In a steel cage! And after falling behind early the SEC has jumped out to a big lead! Beginning Sep-TEM-ber 26th! In a Southern state near you! Be there! Oops! Delete. I won’t be there and neither will you, most likely. The folks in Vegas just might, somewhere, have a line on when and where or IF the gates will open, to any degree, to the public. Place your bets!!!
To quote the band nearest and dearest to my heart, the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been!” Ya reckon’!!! 2020 has been one for the ages, to say the very least. I think I can safely say to each and every one of you of you friends and passionate followers of the Southeastern Conference, and even if you’re not, 2020 has been trying in a multitude of ways we could never have imagined. My thoughts and prayers go out to you all.
Ok, before I get too sappy, let us get down to the ever so important business at hand. College football. Hallelujah! It is here! I can picture Gene Wilder from the sidesplittingly humorous motion picture, Young Frankenstein. “It’s ALIVE! It’s ALIVE! It’s ALIVE!” Maybe not in all of its glory, but in enough of it to light my fire (a nod to The Doors).
Let’s pick ’em!
Florida (-13.5) vs. Ole Miss
The *Water Lizards will be writhing in anticipation as they await the arrival of a sparkling new, young coach who now heads up the home team from Old Mississipp’. The highly imaginative Lane Kiffin will, no doubt, bring a full arsenal of firepower into Gainesville, but Dan Mullen, also once a head coach in the Magnolia State, will be ready for it. You can count on it. His squad is not ranked number five for no reason. Many, including yours truly, have picked the Gators to unseat The Peach State Pups as champions of the ever improving SEC East. Florida 37, Ole Miss 20.
LSU (-16.5) vs. Mississippi State
Here is another intriguing matchup to take place within the borders of the great state of Mississippi. StarkVegas and her version of bull pups will play host to the defending NCAA National Champions. And they also have a sparkling new, but not so young, head coach in Mike Leach. The Pirate will be spinning tales and plotting an overthrow of the Bayou Bengals. Son/daughter, that is a tall order and certainly a not the game one would champion as an upset special. Coach O’s aggregation has lost a plethora of players to the NFL and COVID but remain quite talented. This could be a tight one for a bit, but no dice on the upset. LSU 31, Mississippi State 16.
OOPS 1! Sorry, the Tyguz do not get to make the trip to beautiful Starkville. This one is in Baton Rouge. How did I “fumble” on this? Beats me. My wife says I’m getting old. Don’t believe her. Well, I ain’t no spring chicken anymore! That’s for shore! You just have to shrug your shoulders and laugh sometimes. War Eagle!
Georgia (-27.5) vs. Arkansas
Speaking of sparkling new head coaches, we’ve got ourselves another up in the Ozarks of The Natural State. Sam Pittman, oddly enough, spent the past four seasons (Oh, how I sometimes miss one of my other lifetimes, as a Field Inspector for AAA, with perks like evaluating/staying at facilities such as the Four Seasons) on the UGA sideline as offensive line coach. Coach Pittman may or may not get it done in Fayetteville, but I’ll betcha the Piggies will be snortin’ to go Satday. No matter. Kirby Smart’s Bulldawgies are far too talented for the Hawgs and will prevail by a goodly margin. Georgia 38, Arkansas 10
Alabama (-27.5) vs. Missouri
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Missouri’s Mildcats also have, say it with me, a sparkling new head coach in, this isn’t easy, Eliah Drinkwitz. As in, after one has spent too many hours at a bar and throwing them back with a friend, “I think I’ll havz anutter drinkwitz you. ” Hoo hoo, mercy! Eliah might be longing for the beautiful vistas of Boone, NC, where he was the head coach at Appalachian State after getting pounded into submission by the Pachyderms. The most interesting aspect of the clash could be just how hard and heavy Nick Saban wants his Tide to roll out in Columbia, MO. And it will. Alabama 42, Missouri 9
Texas A&M (-31) vs. Vanderbilt
Another Vegas hosting a football game this week. And this one’s first name is Nash (Remember Nash Bridges? I don’t. But I never watched Miami Vice either. No disrespect to Don Johnson.) Jimbo Fisher (Jim Morrison’s moniker with his bandmates, when he was drinking, was Jimbo), marches his troops eastward to the Capital of Tennessee. I would advise him, his boys, and Aggie fans not to partake of beer or wine, by the glass, in downtown Music City as there is now a 23% additional tax on those beverage servings. No, greed is not good, Gordon Gecko. And here would be a place to remind all of you playing at home to have the Google app close to you if you’re not picking up on all my silly references. Ok, those few tidbits will be infinitely more interesting, and certainly more entertaining, than the thrashing the Commodores will receive on Satday night. Texas A&M 41, Vanderbilt 12.
OOPS 2! What’s up with the “Vegas” games. No, this one will be played in College Station. But wasn’t all the Nashville stuff fun? You wouldn’t have been warned about that 23% by the drink tax had I not screwed this one up!
Tennessee (-3.5) vs. South Carolina
Jeremy Pruitt will lead the Volunteers into another Columbia this Satday. This particular one is in the Palmetto State. And we should probably see one of the better games of the day with Will Muschamp’s Cocks providing some stiff competition. It’s getting to be put up or shut up time down in Car-o-line. Part of me really wants to pick the home team, but I think the Vols will manage to escape this trap. Tennessee 24, South Carolina 21.
Tot da da daaaaaah!!!! Hit’s the big one, Aunti M! At least in the mind of your humble pundit.
Kentucky vs. Auburn (-7.5)
Yes! From the Loveliest Village of the Plains! The only SEC contest with two ranked teams in action! It’s a Feline Fest, to be sure, as Gus Malzahn’s eighth ranked Auburn Tigers do battle with Mark Stoops’ Wildcats! HAW! And if you don’t think this is a dangerous game with a potential upset lurking in the shadows, then you had better think again. The visitors bring an experienced, talented, and physical football team into Jordan-Hare Stadium in the the first SEC game of the 2020 season. Hitch ’em up and buckle ’em down. We’re looking at one Keith Jackson would describe as a “dandy!” Auburn, quite frankly, is loaded at the skill positions, and sophomore quarterback, Bo Nix, has emerged as a driven, motivated, and vocal leader on this, Malzahn’s eighth edition of the Auburn Tigers. The big question is whether or not the O line can get it done. They are talented and experienced, despite what some others might say. They just haven’t played together yet as a unit and need time to jell. That could spell for some bumps in the road in this game which is also a morning kickoff. The defense could be better than last season. That might come as a surprise to many. But make no mistake. There is a great deal of talent, and some depth and experience, on the front seven. They should hold up nicely. And the secondary is VERY talented with some good depth there also. Kicking game? Rock solid with the return of Anders Carlson, great return men, and highly capable punters. The Tigers are my sleeper to make the playoffs and if that is to have even a remote chance of happening, or to at least win the West, then it has to start on Satday. It will. Auburn 27, Kentucky 20.
There you have it, sports fans! Your guide to fortune and fame. As Jeff Schultz, formerly of the AJC, used to say “I’ve provided you with all the winners. All you have to do is find them.”
Stay safe out there and be sure to love your neighbor as yourself!
P.S. You don’t want to wind up with a blew gasket or a cut koner! (Hint. See last year’s columns).
P.S.S. The * inserted above, in the column and preceding the term Water Lizards, denotes a term, and not the only one, I stole from Leonard Post Toasties, as I did in 2019, of Leonard’s Losers. Every column is a tribute to Leonard. Other than the games and the tailgating, Leonard’s Losers was the thing I looked most forward to on fabulous fall weekends in the South. Peace out!
P.S.S.S. Here is my blog on how the SEC will play out, both the East and West.