SEC Football vs. The Corona Virus: Part Deux

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

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

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

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

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

Bowling Green at Tennessee (-37)

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

UL Monroe at Kentucky (-31)

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

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

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

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

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

Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State (-23)

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

Central Michigan at Missouri (-14)

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

Eastern Illinois at South Carolina (No line)

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

FAU at Florida (-23.5)

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

Kent State at Texas A&M (-29)

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

ETSU at Vanderbilt (no line again)

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

LSU (-2.5) at UCLA

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

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

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

Akron at Auburn (-37)

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

On to the Big One!

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

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

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

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

Poll Cats-R U Hip To The Rankings Scene?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Oklahoma (OK!)

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

5. Georgia (On Clemson’s mind.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Wisconsin (Wisky River take my mind.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEC Media Days Final and 2021 Prediction

Company’s Comin’!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East

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

West

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

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

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

And War Damn Eagle!

Iron Bowl Musings: The Auburn-Alabama Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEC Football: Reelin’ But Still Rockin’

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

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

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

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

Alabama (-21.5) vs. Tennessee

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

Kentucky (-5.5) vs. Missouri

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

South Carolina vs. LSU (-6)

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

Auburn (-3) vs. Ole Miss

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

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

Peace out!

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

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

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

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

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

Y’all wit me?

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

Florida (-6.5) vs. Texas A&M

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

Missouri vs. LSU (-14.5)

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

South Carolina (-13) vs. Vanderbilt

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

Tennessee vs. Georgia (-12)

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

Alabama (-24) vs. Ole Miss

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

Mississippi State vs. Kentucky (-2.5)

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

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

Arkansas vs. Auburn (-14)

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

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

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

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

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

Next week! Batman vs. Mr. Freeze!

Peace out!





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s so easy! (“To fall in love…”).

Let’s do dis!!!

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

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

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

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

South Carolina vs. Florida (-17.5)

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

Missouri vs. Tennessee (-12)

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

Texas A&M vs. Alabama (-18)

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

Ole Miss vs. Kentucky (-6)

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

Arkansas vs. Mississippi State (-17)

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

LSU (-21) vs. Vanderbilt

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

And on to the BIG ONE!

Auburn vs. Georgia (-7.5)

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

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

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

Peace out, peeps!



SEC Football vs. The Corona Virus

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

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

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

Let’s pick ’em!

Florida (-13.5) vs. Ole Miss

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

LSU (-16.5) vs. Mississippi State

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

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

Georgia (-27.5) vs. Arkansas

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

Alabama (-27.5) vs. Missouri

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

Texas A&M (-31) vs. Vanderbilt

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

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

Tennessee (-3.5) vs. South Carolina

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

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

Kentucky vs. Auburn (-7.5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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