at Florida (-23.5)

I do not think the Owls will roll over and play dead for the Water Lizards, yet I do expect them to lose. The Swamp will be rockin’ and this is not a good place to pick an upset. Dapper Dan will wear some fancy footwear (beads and Roman sandals won’t be seen). But maybe something “manly” like leather boots will be. Florida 40, Florida Atlantic 21.

Kent State at Texas A&M (-29)

Jamesbo should have his sixth ranked Aggies primed to play well Satday. October ninth can’t get here soon enough for A&M and Bama fans, but there is the matter of playing multiple other games before that eventful date. The Golden Flashes, what a great nickname, don’t have much of a chance. Another MAC team bites the dust. Texas A&M 49, Kent State 14.

ETSU at Vanderbilt (no line again)

The Buccaneers and the Dores (come on baby light my fire). From the West End of NashVegas.Neither team will strike the fear of God in you . I do expect the SEC gang to be much better than the visitors. The home team begins its quest for a bowl game with a victory under the lights. Vanderbilt 35, East Tennessee State 17.

LSU (-2.5) at UCLA

From the Rose Bowl in beautiful Pasadena, California with magnificent views of the San Gabriel mountains. Lord, I miss Keith Jackson. This one will be a sho nuff scrap. Or… a real dandy! With all the problems the Bayou Bengals had this week, I am tempted to pick the Bruins. Chip Kelly’s boys looked good against Hawaii last week. But it was Hawaii. Beast of a different ilk this week. Tigers prevail. LSU 31, UCLA 30.

Louisville vs. Ole Miss (-10) (in Atlanta)

Hotlanta gonna be hot on Labor Day at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Should be a good football game here too. I’m on the Lane Train. I expect some really good things out of the Rebels this season. If they can find a semblance of a defense, look out. The Cardinals have high hopes. The Black Bears have higher hopes. Ole Miss 45, Louisville 30.

Akron at Auburn (-37)

Mercy! I cannot wait to return to the Plains! The game will not be a good one from the point of view of being competitive. The Kangaroos, mascot, or Zips, nickname, will be demolished by our boys in blue. Terry Bowden, there he is again, coached this squad before he was canned and Tom Arth took the reins. Arth is 1-17 at the helm. The aforementioned Bowling Green is his lone victory in Rubberville. What the Tigers want to do is execute smoothly, run the ball downhill with ferocity, pass effectively and efficiently, and play some salty defense. If they are able to do that look for something in the vicinity of… Auburn 55, Akron Zip.

On to the Big One!

Georgia vs. Clemson (-3) (in Charlotte)

We have two top five teams facing each other in THE game of the week. Number three versus number five. Dabo and Kirby. Dawgs and Cats. Georgia is the only SEC team NOT favored in week one. I see this as a pick ’em. Both teams are loaded like a baked tater. Strong in the trenches. What should be two prolific quarterbacks. The Bullpups O line vs. the Clemmy D line ought to be a war for the ages. It should not be a wide open game. I don’t think either team will hit 30. Penalties and/or turnovers could decide it. I am leaning to the ACC on this monster clash. A shaky nod to… Clemson 27, Georgia 24.

There you have it folks! And oh! I am going to do a lock each week to assist you in hauling in some riches. Auburn minus the 37 this week.

Take care out there. I hope no one gets a blue gasket (see the 2019 season picks here at Bird’s Banter if you do not readily get the reference). And love your neighbor as yourself! Peace out.

Poll Cats-R U Hip To The Rankings Scene?

The first USA Today 2021 coaches football poll was released today, Tuesday August 10th, and that means a couple of things. First of all, the chatter that has been picking up speed and intensity since SEC Media Days concluded back in the latter part of July will now move the needle toward warp speed. Secondly, this means that the kickoff for the first games of the coming season are within sniffing distance.

That’s right boys and girls! We have college football slated for THIS MONTH! Two of the five games scheduled on Saturday, August 28th involve Power Five squads. There’s Nebraska at Illinois (and its new coach, Bret Bielema) along with Hawaii and UCLA from the Rose Bowl in beautiful Pasadena, CA! Whoa Nellie! How bout dat!

Polls. It’s a love/hate thing. You love to see them hit the sports page (old guy here), but you can get aggravated as all get out when you feel that your team has been slighted. And they truly are useless this time of year other than providing fodder for conversation about the sport we hold so very dearly.

And this game of college football has been changing at a breakneck pace in these dog days of summer. Between NIL, the transfer portal and the addition of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, our collective heads are spinning like a top. I am not going to use this space, at this time, to address that three-headed monster. Maybe later. Maybe not. I want to give it all some time to marinate because we ain’t done. There’s news daily on all of it. A great many people have a whole lot of space to fill and I will leave them to it.

And now, the USA Today coaches poll. Here she is…

1. Alabama (Surprise surprise surprise! As Gomer Pyle was wont to blurt out on occasion.)

2. Clemson (Let’s see how a Trevorless Tiger team follows the now Jacksonville Jaguars rookie’s brilliant run.)

3. Oklahoma (OK!)

4. Ohio State (How’s that case of Deja Vu going thus far?)

5. Georgia (On Clemson’s mind.)

6. Texas A&M (Jimbo! Jimbo! Slow down! Lord, I thought I talked with great rapidity.)

7. Notre Dame (Pick a conference, any conference.)

8. Iowa State (Will the new darling maintain her lofty perch?)

9. North Carolina (Can Mack and his boys dethrone Dabo’s gang?)

10. Cincinnati (A new Big Red Machine in the making?)

11. Florida (Dapper Dan! Another fast talking man.)

12. Oregon (A whole heap of NIL money out there in Nikeville.)

13. LSU (Will the Bayou Bengals rebound after following its Natty with a plunge into mediocrity?)

14. USC (Clay Helton remains. We shall see.)

15. Wisconsin (Wisky River take my mind.)

16. Miami (We will find out quite quickly as it opens with Bama in Hotlanta.)

17. Indiana (Tom Allen has done a tremendous job In Bloomington. Can the Hoosiers sustain that momentum?)

18. Iowa (Kurt Ferentz jus keeps on winning at the helm of the Hawkeyes.)

19. Texas (The Horns better enjoy being ranked for as long as they can. Welcome to the SEC.)

20. Penn State (Better put on your big boy britches come September 18th!)

21. Washington (Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, etc.)

22. Oklahoma State (The Cowboys might be searching for a conference along with the seven dwarfs that are in the same boat with them.)

23. UL Lafayette (The Ragin’ Cajuns beat Top Ten Iowa State in 2020. Coach Billy Napier continues to build this program after flirting seriously with Auburn.)

24. Coastal Carolina (Good football team last year and were ranked. Do you think it would beat Auburn head to head?)

25. Ole Miss (I have to keep mentioning Auburn as it was not ranked in this poll. The winner of the game between the Rebels and the Tigers will finish third in the SEC West behind the Crimson Tide and Aggies, according to yours truly.)

Some gut reactions to the coaches 25. Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss? Auburn, Michigan and, yes, Kentucky all say hello. And to be honest, I am sweet on Lane Kiffin’s troops as well. I am also sweet on Kentucky. The Cats could finish second in the East.

I’m sure the AP poll is soon to follow. All the magazines have made their picks. The bottom line is that these polls mean absolutely nothing. They will mean nothing when the regular season concludes. Yes, the polls do give those of us with insatiable appetites for NCAA (soon to be a thing of the past?) football something to talk about, argue about, and cuss about. They can shape perception, possibly, but, they are meaningless. The only poll that counts is the College Football Playoff poll.

Peace, love, football. Be safe out there and love you neighbor. These things matter.

Falling Leaves and Footballese

I was taking my daily walk, a week or so ago, when I felt a small rush of wind that was not summer like. This minor gust was a tinge cool and dry. It was then that a few dying leaves floated gently to the ground.

I immediately went into my shotgun stance, took the imaginary snap, and bolted toward right end on a zone read. I faked a pitch to my trailing tailback, tucked the pigskin, and dashed for 15 yards before I was knocked out of bounds.

First down!

It’s that time of year! For those of us who are rabid college football fans, excitement is abound. Every team is 0-0. No one has yet to lose a game. Anticipation is off the charts.

From “the loveliest village of the plains” to the bluegrass that surrounds Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky to the sprawling acreage of College Station, Texas. I can feel it, I can sense it, and I can almost smell the tantalizing scents of tailgate fare wafting on the breeze across the terrain of the sites where I will attend college football games this autumn.IMG_1037

“We’re on the cusp of a big year! Maybe we’ll make a New Year’s Day bowl. Can we win it all?”

But alas, the reality is those hopes, those 0-0’s will transform into 6 & 6’s, 5 & 7’s and, gulp, 4 & 8’s, for a great number of teams, by the conclusion of Thanksgiving weekend. There will not be many, if any, 12 & 0’s this fall.

Speculation. That is ALL we have right now.

Prediction. That is theme of the day.

Consternation. That is the mood of the pessimist and many a realist.

Exaltation. That is final word for all too few when the dust settles in January of 2016.

And that is a shame.

Everyone wants to know what lucky teams will make the College Football Playoff. What four teams will make it to Dallas and Miami? And the biggest question of all: What TWO teams will make the triumphant march to Glendale ?

It will be from that great Arizona desert that the players, alumni and fans of only ONE institution will hoist index fingers high above their heads and proclaim, “We’re number one!”

What happened to teams two through four who did, indeed, make the second installment of the College Football Playoff?

Many will leave the arenas of those great host cities with their heads hung low and their middle fingers raised high, or at least in their hearts and minds.

Again, that is a shame.

For all too often it is just about who is number one.

I have found myself in both of the above mentioned scenarios.

I reveled in the euphoria of victory on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, AZ.
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I wallowed in the dejection of defeat on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, CA.

But you know what? With a bit of time and perspective I was able to put both of those experiences in their proper place. The result in Glendale was grand and glorious. The experience in Pasadena, and the greater LA area, was blissful.

My dear wife, Melodye, and I enjoyed both of these experiences immensely. Sure! We wanted ever so badly to win BOTH of those ball games, but we did not. But what we did, in each case, was revel in the moment.

Now please bear with me as I, ever the sentimentalist and nostalgist, savor and share a few small slices of those grand times…

High five-ing security, as they encouraged us to “bring it back home”, at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when we boarded our plane to Phoenix.

Singing, in my mind, Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Coming Into Los Angeles’ as we descended into LAX.

Dining on sugar-cured duck breast at The Roaring Fork restaurant in Scottsdale. Being questioned by our server, with a laugh, if that is what we Auburn fans would be having, seeing as how our opponent was Oregon. 😉

Securing our room in Redondo Beach, CA and discovering, much to our delight, that it was number 116. Our street number, in Acworth, GA, is 116. We took this as a good sign. It typically is just that.

Chatting with the staff at Los Olivos restaurant and laughing at their descriptions of Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, who had dined there just a couple of nights prior.

And driving from our beach motel, picking up a close friend in north LA, and following her directions to the the hallowed grounds of the Rose Bowl. I could hear Keith Jackson doing his intro to “the grandaddy of them all.” I was awestruck at the beauty of the San Gabriel mountains. And as we strolled those grounds, talking and gawking and exchanging “War Eagles”, our ‘little buddy'(a nickname I gave her many years ago) remarked, “You guys are family!”IMG_1292

We are. We are indeed.

It is this family, in times of victory or defeat, that helps make every college game day experience special.

From the pen of David Housel, an Auburn man…

“What Is Auburn?

Far be it from me to try to answer that question. There are as many definitions of Auburn as there are Auburn men and women.

It would be safe to say, however, that Auburn is much more than a football game. It is much more than winning and losing.

It is a spirit. It is an attitude. It is a way of looking at life and at one another. It is, almost, a way of living. Unless you have experienced it, you will never know what it is; you will never understand it. Once you have experienced it, you will never be the same. A part of you will, forevermore, be an Auburn man or an Auburn woman.”

As we kick off OUR season here at Campus Pressbox, I want to wish each and every one of you, and your respective teams, good luck. I hope that your seasons are filled with magical moments that will last a lifetime.

Now let’s all go make some memories (and win a few football games as well)!