Week Eight SEC Picks: The Second Half Begins!

Let me begin by congratulating the University of South Carolina on its upset of the Trembling Chihuahuas ($1 to Jeff Schultz). Will Muschamp truly needed that signature win and now, maybe, he won’t have a stroke on the sideline, hopefully.

It’s a relatively benign docket of clashes scheduled for this weekend. The Third Saturday in October has become The Third Meh-Day in October. But, we down here in Dixie do love our glorious Sabbaths in the South. And thusly, let us make our 14 separate ways to the grand and glorious Cathedrals bathed beneath the sunkist skies, and some under the brilliant artificial lighting, for Week Eight of NCAA college football!

Alabama vs. Tennessee

As aforementioned, this once critical clash has become an October scrimmage for the the Pachyderms of Paul Bryant lineage. Whether it is played in the fall foliage of the Great Smoky Mountains or the, well, terrain of Tuscaloosa, it’s a snoozah. Here’s hoping there are no critical injuries, on either side, as Nick Saban’s Crimpson Tide marches forth toward the gargantuan showdown, in T-Town, with the Ferocious Felines of Red Stick. Alabama (-34.5) 48, Tennessee 13.

Florida vs. South Carolina

What do we have here? A hint of a scrap? Won’t be a nap. Could be a trap (channeling my inner Dr. Seuss). The Water Lizards are smartin’ (as is Kirby) from that defeat down on the Bayou last Satday. The Roosters are struttin’ coming off its massive upset Twixt the Shrubs of UGA. The game is in Columbia and the crowd will be at its barnyard best, but the egoless Danny Boy Mullen will have the visitors primed and ready and the hosts will return to reality. Florida (-5?) 27. South Carolina 14.

Georgia vs. Kentucky

The sun did shine quite brightly on the old the Kentucky home last Satday. It did not in Athens, GA. It will this Satday. Too bad for the, what will be reduced to, Kitties of Corn Mash. On a brighter note. The visiting squad has a favorable schedule, for the remainder of 2019, and it COULD run the table from here on out. Kirby may have to borrow some of Leonards’s “Smart Pills” if he hopes to get his Pups back to Hotlanta. This will be the first step in that direction. Georgia (-25) 37, Kentucky 16.

LSU vs. Mississippi State

This is the CBS feature game of the week. Say what??? That reinforces my assertion of Saturday being a Meh-Day. That’s what it’s come to. StarkVegas is the scene of the coming arse chewing about to be administered by Coach Ed “Yaw Yaw” Orgeron’s Bayou Bengals. Hit ain’t gone be purty! Joe Moorhead is now coming to the realization that “We’re not in Happy Valley” anymore. The SEC got game! And the Numero Uno Tigers, in my book, favored by 18.5 (not enough), will reduce the hometown Bullies into “Jambalaya, crawfish pie and a file gumbo,” quicker than you can say, Lagniappe! LSU 49, Miss State 20.

Missouri vs. Vanderbilt

It went from worse to “a whole damn lot worse” in Music City a week ago. The Commodewhores were routed by the Runnin’ Rebels of Sin City, 34-10! Say what deux ??? The Casino Kids only other victory, in 2019, was over Southern Utah. They have been defeated by Arky State, 43-17; Northwestern, 30-13; Wyoming, 53-17; and Boise State, 38-13. They am bad. Vandy am worse. I am not interested in this debacle unless George Jones rises from the grave, Jesus is coming soon!, and sings the National Anthem with Trisha Yearwood. Garth can harmonize. The West End Wonders will have to “take an ole cold tater and wait” until next year, when it will, quite possibly, have a new coach. Sorry Derrick Mason. I do like you a lot. Put the farm on the SEC’s third group of Tigers, -21. Missouri 45, Vanderbilt 13.

Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss

These Rebels did not run so well back on the twelfth of October. They dropped one out in the Show Me state to, don’t look now, the first place team in the SEC East. You heard that right! Numbuh one! Meanwhile, Jimbo’s Aggies were being subdued by them Elephants out thar where “the stars shine bright”, in Tejas. I do like the Black Bears, and The Grove is my favorite tailgate spot to visit in the conference, but I’m a thinkin’ the Agricultural and Mechanical school of College Station will prevail. Texas A&M (-6.5) 30, Ole Miss 20.

On to the big one! (In many of our eyes).

Auburn vs. Arkansas

Woo Pig Sooie!!! Our East Alabama Felines, helmed by native Arkansan, Gus Malzahn, will return RE-freshed and RE-newed for this battle, up in the Ozarks, Satday mawnin’! Gustav is 5-1 against his home state’s flagship program, should be 6-0, and his Tigers WILL be ready! Chad Morris’s Hawgs have yet to win an SEC clash since he took over the reigns from our good friend, Bret Bielema. ‘Ol Bert, as I was want to call him, really took the Fayetteville Flashes down the tubes. Good ole normal American football!

Auburn is now without the services of one Boobee Whitlow, but watch out for freshman DJ Williams! He is the real deal, and along with Kim Martin (lotta Cams/Kams in Tiger Town Lately), Shaun Shivers and Malik Miller, the ground game should Be in pretty good shape. Also expect Bo Nix to learn and improve from his lesson in The Swamp. Derrick Brown will lead a most fierce “D” and the special teams appear to be in order.

The Razorbacks gave both Texas A&M and Kentucky fits, so the Tigers better be ready. They will be! There should be minimal angst in this one and the visitors should return ti The Plains with win number six on the season. Auburn 42, Arkansas 17.

Please enjoy the featured image, “Tailgating in Little Rock, 1995.”

There’s your skinny for Week Eight in the SEC! Enjoy the games! Clean your plates. And don’t go dancin’ with the Devil. Take care out there and, ALWAYS, love your neighbor as yourself!

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Week Seven SEC Picks: Tiger Meat, Tiger Meat!

OK everyone! All together now! DAAAHHHHT da da da da da… Go Gators!!! Thank you very much! I hope you enjoyed that! Let’s congratulate the Water Lizards and move on to… Baton Rouge, where the above mentioned cheer will be nowhere as long and as loud, this week, because, the always humble and hospitable Dan Mullen, and company, will find in Red Stick a deafening cacophony of sound where its cheer will be drowned out by the strains of Hold that Tiger in Death Valley. More on that later.

Yours truly tallied a 4-1 week. Remember that talk of perfection? Oh well. Our East Alabama Tigers, obviously, provided the only blemish in Week Six. For the season we now stand at 47-10 with a solid .824 winning percentage.

We now attempt another run at perfection. Seven contests are on tap and a couple of them ar pretty darn large.

Alabama vs. Texas A&M

Nick Saban’s West Alabama Pachyderms will travel to College Station, TX as a 17 point favorite over the Aggies of Texas A&M. Jimbo Fishers gents will, no doubt, be well-prepared but the visitors have far too much fire power for the 3-2 hosts. It could be a pretty good game for awhile, but in the end, the Crimpsuns will have rolled once again. Alabama 35 Texas A&M 17.

Arkansas vs. Kentucky

Hawgs and Felines will be a scratchin’ and a clawin’ and a bitin’ in the Bluegrass Satday and it certainly should be one heckuva scrap. Mark Stoops troops are in desperate need of a victory and that they will find in the friendly confines of Kroger Field. Maybe Chad Morris’s Piggies will, at least, get a few fuel points for the trip east. Kentucky 31, Arkansas 23.

Georgia vs. South Carolina

Cock a doodle doooooo! Wake up Puppies! The Roosters are a headin’ your way for a 12 noon kickoff is “Between the Hedges”! By the time old UGA gets his blood boilin’ it will be feathers a flyin’ and hens a weepin’ in Athens, GA. Will Muschamp will be outsmarted by ol’ Kirby and the Dawgs move another step closer to being crowned champions of the SEC East. Georgia (-23.5) 34, South Carolina 14.

Mississippi State vs. Tennessee

“Wish that I was not on Rocky Top watching the Vols get killed…” The hometowners actually have a good chance at winning this weekend, as Joe Moorhead’s Bullies invade venerable Neyland Stadium. The Vowels are only a seven point dog Satday. This could turn out to be a really good clash, or, it could be a case of which squad is the least inept. In any case, I think another win will just elude the hapless homies. “We had a win on the tips of our fingers, but we let it slip right through our hands.” Miss State 27, Tennessee 21.

Missouri vs. Ole Miss

Matt Luke, and not Mark or John, and his Johnny Rebs will do battle with one of the three sets of Fighting Felines Satday. These Cats hail from Columbia, MO and they will be lying in wait for the Black Bears of Oxford. The Kitties are installed by the Vegas crowd as 12.5 point favorites. I would give the Land Sharks a better chance in Groveville, but not out there on I-70. Missouri 31, Ole Miss 20.

Vanderbilt vs. UNLV

More Rebels, you say? Yessiree bobbie! And these Runners will be making the flight from LAS Vegas to NASH Vegas. Hootie hoo! Sit down please! The Music City Commodores are a 14.5 choice to defeat the Runnin’ Rebels namesake oddsmakers. Say what? You read it right! And, AND, I do expect Vandy to win AND cover! You’re welcome! PSYCHE! Vanderbilt 34, UNLV 21.

Feature game time! Feature game time!

LSU vs. Florida

I hope all you Floridians have truly enjoyed basking in the glory of your well-earned victory over Auburn. But your joy shall be short-lived. The Swamp is a tough place to play, but LSU in Tiger Stadium, at night, is a tough tough TOUGH TUFFFFF place from which to return to the Sunshine State with a “W.” Ask anybody except Alabama. That chompin’ defense will keep the Water Lizards in the game, but hain’t no way Coach “Yaw Yaw” and THESE Cats are gonna lose Satday. LSU 30, Florida 21.

So run to your computers or phones, or to whatever device it is that you use to place your wagers. I have just given you a list to get rich by. Have fun! And also, take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor (as you do yourself).

Week Six SEC Picks: Giggin’ the Gators

Once again ladies and gentlemen, and children of ALL ages, the Auburn Tigers will participate in the primo game of the week in Southeastern Conference play. The first Auburn-Florida game I ever attended was on November 2, 1963. Highlights later.

Last week I predicted five of six games correctly, and that brought my season stats to 43-9 and a percentage of .826. Kentucky did not defeat USC East (That’s the University of South Carolina for those of you in the laity), and, therefore, I did not have a perfect week. I have yet to go 100% in any of the previous five weeks. We look to rectify that in week six.

Onward and upward!

The SEC squadrons that will not play football on Saturday, nor any other day this week, are, in alphabetical order, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, the Mississippi “Butthurt” Bulldoggies (yes, your words will always resonate in my heart and mind, Keith Jackson), South Carolina, and Texas A&M.

And now let us pick to perfection! Grin along if you like!

Georgia vs. Tennessee

Neyland Stadium, located in the Great Smoky Mountains of the Volunteer State, will be the site of the University of Tennessee’s next humiliation. It will be administered by Kirby Smart’s Pups. Jeremy Pruitt truly needs to win some football games but it ain’t happnin’ Satday. Break out the corn cobs and moonshine at the pregame tailgate because the only folks celebrating after this one will be those clad in red and black. Georgia 42, Tennessee 10.

LSU vs. Utah State

The Aggies travel to Red Stick with a 4-2 record and a quarterback, Jordan Love, that has been hyped for the Heisman Trophy. It’s athletic department sent me a spiral notebook containing his 2018 accomplishments, even though I don’t vote on the award. That was sweet of them. What won’t be sweet is the mangling inflicted upon them by those Bayou Bengals. Ed Orgeron’s Kitties will having a blast playing with the toys from the home of National Parks, such as Monument Valley, before they open up a can of gumbo on the visitors. LSU 49, Utah State 17.

Missouri vs. Troy

“Rah rah rammer jammer, best team in Alabama, Teeee-Roy Teeee-Roy!” That’s a cheer we used to do at Troy “State” football games back in the mid 70’s when yours truly was romping the fields of Pike County. And you better believe we wuz a ROMPIN’ there at 701 South Brundidge St. Then Jesus intervened and said, “Slow down boy!” Well, another story for another day. Praise the Lord and Punt the Pigskin! I would love to see my alma mater upset the Tigers, like they did a few years back on a Thursday night game, but I do not foresee it. Chip Lindsey’s Trojans will fall at the hands of Kelly Bryant and company. Barry Odom’s Felines are -24.5. Rubber men get drubbed! Missouri 45, Troy 13.

Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt

The Johnny Rebs are but a seven point favorite over the Commissioned Naval Officers of NashVegas. That doesn’t seem to be quite enough, in this prognosticator’s feeble mind. The Grove will be a bustlin’ and the home boys will be a hustlin’. The coach with two first names, Matt Luke (my son’s name is Auburn Luke, BTW), will have his troops ready, and Derrick Mason (Jar) will sail back to Middle Tennessee, drop anchor, and re-evaluate his team’s dismal season at the halfway point. Ole Miss 28, Vanderbilt 17.

Auburn vs. Florida

And now we continue what I promised at the beginning of this Pulitzer piece! Yes, it was 1963 and my father, brother and I sat in temporary bleachers erected in front of the south end zone permanent seats, what was then, Cliff Hare Stadium. Florida had a big time halfback in Larry Dupree, later to become a first team All American in 1964. They were picked to whip us. And here’s the beauty of the situation. It was homecoming on The Plains! Guess whose homecoming it is this week? Yes, it’s the Water Lizards’ call to ole grads and all that accompanies it, Gator Growl, etc. All this is an attempt to muster up an electric atmosphere in The Swamp which could lead to an upset of General Gus Malzahn and his seventh ranked Tigers.

But back to ’63. Auburn beat the hell out of Florida that autumn afternoon, beneath the sun kist skies, to the tune of 19-Zip, and all the points were scored in Little Tweetie’s end zone! Two field goals by Woody Woddall, one 25 yard run by Jimmy Sidle, and one pick six by sophomore linebacker Wild Bill Cody. It was glorious! Yes, the atmosphere will be electric and the Gators will be a chompin’, but the visiting Felines flatten the home team, going away, in the fourth quarter. Oh wait! The 1963 edition of the Water Lizards had a brash young freshman quarterback who later became the Head Ball Coach in Gainesville. But freshmen couldn’t play with the varsity back then. Steve Spurrier would have to wait until two years later to return to Cliff Hare Stadium and take his whipping, 28-17, administered by the heavy underdog Tigers in 1965. Yes, it was again a homecoming game. Later Gators! Auburn 30, Florida 17.

Next week… Batman vs. Mr. Freeze (as Auburn has an open week), and many other surprises right here on Bird’s Banter!

Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor! But you’d better not covet his ox nor his ass!

Week Five SEC Picks: Time to Bully the Dogs

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

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

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

Speaking of predictions, let us proceed!

Alabama vs. Ole Miss

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

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

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

Florida vs. Towson????

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

Kentucky vs. South Carolina

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

Vanderbilt vs. NIU

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

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

Auburn vs. Mississippi State

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Onward!

Alabama vs. Southern Miss

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

Arkansas vs. San Jose State

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

Florida vs. Tennessee

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

Mississippi State vs. Kentucky

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

LSU vs. Vanderbilt

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

South Carolina vs. Missouri

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

Ole Miss vs. Cal

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

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

First, the game in Athens.

Georgia vs. Notre Dame

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

And…

Auburn vs. Texas A&M

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week Three SEC Football Picks

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

Alright! FOOTBALL!

Arkansas vs. Colorado State

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

Florida vs. Kentucky

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

Georgia vs. Arkansas State

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

LSU vs. Northwestern State

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

Mississippi State vs. Kansas State

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

Missouri vs. Southeast Missouri State

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

Ole Miss vs. Southeastern Louisiana

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

Tennessee vs. Chattanooga

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

Texas A&M vs. Lamar

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

Vanderbilt Open

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

Home staters!

Alabama vs. South Carolina

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

Aaaaaaand!

Auburn vs. Kent State

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week Two SEC Football Picks

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

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

Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

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

Florida vs. UT Martin

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

Georgia vs. Murray State

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

Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan

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

Mississippi State vs. Southern Miss

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

Missouri vs. West Virginia

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

South Carolina vs. Charleston Southern

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

Tennessee vs. BYU

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

Vanderbilt vs. Purdue

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

And now on to the Monster Games of the Week.

Texas A&M vs. Clemson

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

LSU vs. Texas

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

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

Alabama (not much versus at all) New Mexico State

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

Auburn vs. Tulane

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

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

Football!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week One SEC Football Picks

We got a little taste of SEC football last weekend when Florida squeaked past Miami in one of the YOU-gliest football games I have ever seen. It actually hurt my eyes to watch that debacle. One team won, Florida, and one team lost, Miami, and that was about all you can say about it. The final tally was, Gators 24, Miami 20. I had the Gators 24-21, so I was about as close as you can get on it. It rarely happens that one picks the exact score, or that close to it, because picking college football games is a highly inexact science. Now, let’s wipe the dust off our collective feet and move away from Week Zero to what will actually be dubbed Week One of the 2019 NCAA Football Season. And, specifically, the Southeastern Conference.

Texas A&M vs. Texas State.

My bride and I will, be making our way to the Lone Star State this weekend, but certainly not for this mismatch. The Aggies will bother with nothing more than tuning up for next week’s monster game at Clemson. Jimbo & Co. won’t show much of anything and this one could easily eclipse the -33.5 line if they so desire. I think they will.
Texas A&M 45, Texas State 7

Arkansas vs. Portland State

Don’t chuckle just yet. North Texas State walloped the Razorbacks by a score of 44-17 last year, but that is where the similarities end regarding this particular game. Chad Morris is slowly building a competitive team out thar in them Ozarks and Arkansas should not struggle too very much with the visiting Vikings.
Arkansas 38, Portland State 16

Tennessee vs. Georgia State

The home team Vols are a heavy favorite, as are the great majority of conference teams, this weekend. Jeremy Pruitt’s Rocky Toppers, much like the aforementioned Hawgs, are a little bit better in 2019 and should readily dispose of the Panthers from downtown Hotlanta. LeCroy’s loser… Georgia State!
Tennessee 40, Georgia State 14

Miss State vs. Louisiana Lafayette

This is one that will be tougher for the Cowbellers than one would think, at first glance. They ‘ll tee it up in the Big Easy, but nothing will be easy for State down on Poydras Street..The Rajin’ Cajuns will be ready and it’ll be hotter than that sauce they make down there in NOLA, but the Bulldoggies should eventually outdistance the home team away after an early struggle.
Miss State 31, Louisiana Lafayette 20

LSU vs. Georgia Southern

We’ll keep it down on the bayou with the next contest. Coach Ed “Yaw Yaw Yaw football!” Orgeron has the makings of a fine team this year in Red Stick. The Bengal Tigers appear to have the potential to challenge Alabama in the SEC West. Things will begin to take shape along that line Saturday as the boys from Statesboro will return home with a case of the blues.
LSU 42, Georgia Southern 10

Kentucky vs. Toledo

The Rockets finished first in the MAC in 2018 and should bring a talented and well-prepared team to Kroger Field in Lexington. And even though the Cats lost some heavyweights off its 10 win, 2018,  team, it will have too much talent in its arsenal to allow for the upset.
Kentucky 34, Toledo 23

Missouri vs. Wyoming

This game will take place in Laramie. The Cowboys will be ropin’ and wranglin’ on its home sod. But Mizzou will be up for this rodeo with grad transfer Kelly Bryant, formerly of Clemson, leading the way. He knows a thing or two about winning. Couple that with a solid running game and a salty defense and the visiting Tigers escape the noose with a victory.
Missouri 35, Wyoming 17

Ole Miss vs. Memphis

This could very well be one of the most exciting games played, Saturday, with an SEC team involved. Mike Norvell picked right up where Justin Fuente left off with the Beale Street Bengals. Matt Luke epitomizes the ferocity, tenacity, and passion typical of one who is fortunate enough to coach his alma mater. In the end they’ll be toasting the home team at Rendezvous, Corky’s, and the like on the shores of the mighty Mississipp! The home field advantage will be just enough to put the Tigers over the top. In a close one that could easily go the other way.
Memphis 34, Ole Miss 33

South Carolina vs. North Carolina
Another of the early season “bowl” games. Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks take on the Tar Heels in Mack Brown’s return to Chapel Hill. This game, in Charlotte, holds the possibility of turning out to be a very close clash. I like South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley’s skill, leadership, skill, and experience to be enough for the edge here.
South Carolina 28, North Carolina 24

Georgia vs. Vanderbilt

The game is to be played in Nashville, but look for the visiting Bulldogs to provide more fans and make more noise than the hometown Commodores. Country music will be ubiquitous down on Broadway when all is said and done on Saturday night. And the Georgia fans will be howling at the moon as they take the first (two) step toward another SEC East title.
Georgia 37, Vanderbilt 16

Alabama vs. Duke

The Crimson Tide has been rolling in suspensions and injuries in the preseason. But don’t cry for Nick Saban and his reloaded gang of future NFLers. Alabama will win and it will probably win going away. David Cutcliffe is one of the the best in the business. No matter. Saban is the best in the business. The Devils will, indeed, be blue (and black) when this one is completed.
Alabama 41, Duke 13

And on to the marquee game of Week One…ESPN’s College Football Gameday…

Auburn vs. Oregon
Deux. Outside of Ole Miss, this is the game where the SEC has the best chance to come up short on Saturday night. From Jerry World in Arlington, TX, it’s the number 11 Ducks and the number 16 Tigers. Mario Cristobal has a most talented assemblage he is bringing to the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, especially on the offensive side of the football where he sports, arguably, the top O line in college football.

Gus Malzahn, whose seat is not as hot as the average football fan would like to think, has three potential first round NFL selections on his D line. And Kevin Steele has had that group in the top 15 in scoring defense in each of his three seasons on The Plains. This is a matchup made in heaven for we fans who are now salivating for some seriously scintillating football.

That gives me pause to consider that an equally important matchup will be Auburn’s O line vs. Oregon’s D line. Gus himself has said that that gang of big uglies was one of the strong points of preseason camp. Hmmmm…

Oregon’s wide receivers and secondary could be chinks in its armor. Auburn has some stud horses in its wide receivers and secondary aggregations, and it is deep in those areas, as well.

Ok, Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert is a bona fide Heisman candidate and potential NUMBER ONE NFL draft pick. Bo Nix, and backup Joey Gatewood are freshmen. The former a true freshman and the latter a redshirt freshman. And one thing I would like to remind people of, is, that Nix was the NUMERO UNO dual threat quarterback in the country coming out of the 2019 class. He is also one of the most “football ready” QB’s to come along the pike in some time.

Oregon has a solid ground game. Auburn has a talented stable of SIX (Boobee Whitlow, Kam Martin, Shaun Shivers, Malik Miller, DJ Williams, and Harold Joiner who is someone to keep your eye on Saturday night).

Also watch for Jay Jay Wilson, an Arizona State transfer. He is said to be a great weapon, both blocking and receiving, at the H-Back position.

Although the Ducks have a good front seven, Auburn’s is quite talented and should be extremely stingy on the defensive side of the ball.

Arryn Siposs is, purportedly, on the verge of a breakout season. And our Aussie mate wasn’t too shabby in 2018. Anders Carlson should be rounding into the form his older brother took during his record breaking four years at Auburn.

When the dust finally settles, it will, most probably, come down to turnovers, penalties, and whichever team wants it most. I think Auburn is the biggest, fastest and most athletic of the two teams, and I think it’s extremely hungry to do something special for the Auburn family in 2019. This game will be the first step in that journey.

Look for the game to be very hard fought with the Tigers holding a one score lead entering the fourth quarter. And look for Carlson to salt it away with a late field goal.
Auburn 27, Oregon 17

So, that’s it for my Week One forecast in Week One in the SEC! Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor!

And War Eagle!!!

SEC MEDIA DAYS – RANDOM TAKES

SEC Media Days have now come and gone. I listened to all 14 coaches, their spiel and the questions they answered, and I was impressed with every coach and what he had to say about his team. They all seemed to have a vision and a master plan for their respective squads. And the league’s coaching fraternity appears to be a very strong group, top to bottom.  That being said, most of the hullabaloo and hype at the event is much ado about nothing.

Same Old Same Old

Georgia and Alabama are the favorites to win the East and West, and they should be. Both are, once again, loaded to the gills and both are stacked deep with premier level talent chomping at the bit to get to “The League.” That’s is THE goal for today’s kids. They are kids, by and large, and we should keep that in mind when tempted to speak, not so flatteringly, of their real or perceived failings and errors.

Up and Coming

I came away truly impressed with Barry Odom and his Missouri Tigers. Kelly Bryant should give Mizzou some great talent and leadership at the quarterback position. I like who it has returning, across the board, and the schedule is quite manageable.

Quick Takes

In the West. Chad Morris will be getting Arkansas rebuilt in time. You’ll se a LOT of improvement from the Razorbacks this fall.

You just gotta love Coach “O” at LSU. “Yaw yaw yaw FOOTBALL.”

Joe Moorhead has State headed in the right direction but they Bullies lost a lot to graduation.

I also love Matt Luke at Ole miss but they’re fighting an uphill battle in the West.

I believe Jimbo will do a good job in College Station, but I don’t get all the love for the Aggies.

In the East. Dan Mullen has restored the passion at Florida. I do not believe they’re ready to overtake Georgia.

Mark Stoops has really done well at Kentucky as has Will Muschamp at South Carolina. The fact is, though, these teams are not going to win the East. Ever? I don’t know.

And Tennessee. Jeremy Pruitt has a monumental task rebuilding Tennesse. Will the Vols ever return to its former glory? Probably not any time soon. You will see this team fight and claw and scratch each week. ($1 to Pat Dye).

AND! I was hoping this was not going to happen, but it did. I wanted to keep my expectations low and make as little noise as possible going into the 2019 campaign, but Auburn, IMHO, is locked and loaded. There is great talent and experience in the two sets of trenches. The D line could be the best in the country. The linebackers could wind up being better than last year’s senior laden group  and the secondary is also very talented and pretty darn deep with great experience returning.

The offense returns ALL seniors on the line and that group was healthy and vastly improved by the time the bowl game rolled around. They should be a strength. Also, they more than held their own against the D line in the spring.

Boobee Whitlow should be poised to have a breakout season at running back and the stable is deep there. Kam Martin, is back for his senior season and provides excellent leadership. Malik Miller is a solid role player. Shaun Shivers has blazing speed. And DJ Williams could be a future star.

The wideouts are excellent. Eli Stove and Will Hastings return from injuries. Anthony Schwartz had an incredible freshman season and should onlyget better. Sal Cannela is formidable. Seth Williams is a beast. Matthew Hill had an eye-popping spring and A Day game. Marquis McClain is also due to breakout, and Shedrick Jackson will hopefully continue to come along nicely.

The tight end position is moving toward being a strength. John Samuel Shenker leads to pack at this point and is following closely by Tyler Fromm (Jake’s brother. UGA QB) and Luke Deal.

Ah! Quarterback. Bo or Joey? Joey or Bo? One is a true freshman and the other a redshirt freshman. I asked Arryn Siposs which the team preferred. He said it didn’t matter which one started. Either would do very well. (As an aside, I also asked him how many games AU would win this fall. He, unhesitatingly replied, “Undefeated!” I love his passion, confidence, and enthusiasm.)

Speaking of Siposs and special teams. Top notch. Siposs is going to turned loose to kick 70 yard spirals and Anders Carlson provides great strength at the placekicker position.

I also feel very, very good about the intangibles and hunger this team seems to be blessed with. They want it badly and the eight guys who opted to return, led by Derrick Brown, form a tremendous nucleus on which to build. And, I do think Gus calling the plays and taking control of the team, in a big way, again will work out extremely well.

Okay! I let my newly found hope and optimism  get the best of me. But I’m really “feeling it” here in late July.

On to my picks for the divisions order of finish and who should win it all.

EAST

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

WEST

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

SEC Champion

All together now…

Alabama!!!

The Tide is an easy pick to win the West, but I do think Auburn and LSU have a chance. A real chance. I do not think anyone will unseat Georgia in the East. The Dawgs WILL WIN THE EAST.

Ok folks, buckle up! Football season is, unofficially, HERE!!!

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

 

The March To Tampa: Let The Hype Begin

It’s that time of year. On Monday, three major college football publications, Lindy’s, Athlon, and The Sporting News, released their Preseason College Football rankings for the 2016 season. Ever since I was a kid, waiting for Street and Smith’s to publish their preseason magazine, this has been a much-anticipated time for me.

Where is Auburn? Alabama! Again? That refrain rings true once more as Auburn is nowhere to be found in any of the three polls and Alabama resides in the top spot in all of them. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

There are a great many of the usual suspects, from years past, that also find themselves in the hunt. Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, and USC would count among those teams. There are also a few teams that would not have been rated back in my younger days. They would include Baylor, TCU, Louisville, Clemson, Houston, Oklahoma State and Oregon.

And here they are with links:

Lindy’s Athlon The Sporting News
1. Alabama 1. Alabama 1. Alabama
2. Clemson 2. Florida State 2. Clemson
3. Oklahoma 3. Ohio State 3. Oklahoma
4. Ohio State 4. Clemson 4. Ohio State
5. Baylor 5. Michigan 5. Baylor
6. Tennessee 6. Oklahoma 6. Florida State
7. Michigan 7. Tennessee 7. Ole Miss
8. Florida State 8. Notre Dame 8. Michigan
9. LSU 9. LSU 9. Stanford
10. Stanford 10. Ole Miss 10. Notre Dame
11. Notre Dame 11. Washington 11. Michigan State
12. Houston 12. Stanford 12. LSU
13. Ole Miss 13. Michigan State 13. Tennessee
14. Louisville 14. Baylor 14. Houston
15. Iowa 15. UCLA 15. USC
16. Oklahoma State 16. Houston 16. Oklahoma State
17. USC 17. Georgia 17. Iowa
18. Georgia 18. TCU 18. North Carolina
19. San Diego State 19. Louisville 19. Oregon
20. TCU 20. Iowa 20. Georgia
21. Washington 21. Florida 21. Washington
22. Michigan State 22. North Carolina 22. Louisville
23. UCLA 23. USC 23. Arkansas
24. Oregon 24. Oregon 24. Texas
25. North Carolina 25. Oklahoma State 25. TCU
In the SEC, we have Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas. That’s half of the league in and half of the league out. Auburn would be the most prominent exception. Now, lets take a look at all of the SEC teams that made their way in and what the average ranking of each, between the three magazines, would be. We will divide the total of each team’s ranking by three, thus, Alabama 3 divided by 3 = 1. I was hell in arithmetic.

Alabama – 1.0

Tennessee – 8.67

Ole Miss – 10

LSU – 10
( A tie. Interesting.)

Georgia – 18.3

Florida was ranked just once, at 21 by Athlon. Arkansas was also ranked only once and that was at 23 by the Sporting News. I suppose they would both fall into the “others receiving votes” in our combined poll.

And so, that leaves only four teams, Alabama, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU as being unanimously ranked. That is not what the SEC is accustomed to. Does that mean it will be a down year for the SEC? I don’t know. I could see Auburn making it in when all is said and done. But Missouri, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M? No.

The way I’m looking at it, there would be a maximum of seven SEC teams being ranked when the final poll results are in. A maximum, but there, obviously, could be fewer than that.

I mentioned only four teams that are unanimously ranked in the three publications, and they all fall within the top ten. There is certainly a chance that some of those four teams do not meet expectations.

Will Alabama, truly, be as good as they were last year or in years before? Danny Sheridan, oddsmaker and Bama grad, thinks the Tide could lose a couple of games and finish behind LSU. Alabama also lost Kirby Smart to Georgia. How about them Dawgs? There is an entire new coaching staff, and system, that the Bulldogs have to adjust to.

What about LSU? And Tennessee? There are pundits who are beginning to surmise that these teams are overrated. I disagree. In fact, the more I think about these two, the more I like them.

Tennessee, and Butch Jones, have been steadily building this program and those freshmen that were talented, but green, back in 2013 are bigger, stronger, and experienced. The Vols are also deep. I fully expect them to win the East and play for the SEC Championship.

LSU? Same thing with Brandon Harris, Leonard Fournette and their fellow Tigers. I’m beginning to see Danny Sheridan’s point of view and I understand why he thinks the Bayou Bengals will win the SEC West. It could happen.

Hype! Hype! Hype! That’s all we’ve got until September 1 when South Carolina and Vanderbilt open SEC play. And that, my friends, is only 98 days away!