published Thursday, November 1st, 2012

5-at-10: Fab 4 picks, UT and great Halloween costumes

Hopefully each of you had a safe and fun Halloween. It was a big time at the 5-at-10 compound. Our boy was a smooth firefighter, our daughter was a homemade owl, the Mrs. 5-at-10 was a photographer and we were the Ghost of Auburn football (bed sheet, Auburn visor — pretty easy actually).

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's do the mash, let's do the Monster Mash...

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    Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) runs against Arizona State during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Fab 4 (plus 1) picks

Our picks have been called a slew of different things so far this year, including a few off-the-wall attempts by the crew at SportTalk on 102.3 FM.

We're pretty pleased that more frequently than not, our Fab 4 (plus 1) picks have been called winners. Let's hope it continues, and remember gang, these are for entertainment purposes only — and at 31-14-2 against the spread, that can buy a lot of entertainment.

Oregon minus-7 at USC: Buy the half here, and know that the Ducks must be especially motivated for this game. Look at the factors: Best unit on the field — Oregon's offense, by a wide margin; Best past motivation — USC beat Oregon last year and wrecked the Ducks' season; Best future motivation — Oregon is No. 4 in the BCS despite rolling its foes, and this figures to be the last time the Ducks can impress; Best computer motivation: Oregon needs to hang a number on USC since in a few weeks the Trojans will face Notre Dame, and the Irish are currently one spot in front of Oregon in the polls. (We like the over 70 on this one, too.)

Washington plus-5 at California: Washington is a somewhat disappointing 4-4, but those four losses are to USC and at Oregon, at LSU and at Arizona. Plus, Cal's best player — receiver Keenan Allen is doubtful — a fact that makes the under 53 attractive, too.

Vandy minus-7 at Kentucky: Buy the half. Something just feels squirrelly about taking Vandy as a road favorite in an SEC game, but we'd buy the half and take our chances. Vandy has a chance to do something special; Kentucky has not chance to save their coach's job.

Clemson minus-13.5 at Duke: Last year we were 1-8-1 in games that involved Clemson, highlighted by their bowl game — we had Clemson; they gave up 70; WVU won easily; we lost entertainment. This year we're 4-0 with Clemson because they have covered in every game against a BCS-conference foe (6-0 against the spread). Plus, there are three tiers of athletic ability in ACC football: There's the top tier, where FSU and Clemson reside; there's the completely unpredictable tier where UNC, Miami, Va. Tech and occasionally Georgia Tech reside; then there's the rest. Duke, even at an impressive 6-3, is among that third tier.

La-Monroe minus-10 against La-Lafayette: Our weekly computer viewing, compare scores and match-ups and go off feel game. Buy the half, and we like the Monroe offense — a lot — in this battle of La-La-La-La-La. This is the musical match-up that pays special tribute to LaSalle, the man who named Louisiana when he spotted it coming down the Mississippi River. Side note: Did you know "Lalala" is in the urban dictionary as the term used when there is a extended and awkward silence in a group conversation? Interesting. Here's saying that there are frequently more than a few "lalalas" when Derek Dooley and Dave Hart pass each other in the hall.

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And for the Bonus pick

We have to pick LSU-Alabama, right? It's in our contract. Well if we had a contract, that is.

OK, let's break this thing down old school:

Coaches

LSU: Les Miles, known for his huge hat, chewing grass, clapping his hands without touching his fingers (watch his famous palm-clap sometime, ti's awesome), and winning games at the end.

Alabama: Nick Saban, known for his huge love of Oatmeal Creme Pies, chewing the faces of reporters, making players disappear by waving his fingers, and winning games at the beginning, middle and end, but always winning games.

Edge: Alabama. That said, here's hoping Tracy Wolfson gets to interview Les before the half on the way to the locker room and recaps her "chat" with Lord Saban.

Offense

LSU: Sketchy line that has been injured makes it tough on a talented stable of backs; quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been less Zach Morris, star of "Saved by the Bell" and more Dewey Oxenberger from "Stripes." LSU fans can tell you this is not a fun thing to watch.

Alabama: The nation's best offensive line blocks for a stable of future NFL runners; quarterback A.J. McCarron, who until this year made the most noise with a head-scratching chest tat, has become a legit Heisman candidate. Alabama fans can tell you this is a fun thing to watch.

Edge: Alabama. Duh. If your quarterback is being compared to a John Candy character, that's not a good thing.

Defense

LSU: A defensive line stocked with three projected NFL first rounders — Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Bennie Logan — give the Tigers the freedom to do a lot of stuff. Plus, anytime Barkevious Levon Mingo is involved, it's a good thing, because Levon, Levon likes his money. He'll make a lot they say.

Alabama: Blah, Blah, Blah. Best in the nation. Ugh, Ugh. Slew of first rounders. Humph, humph. Ton of talent and more on the way. Side question: Does it get a little bit boring being an Alabama fan?

Edge: Alabama has the numbers; LSU has Barkevious. We call it a push.

Intangibles:

LSU: Death Valley at night is a special place that can mean special things. Miles — the trickster known as the Mad Hatter who is part Rain Man, part Mark Twain, part Knute Rockne — has had as much success against Saban as anyone in recent years, including wins in each of the last two regular seasons.

Alabama: Talent everywhere is hardly an intangible, but that river of talent has the Tide surfing on white caps of confidence rarely seen in the modern era of college football. That confidence — and the Tide's never-ending depth — will serve them well Saturday.

Prediction: Alabama 31, LSU 13

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Around college football

Spending Wednesday discussing Halloween, has us off schedule. We've under-evaluated some of the college games of interest across the South. We'll have some more in Friday's mailbag, but here's a quick five-pack of games this Saturday:

Troy at Tennessee: Something screams "Closer than expected" in this one, right? Troy's offense has scored 24 or more points in seven of its eight games. And Tennessee's defense, well, the only time you can mention Tennessee's defense and the 1985 Bears in the same sentence is, "None of the players on the Tennessee defense were born when the 1985 Bears were playing."

New Mexico State at Auburn: Speaking of "Closer than expected." Auburn's offense is dead and it's turning to a true freshman quarterback who will be making his first start. This against a NMSt team that held one of the nation's top offenses in La. Tech to 28 points last week.

Ole Miss at Georgia: Who's done a better job this year for his fan base than Hugh Freeze? Freeze has the Rebels a win from bowl eligibility with four games left. Granted there still is work to do considering three of those games are against Georgia, Miss. State and LSU, which have a combined xx-xx record. Still, the only people who are more pleased with Freeze are the people who wager entertainment on the Rebels, who are 7-1 against the spread this year, including five straight covers.

UTC at Western Carolina: A true gut-punch loss last week surely left a lingering — and stinging — mark. Four even quarters, three OTs, two special teams debacles = 1 gut-busting loss. So it goes. So, too, does the schedule go and go and go. So the Mocs have to push their chips back in and take their swings. This should be a win. In fact, anything less is no longer acceptable. (And that's high praise for Russ Huesman and Co.)

Georgia Tech at Maryland: After the stink bomb the Jackets laid in Atlanta last week, a road game may not be the worst thing in the world for Paul Johnson and Co.

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This and that

— Would you pay James Harden $80 million and make him your franchise guy? Seriously, do you think Harden is the lead show pony of an NBA champion. We say no.

— We have had some good Halloween costumes in our time, but we must admit that former U.S. Paralympic skier Josh Sundquist is the Halloween master. This year, Sundquist went as the lamp from "A Christmas Story" and in year's past as gone as the Ginger Bread Man in "Shrek" and as a pirate. Check out the photo to the right. Well-played, sir. Well-played indeed.

— Tim Tebow has a girlfriend. OK, let us know when he has a reliable, accurate throw he can complete in the NFL on a regular basis.

— Jerry Sandusky was sent to Greene State Prison, a maximum security prison that houses death row inmates in the southwest part of Pennsylvania. The joint is known as "Supermax" and Sandusky will be kept in isolation for his protectioon for most of his 30-to-60 year stay in state custody.

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Today's question

Let's deal with some more numbers:

What's your prediction on how many UT fans attend Saturday's Vols-Troy mega-watt matchup?

Remember to consider several factors: The weather figures to be nice, and God bless the noon kickoff (friend of sports writers and church-goers alike, and believe or not, there are some that fall into BOTH groups).

That said, the level of disinterest right now is supremely high and growing. And Spy bar the door if they struggle against Troy (which is distinctly possible) about what will be waiting for Missouri the following week. As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote today, apathy is the general description of the Vols fan base right now.

OK, knowing that there are 102,455 seats in Neyland. And knowing that the announced figure is tickets sold rather than actual fannies in seats, we're setting the over/under on announced attendance Saturday at 80,000. Whatcha got, over or under the 80K?

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

We don't know if Tebow has even completed a pass to his girlfriend.

Tip of the derby to Dade County's state champions.

November 1, 2012 at 10:13 a.m.
Blueoval said...

Jay, I don't want this to turn into a big political debate but for something like the last 47 out of 48 years that the Washington Redskins have won the Sunday before the election, the incumbent has won re-election to the White House. With that said, the Skins play host to Cam Newton and the Panthers this Sunday. How's it looking for a Washington defeat?

November 1, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Speaking of your contract, you are obligated to at least once a day discuss the potential vacancy of Tennessee football coaching, which you subtly did in paragraph 9.

Also loved the Elton John reference. He shall be Levon.

If you're going to be any John Candy character, are you the dad in The Great Outdoors (opposite Dan Aykroyd's Roman ... and whatever happened to Lucy Deakins, the girl who played the little hot pants shooting pool John Candy's son gets entangled with?) or are you ... and I know the 5 will love this one ...

Uncle Buck.

November 1, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: Great analysis on the UT-Troy St game. We say take the under. As we stated earlier this week Troy St. was looking ahead this past weekend when they played Florida Atlantic and got upset. They only lost by 6 to Mississippi St. So there could be an upset brewing and alot of Johnny Vols Fans are hoping the Vols get beat so Dooley will be gone. I believe I saw the Ghost of Auburn Football and he had a bunch of holes in him.

November 1, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We feel that if he decided to throw a lot of passes to the ladies, Tebow's completion percentage would be through the roof.

And yes, top of the cap to all state title winners — that's something you can forever say and all the other folks who played high school sports will respect. "We won state."

Oval —

If those odds hold, who knew it was possible for Cam Newton to carry the weight of Auburn and the Republican Party in 24 months. Talk about a lot of conservative white guys pulling for Cam.

Spy —

If you are big-hearted, well-meaning lug (Uncle as in Buck or companion as in Planes, Trains and Automobiles), then the John Candy comparisons are fine.

If you are a good-hearted Patriot as in Canadian Bacon, the Candy comparisons are fine.

If you are an SEC QB, John Candy is not the comparison you want.

747 —

Yes, the Ghost of Auburn football has a few holes. There's one at QB. There's one in the OC chair. There's, well, there's a few. And likely more coming.

— 5-at-10

November 1, 2012 at noon
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Just like to point out that Mitch Barnhart (AD at UK) came out with some statements on Joker yesterday. Yes, it read as a little bit of a vote of confidence. But it also read a little bit like, "Screw you. The basketball program is making tons of money, and there have been so many injuries this year, we're going to keep Joker around to see what we can do with them if they stay healthy next year. You all don't care anyway. I've got Coach Cal here smiling beside me."

I'm telling you, it's much more of a sure thing in Lexington that Joker gets fired than it appears to be to in Chattanooga. Maybe it's not seeing the forest for the trees. I don't know. But I would put the chances Joker is back next year at 50/50 right now. I would put the chances Dooley is back at 50/50. Same seat.

November 1, 2012 at 12:02 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Ten Ring, my friends call me "Mr. Vegas."

Bama at LSU turnover over/under 1. "Mr. Vegas" takes 0.

Neyland Stadium Attendance is your 80k. "Mr. Vegas" takes the over if the Knox County Dention Center is emptied on a four hour parole.

I put much thought into hanging a effigy of Dooley from my balcony last night. His orange pants were just too damn expensive.

I've heard something of Signal's opponent on Friday night, Page High School. They are said to run an effective four wide offense, however defense is their load stone. This sounds like Signal at the begin this season. The Eagles are much improved on defense now.

"Mr. Vegas" sez Signal -13.

Ten Ring, did enjoy your high school football breakdown with Mr. Hargis. You certainly upgraded your wardrobe to what looked to be an Egyptian cotton ecru starched button down under a well selected tie and Masters sweater vest. Did you just come back from court?

November 1, 2012 at 12:56 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

5/10 - If TN and Auburn lose this weekend, are we looking at 2 vacancies before Sunday morning recaps on ESPN? Or are they dead men walking?

And yes, there will be some former Cam haters pulling for him this weekend.

November 1, 2012 at 12:58 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stuck —

Barnhart may have Joker's back now, but the thousands of UK fans dressed as bleachers tell a far different tale. Maybe there's not enough passion to run Joker, and if that's the case, the terrorist have own in regard to UK football.

The primary defense of Jokers is "He's a really good guy" and that carries even less weight than the Dooley fav "He inherited a mess."

FE to the C —

We were speaking to the QB Club on Monday, so we decided to look the part for a change.

We'd take the Eagles and lay the points. We'd take the over on 80K announced, too, but the under on number of folks in the building Saturday in the 865. We'll take the over 1 on TOs Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

Side note: Anyone see the news that for Braves pitcher Pascual Perez was killed in a home invasion? Sad stuff.

— 5-at-10

November 1, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.
jgreeson said...

McPell —

If UT and Auburn lose Saturday, the news may come before Sunday — remember both those games are lunchtime kicks.

Dooley may be allowed to finish the season; Chizik would not be allowed to pass go and would not collect $200 (he would get the $7.5 million buyout though).

— 5-at-10

November 1, 2012 at 1:07 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

In honor of I-285 Perez, and of Champ Summers, who also passed away recently, there is this:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20233025&c_id=mlb

November 1, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Would you pay James Harden $80 million and make him your franchise guy? Seriously, do you think Harden is the lead show pony of an NBA champion. We say no.]

I don't think so, but he is the best Houston has now. And they knew they'd need to pony up the $$$ to get him to sign the extension. Otherwise, why trade for him? An interesting tidbit on Harden...SI said in last week's issue that he is the most efficient player in the NBA with the pick and roll. Not sure if Houston uses that play a lot on offense or not, but Harden had a higher points-per-possession with that play than any other player in the league last year. Judging from his 37-point debut with the Rockets last night, he just might give the Rockets some good bang for their buck.

I find the Redskins Rule pretty interesting although it obviously has nothing to do with the actual outcome of the election (or so we think). Is Obama still the favorite in the (entertainment) betting circles? I think Romney will win the popular vote, but it's very possible for him to still lose the election, especially if he doesn't pick up Ohio. All that said, go Panthers! (Just in case.)

November 1, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Remember fondly that game, even the part of Bob Horner with a cast on his arm coming out of the clubhouse.

Also remember Perez getting lost and missing a game because he kept driving on 285 because he never saw Fulton County Stadium. And the time when Lasorda made the ump make Perez take his jewelry off.

Good times.

Stewwie —

Fair point, and maybe Harden is not an $80 million alpha dog, but he may be the best lead player on the market.

As for the stat of Harden being the most effective on the pick and role, well, that could be considering he's running it with someone like Kevin Durant.

And yes, 37 was a nice debut.

The Redskins rule is pretty intriguing, and your breakdown matches our forecast — Romney winning the popular vote; Obama winning the dated Electoral College.

— 5-at-10

November 1, 2012 at 1:53 p.m.
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