Week 14 SEC Picks: Iron Bowling for Dollars

“Hmmmm, Candida.” Just segueing from last week to the Thanksgiving/Iron Bowl week extravaganza we here at Bird’s Banter have planned for you, the reader. And evidently, there is not a plethora of you good folks out there reading these humble words. At least not last week. The numbers dropped precipitously. We’re going to write that one off (though I thought it was one of the better blogs). She did receive some great reviews but minimal readership. C’est la vie!

Interestingly enough, I did have a request for this special edition of SEC Picks. A dear friend of mine inquired as to the possibility of getting the column done by Wednesday, instead of Thursday. Great idea actually! Even if our family did celebrate the Giving of Thanks this past Sunday. We still plan to do lunch, or dinner, and a movie on Turkey Day. This has evolved into a tradition as we have to arrange schedules to suit the handful of families within our little sphere.

I bet you were just hanging on every word of that enticing introduction! Now we press on to the body and the conclusion.

The request line is open!

And our first request comes from “Nicky S” of Tuscaloosa. He asks, “Bird, in your infinite wisdom, how do you see Saturday’s Iron Bowl tuning out?” Thank you Nicky! I will get to that shortly. But first we have a little ditty to tell and we must predict all of the other rivalry games on the docket for Saturday. Patience please.

I attended my first Auburn-Alabama game on Thanksgiving Day of 1964. And it was also televised, nationally for the first time, on NBC. How bout dat!?

I wrote a column on that experience back in 2014, and, alas, it no longer exists in the College Football Roundtable archives. Gone. Kaput!

The essence of it, in a nutshell.

Alabama was 10-0, and Auburn, a preseason favorite to win it all, limped in with a 6-3 record. Limped would indeed be an apt descriptor of this Auburn football team. Jimmy Sidle, its All-American and first Tiger quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards, in 1963, was hurt and could only play wingback. Tom Bryan, a promising young sophomore, was now the signal caller and he was doing a pretty darn good job on that sunny afternoon at newly expanded Legion Field. A (cough cough) neutral site. (Rolls eyes).

Tucker Frederickson was in great form that day and had put Auburn up at the half, 7-6, with a dive, up and over, in the north end zone where my cousin Richard and I sat. Earlier, Alabama had scored its first touchdown when the ball was snapped over, Tiger punter, Jon Kilgore’s head and the Tide recovered it for a TD. David Ray missed the extra point.

But, alas, Ray Ogden took the second half kickoff to the house, north to south, 107 yards. Joe Willie Namath hit Ray Perkins, in the fourth quarter, on a 23-yard TD pass, and Bama went on to win, 21-14.

Also, someone stole my lucky hat, sort of a fedora, blue, with an orange feather in it, at halftime. I am convinced that is why Auburn lost the game!

Sigh.

Since that ’64 game I have attended 39 Auburn-Alabama games. My record stands at 18 wins and 22 losses.

Here’s to 19!

Rivalry Time!!! Hey the games begin on Thursday with the Egg Bowl! Thanks for the request. We gotta get busy!

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

The Black Rebel Sharks are +2.5 for the the game in lovely StarkVegas. Its record is 4-7. If it loses, then there will b e no bowling (tennis or badminton) for the Oxfordians in 2019. The Bullies are 5-6, making this a must win to absolutely insure a postseason clash for Joe Moorhead’s Canines. The question remains, will Joe depart after this season is in the books? A loss to the folks from the land of Faulkner could lead to the hastening of that process involving the decision. In a doozy. Ole Miss 28, Miss State 27.

Missouri vs. Arkansas

We have used the term “YOU-Gly” on multiple occasions here in 2019. That descriptor aptly applies to the horror show to take place on Friday in Pigtown. The homies are 12 point dogs, or swine, or whatever. The Columbia Felines can also lock up a bowl bid with a win, its sixth. Barry Lunney, Jr. does seem to have the Hawgs playing with some spunk. Could be a scrap. Missouri 31, Arkansas 21.

Clemson vs. South Carolina

Warm buttocks appear to abound in the good ole SEC, as we speak. Will Muschamp, reportedly, do indeed have a case of Burning Backside. I don’t know how much reality there is to that, or any potential pink slippages, in this day of staggering buyouts. The game will take place in the land of the Cockaboose. Dabo’s Felines are smokin’ (and, quite possibly, drinkin’ and cussin’, as well). They are also -27.5. I do not know about Clempson covering. I do know about them winning. Aw heck! And covering. Clemson 48, South Carolina 13.

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

The Pups are an even a larger favorite than Cousin Clem. -28.5. The Ramblin’ Wrecks have shown a bit of spark in the second half of the season. They beat Miami and NC State. I have immediate family and several in my church who “drink my whiskey clear.” They better have a goodly portion of sour mash at their finger tips this Satday, at noon, for Smarty’s Dawgs will have their way with the Yellow Jackets. Georgia 35, Georgia Tech 9.

Louisville vs. Kentucky

Also a nooner. Mark Stoops’ Fightin’ Felines have secured a postseason game. Now they want to enhance the location of that impending bid. Isn’t Bobby Petrino no longer a Cardinal? Maybe Pope Francis will make him one again! Well, there is the matter of Easy Rider’s Catholicity and his struggle with the seventh commandment. But “we are all sinners”, right? One never knows! Speaking of Bobby P, I have also seen his name brought up as a passing coordinator candidate at Auburn by some badly misguided soul on a message board. What some folks will do for attention. Members of the troll community. No? Really!? Didn’t that ship sail exactly 16 years ago!? Kentucky 31, Louisville 23.

Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee

The Top will be Rocky, in Knoxville, for the visitors from Music City Satday at 4PM (3CT). The Corn Cobbers and the Anchors. Pruitt and Mason. Starsky and Hutch. Waylon and Willie. Ok, that could go on all day. Mary and Joseph. You get the snapshot. The Vowels are bowl bound! The Dores (“Come on baby, light my fire”) are not. Nor do they have the opportunity to accomplish that this weekend. They do not pass go. They do not collect $200. They do not win. Tennessee (-21) 34, Vanderbilt 14.

Texas A&M vs. LSU

Jimbo’s Aggies gave Kirby ( “How about them, BEEPIN’, Dawgs!”) “Potty Mouth” Smart’s Bullpups a bit of a fit this past weekend. Well, at least Buster B trumped “We beat the dog crap out of them”! All swearing aside, this one ain’t going seven overtimes in 2019. We pray. It’s in Red Stick. Thus the 17 point line which favors the Bayou Bengals. It’s also a night game and that spells “gloom, despair, and agony on me” for the Aggies. LSU 35, Texas A&M 20.

Florida State vs. Florida

The Taggertless Noles must travel to The Swamp for its final whuppin’ of the year. I guess there is the matter of a bowl game to consider, so I suppose I’ll amend my statement to read, “It’s next to last spanking of the season.” Danny, How much caffeine can one man consume?, Mullen will have his Water Lizards ready to chomp, on Satday, and the Tallahassee Tribe shall suffer its sixth thrashing of this campaign. Florida 34, Florida State 16.

Sound the trumpet! Honk the horn! Wake up the children. Read your bibles! It’s THE game of the weekend in all of her glory! Iron will be sharpened and bowls will be smoked down on the Plains of East Alabama on Satday!

Auburn vs. Alabama

This will mark my 41st time attending this classic event, and that is what she is, an event! Should be a barn burner! No SEC West title is at stake and only the visitors have an outside chance of making the playoff. Don’t let the absence of Tua misguide your thinking here. The Crimpson Tide will be one tough out. Or it might be an in. IMHO, this is a pick ’em. The visitors are, currently, a 3.5 point favorite. Vegas ain’t making Bama a dog. The money would be stacked sky high on the Pachyderms and Sin City don’t want no part of that. They like even betting on both sides. The Tigers defense is, as you well know, its strength. That unit WILL keep it close. Can the offense complement it enough to pull off, what would be considered, a mild upset? Can Mac “The Knife” Jones withstand the the pressure and the deafening crowd noise which will greet him in Jordan-Hare Stadium? Will Gus have a game plan that will allow his minions to score the necessary points to win the game? Can Anders Carlson clear out the clutter which has, evidently, come to reside within his noggin? These, and more, questions will be answered by around 7:00-7:30 PM (ET) Satday? My take? Auburn 24, Alabama 21.

Here’s to wishing for no blew gaskets, cut koners or the like this weekend in Auburn!

“Get your motor running, head out on the highway. Looking for adventure…”

God bless and a Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor as yourself. Peace out!

Week 13 SEC Picks: So You Want To Be a Rock Star

I’ve got a “Favorites” setlist going now. Apple Music picked it. Just a warning as the music could influence this week’s blog. Like I’ve said before, I am only the vessel. A stream of inspired consciousness.

Week 13 SEC Picks! The Pusher, by Steppenwolf, first song up. Most of y’all know it. Old John Kay wrote an eye opener with this tune. Pretty doggone heady for its day. I absolutely loved Steppenwolf!

I was a part of a rock ‘n roll band for one evening back in 1970. My first quarter at Auburn (Yes, we will get to football in a minute! Hang on!) I saw a 3×5 card posted on a bulletin board in Haley Center, by someone or something called JC&G Productions, seeking a lead singer for a fledgling band to do tunes by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Creedence and, yes, Steppenwolf, among others. I though, hmmmm, think I’ll look into it. Well, the next thing you know I’m out at the old Holiday Inn on US 280, near The Bottle. We, the band, are in a large meeting/banquet room rehearsing for the first, and last, time. At least with me as a member.

We did Born To Be Wild, Proud Mary, and the Alvin Lee and Ten Years After opus, I’m Going Home. The lead guitarist was ripping it it and we were jammin’ out. In the middle of I’m Going Home we veered into Wilson Pickett’s Land of a Thousand Dances, and we were off and running. But no monitor to speak of and I couldn’t hear myself singing, “Naaaa nana na naaa nana na naaaa na na naaaa na na naaaaa…”, and then I transition into “nobody can do the shing a ling, like I do, nobody can do the skate, like I do, nobody can do the Philly…” and on and on. Cranking it up in Lee County!

But Charlie, JC&G stood for John, Charlie, and Greg, Charlie had written up a book of lyrics and he was the absolute king of misheard lyrics. He had Born To Be Wild beginning with “Bitchin’ for the run in, devil’s on the highway, looking for attention, or whatever the game played.” Or some other misconglomeration of words. Whew! He also obliterated Green River. SMH.

Anyway, we gathered up at the end and talked about coming gigs in Opelika, Columbus, rehersals and somewhere else I can’t remember. But here’s the killer. These were to be played on Football Saturday nights and I would not be able to attend some of the games due to traveling, etc., setting up, and so forth. No sir! War Eagle!

I rode home with Charlie and John, they lived just down Glenn St. from me, sitting in the back seat while they sang along to Tony Orlando and Dawn’s, I think it was just Dawn in those days, Candida. “Oh oh, Candida, we could make it together, the further from here girl the better, where the air is fresh ands clean…”

Lord knows what lyrics Charlie was singing.

Short story long, when we arrived at the War Eagle apartments, which was their abode, I said goodbye and never saw them again. I weren’t gone miss no Auburn football games even if it meant passing up the rock star wannabe lifestyle.

I often muse on that night thinking about what might have been. Thanks, but no thanks. And I would like to think the good Lord saw fit to keep me out of that wrangle as I might not be here today if I had followed that treacherous path. ‘Cause I did love to get down. Still do to a much much MUCH lesser degree.

The moral of the story is, stick with your favorite college football team and let the band play on.

“Get your motor running, head out on the highway!!!!”

And that, my friends, brings us to SEC football and ALL of our favorite teams!

Have mercy! There are some real stinkers on the skeh-jule this week! Let’s do something different! I’ll list the games, followed by the scores, and it’s your job to match them up!

  1. Auburn vs. Samford.
  2. Alabama vs. Western Carolina
  3. Kentucky vs. UT Martin (Remember! I stayed at an Econo lodge there in Martin, TN and dined at the Huddle house! See earlier blog.)
  4. Mississippi State vs. Abilene Christian (I wonder if there’s an Abilene Buddhist? “Abilene Abilene, prettiest town that I’ve ever seen…” Great song by George Hamilton lV.)
  5. Vanderbilt vs. ETSU (It’s your job to ‘cipher just who ETSU is.)
  6. 42-10
  7. 52-6
  8. 37-13
  9. 49-7
  10. 45-13

Just match 1-5 (games) with 6-10 (scores). Sorry I’m doing it this way, but I’m not adept at this numbering/lettering/matching thing. I’m an unfrozen caveman lawyer. You figure it out.

Now! On to some Southeastern Conference league play games!

Arkansas vs. LSU

Oops! Another stinker! LSU is a 43.5 favorite. I rest my case. Peeyeeew! Coach “yaw yaw yaw football” Orgeron and his Bayou Bengals are about to open a gargantuan can on the Piggies. The ‘Backs are coarched by (Fill in the blank. I don’t know). I do know that I hope it won’t be Gus in 2020. And everybody simmer down about firing Gus. Let him finish the season. Then we’ll see wot hoppens. Let’s stick to football. LSU 56, Arkansas 17.

Tennessee vs. Missouri

This ‘un could be a good scrap! The Vowels are a 4 point road dog. Mizzou tends to win at home and lose on the road. Both squads are 5-5. One team reaches bowl game status. The Columbia Felines are the pick, but this forecaster likes a minor upset by Jeremy Pruitt’s band of Smoky Top Rockies. It’ll go down to the wire and the Corn Cobbers will win it with a field goal. Tennessee 27, Missouri 24.

An aside. Back to my Apple Music “Favorites” setlist. Warren Zevon’s “Carmelita” is playing now. Plucks the heart strings. The most beautiful song you will ever hear about heroin addiction. No joke. So very touching. RIP Warren Zevon. We miss you.

Now Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” Wow! More beauty. The first time I heard this brilliant, moving tune, I was sitting in a circle, towel under the door, incense burning, the whole nine yards, at the Delta Chi house that same freshman year at Auburn. Spring quarter. Just before I flunked out. The first time.

Georgia vs. Texas A&M

The Pups are back ‘Twixt the Hedges for this scintillating contest. It could be just that. You have to wonder if the emotion of that huge win down on The Plains, combined with the highly physical nature of the game, God bless you Derrick Brown, took a lot of the bite out of the Dawgies. Here’s to figgerin’ that the home team will start slow and eventually come around to playing its game after spending much of the week in the hot tub. Georgia (-13.5) 28, Texas A&M 16.

BTW, we returned from the Holiday Inn coming back down College St. and turned right onto Glenn St. with the Gulf Station (Blew gasket, cut koner, Sani-Flush and all) on our right!

Ain’t life grand!

Y’all be safe out there and be sure to love you r neighbor as yourself!

Exits to “Hmm, Candida, just take my hand and I’ll lead ya, I promise life will be better, and it said so in my dreams…”

Week 12 SEC Picks: Rabbis, Cocaine, Alaburn, and more

Hits about to get really real, college football fans! There is a great deal of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth here in mid-November. Always is. Why is my team not ranked as the greatest of all time? We’re better than THEY are! Gary Danielson hates us. The CFP committee is biased toward the SEC! And I could go on and on and on. What-EVUH!!!

Get over yourself! Let the games play out. Pull for your team. Pull against whichever team puts your team in a more favorable position. There are bigger fish to fry. Put it in perspective. Go ahead. try. Come on… I’ll wait. Jeopardy theme songs plays…

HONK!!!!! TIME’S UP!!! Easier said than done, right? And I’m as guilty as anybody. That’s one of the things that makes NCAA football, and particularly SEC football (Wink), so great.

An aside. I’m listening to J.J. Cale’s “Troubadour” album on Apple Music, at this moment. ‘Travelin’ Light’, ‘Ride Me High’. “High high high, how high can you go? Ride me high this morning. Ride me high some more…,” ‘Cocaine’.

I can hear Johnny Cash now! “Stay off the whiskey and let that cocaine be!” Very good advice.

I never did any cocaine but that was only because the opportunity did not avail itself. Got lucky on that account. If you could drink it, smoke it, snort it, or rub it into your belly, I probably ingested it. And I lived to tell about it. Thank you Jesus!!! Literally! For real! PTL!

Speaking of ol’ JC, we are having a bible study at our church on Wednesdays, led by a Rabbi from Marietta. Albert Slomovitz. He is an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University and a retired military chaplain, among many other things. The study is on the Gospel of Matthew, looking at it through the eyes of Rabbi Jesus. Teaching Christians about the Jewish Jesus. It is delightful, insightful, and quite meaningful. The primary purpose is to connect us, for we all come from the same tree, Jews and Christians. Selah.

I say that to say this. We are all connected in this SEC football thing. Auburn and Alabama (or Alabama and Auburn for you Tiders), Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Georgia and Florida. Tennessee and Kentucky. You get the message.

I grew up playing Alaburn in the front yard and with electric football and board/card games. I would have Jimmy Sidle, Joe Namath, Tucker Frederickson, and Lee Roy Jordan all on the same team. It made perfect sense to me. It still should. We could use a little mutual admiration, love, and respect these days.

My daddy grew up during The Depression pulling for Alabama in the Rose Bowl and later in life pulled for both Auburn and Alabama, except when they played each other. I learned that from him and followed his example. I don’t do that much any more. I tend to pull for Auburn and whoever else to win, if it helps Auburn. I pulled for Alabama about as hard as one can when they played Miami in the Sugar Bowl that followed the 1992 season. It was GREAT fun!

All in all, it doesn’t really matter. Just stay safe out there and love your neighbor as yourself.

I usually close with that line, but somehow I got sidetracked. These things write themselves. I am only a mere vessel.

SEC FOOTBALL!!!!!!

Alabama (-18) vs. Mississippi State

Nick Saban’s Pachyderms make the short jaunt to lovely StarkVegas in an attempt to salve the wounds received last week during The Game of the Century. They fought back brilliantly, but, in the end Joe Burrow & Co. were too much for the hometown Tide. The Crimpsons might get off to a slow start, but look for them to rebound nicely against Joe Moorhead’s Bullies. Alabama 38, Miss State 17.

Florida (-6.5) vs. Missouri

The host Felines have been struggling mightily, as of late, and could use a big boost. This game with the Water Lizards would be a great opportunity to do just that. But alas, that is not the view in this prognosticator’s crystal ball. Danny Boy Mullen will have his Reptiles primed for the fight and Barry Odom’s forces won’t have enough in its arsenal to pull off the upset. Florida 31, Missouri 14.

Kentucky (-10) vs. Vanderbilt

The Cats are looking for a bowl bid. The Commodores are looking for Louis, Louis Chama, it appears. Derrick Mason might be looking for a job. Soon. Too bad. I like him. I like Chad Morris. I like Willie Taggert. Noooo matter. You gotta win. Or, at minimum, show a pulse. Vanderbilt is about to be chewed and clawed into submission by Mark Stopps’ version of the Fighting Felines. Kentucky 34, Vanderbilt 10.

LSU (-21) vs. Ole Miss

Ed Orgeron’s Bayou Bengals find themselves at the top of the college football heap, in all of the polls this week, after ending their eight year drought with Alley-Bama. The Louisiana Felines could have a slight emotional letdown following that monumental win in West Vance, but don’t expect it to be much of one. Matt Luke’s Black Rebel Bears will be as high the beautiful sky over Oxford Satday evenin’ but it won’t be enough to upset the visitors. LSU 42, Ole Miss 16.

South Carolina vs. Texas A&M (-10.5)

Jimbo Fisherman and Will (My fanny is gettin’ warm) Muschamp will match wits out in College Station, TX this Satday. If the Roosters lose they will be knocked out of the postseason festivities for the holidays. That won’t set well in Cockaboose Town. The Aggies will be making an effort to move up in that pecking order. The team of the 12th man is favored for a reason. They will win. Texas A&M 28, South Carolina 19.

Now we git down to bidness!

From the Loveliest Village of the Plains…

Georgia (-2.5) vs. Auburn

Hoo Hoooo, mercy!!! What a Jim Dandy this is shapin’ up to be! In this corner. From ‘Twixt the Hedges in Athens, GA. Coming in at number four in the United States of America. Buster Brown Smart and the GAWWWWWJA BUL-DAAAAWWWIES!!! AND! In THIS KONER! (Remember the Gulf Station on College Street. Traffic ticket. Old Yellow. Blew gasket. Et al). From ‘Neath the Sunkist sky! The Mad Scientist, Gustav Malzahn and his East Alabama Felines!!!! ROAR!!!! Lord! Turn ’em loose! DEE-Fense will abound! Jake Fromm Georgia will run for his life! Bo will Nix the Puppy defenders! Derrick will Brown and tan the hides of those Doggies! And Auburn! SWEEEEET AUBURN, will dash the playoff hopes of the visiting squad! Auburn 23, Georgia 21!

Drops mic and struts, stage left, with pumping fists, to the tune of Canned Heat’s ‘Let’s Work Together’!

War Damn Eagle!

The End!

SEC Week Nine Picks: Pork Skinned and Corn Dogs

Howdy howdy, there friends and neighbors, AND ALL you SEC college football fanatics! We are one wild and crazy lot!  Hooo Wee! Hit’s about to get gooooood ! (Be sure to say that last line aloud like Andy Grifith on his marvelous Ritz Cracker commercial). MmmmHmmm! Savor it! For there is about to be some savorin’ a goin’ on Satday! We got ourselves one big, fat giant game this weekend, along with a few tasty appetizers to open up your taste buds and whet your appetite for that Big One on the Bayou!

The past two weeks have seen your servant, and financial advisor, go 10-4, and that brings my record on the 2019 season to 57-14. That is a winning percentage of .802. As the season draws to a close and the games get tougher to forecast, the pct. tends to dip somewhat. But I do so want to hold it at 80% or above! Wish me luck as I dive into Saturday’s relatively small slate of games!

Let’s roll!

Alabama vs. Arkansas

After Auburn’s  fiery roasting of them Piggies out in northwest Arkansas, I don’t know what’s left of the carcass. But go ahead and break out the smokers in T-Town, as there should be a few smidgens remaining for Nick Saban’s Pachyderms. I have continued to hold out hope for Chad Morris to rebuild that program back into respectability, but the process is not going well, to say the least. The ‘Backs are 0-12 in the SEC under his leadership. Things are not improving at a rate anyone in Fayetteville can be remotely happy with. This week will, obviously,  provide not a shred of hope out in the Ozarks. Even without Tua, the Hawgs are no match, whatsoever ,for the hometown team. Alabama 42, Arkansas 14.

Kentucky vs. Missouri

Mark Stoops’ Fightin’ Felines were shutout on a miserable, wet night ’Twixt the Shrubs last Satday in Athens. The Cats might fare a wee bit better back in the friendly confines of Kroger Field, but don’t be giving the visitors any of those 10 for $10 specials to lap up on! Barry Odom’s bunch was totally embarrassed by Derrick Mason’s brainy and bright but, a bit,  thletically light, crew of Commodores. This week, I perceive that  Mizzou will rebound nicely as Kentucky continues to keep slip sliding away ($1 to Paul Simon). Missouri 27, Kentucky 17.

Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M

The Clangers had an off week to recover from their embarrassment at the hands of the Rocky Top Vowels back on October 12th. And Jeremy Pruitt’s squad did show some spunk down on The Capstone this past Satday. In the end they got second hand smoked by the Crimpson Tahd and them CEE-gars. But back to the Bullies. I cannot see the pride of StarkVegas traveling to Kyle Field and pulling off the upset in Aggieland. Jamesbo Fisher has still got a ways to go in getting things rebuilt out in Aggieland. A win this week would be another brick in that wall. All in all…Texas A&M 30, Miss State 17.

South Carolina vs. Tennessee

CAN Tennessee maintain its improvement at home? WILL Muschamp finally wind up with a blew gasket? (An aside here. Back in the late 80’s, we were living in Auburn when our DEE-luxe 1970 something Pontiac Astre went to a smokin’ and a belchin’ and gave up the ghost. The friendly folks at the Gulf station in downtown Auburn told us, “It looks like you got a blew gasket.” I certainly had no idea what color a gasket was, but I knew it sounded like trouble. (The Sherlock of automobile malfunctions that I am). Let’s revert our thoughts back to the business at hand, a pigskin clash in Knoxville, TN! (Speaking of blew. Coarch Muschamp thought them zebras blew a few too many whistles in beautiful Columbia, SC Satday, didn’t he? HAW!!!) Dadgummit, $1 to Bobby Bowden, football Bird! The Cocks will capitalize on the Moonshiners mishaps and secure another victory, which will bring their record back to .500 at 4-4. South Carolina 28, Tennessee 21.

Sound the ram’s horn! (Read that in a Psalm today). Dot dah dah DAAAAAHHHH!!! It’s time for the BIG Kahuna!!! (also love Pulp Fiction). THE feature game of the week!!! No. 9 at No. 2!!!

Auburn vs. LSU

The process of elimination picks up speed down in Red Stick, Satday, especially for the visitors. If Auburn loses it can kiss an SEC West division title goodbye. The Bayou Bengals would still have a shot if they lost, but won the remainder of their games. Something has to give.

In other words, this one is LARGE!

Things have gone miserably, in this game, for the East Alabama Tigers over the last 20 years in Baton Rouge. Nine losses in-a-row. Some of those games, 2005, 2007, and 2017 most noteworthy, were obviously due to VooDoo. That’s the only way it can be explained. And… the annual VooDoo Fest is being held in New Orleans this weekend. That don’t bode well for good ole AU. Whether it’s five missed field goals, a last gasp, last second, desperation pass into the end zone, or a comeback from a 20-0 deficit, LSWho has been extremely fortunate. The Cigar Game Curse? I don’t know. All I know is gloom, despair and agony follow Auburn to Death Valley like nothing I can remember in the history of football on The Plains.

The home team is a 10.5 point favorite, as we speak, on this Thursday afternoon. And a fine one it is! The forecast is for rain on Satday. I won’t reiterate the the numbers, angles, etc, of this game. LSU is arguably the best team in the country. Auburn has a very good football team. It will get even better as we move into November. Auburn plays ALL of its remaining games in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. That’s great! This game is being played in Tiger Stadium. That is not great at all.

Both teams will be ready. Auburn will not back down one inch. LSU will not flinch. SEC football at its best! Barnburner! Donnybrook! Stemwinder! All of these superlatives should apply.

In the end, you have a senior, Heisman candidate quarterback vs. a wonderfully gifted and gutty true freshman. As mush, AS MUCH as I literally ache for my loved Auburn Tigers to steal one from the host Tigers. it’s hard to see without help on turnovers, penalties, etc. LSU 27, Auburn 24.

Dear 7 lb. 8 oz. baby Jesus! Please PLEASE let me be wrong!

Before we go, here are the lines for the games we just previewed:

Alabama -31.5; Missouri -10; Texas A&M -10; South Carolina -4.5; LSU -10.5 (But you knew that).

She’s a wrap. Pray for Auburn, call your mama, read your bible, take care out there, and, of course, love your neighbor as yourself!

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!