Remember Friday's mailbag and the UT-UGA contest (send us your score and you could win stuff).
From the "Talks too much studios," here we go...
Refs are coming back
Oh, Ed Hoculi, bring those sweet guns back to America's living room on Sunday. And the black guy that never smiles. And the old guy that wears his hat funny. They're all coming home.
The NFL and the regular referees have settled their contract dispute and have ended their lockout. Yay.
Roger Goodell and the league was forced to make a slew of concessions after Monday night's debacle and the game winning touchdown — dubbed by some as the "Inaccurate Reception" — turned a Packers' win into a Seahawks' win and flipped roughly $300 million in bets.
So with the league's back to the wall — the replacement refs were leading national news broadcasts and even drew comment from the president — they caved. Call it paying the price for not having a better plan in place for this entire debacle
Now the regular refs will return this week. In fact a seven-man crew of the regular refs will be at the Cleveland-Baltimore game tonight.
And if you're wondering whether these guys are going to be ready or in game shape, well, they dang well better be. They have watched what has happened and knew this was going to happen at the drop of a flag.
Fab 4 (plus 1) picks
We rebounded last week with a 4-1 showing. Well-played indeed. We're 13-7 on the season, and while we're off pace of last year's smoking showing, we are 1-0 in Clemson games this year. Super Clemson.
OK, we made some wise picks with Georgia and Florida last week and found some fortune with a trio of Tigers — Clemson getting the 14 and the LSU-Auburn under. Yeah 5-at-10.
This week, we're not deviating from the plan or the preferred partners. Hang on and buckle up.
Georgia minus-13 against Tennessee: The bad news for Johnny Vols Fan keeps coming in waves. Vegas gives UT just two more points against the Bulldogs than Vandy. We think it will be closer than the 48-3 smackdown Georgia put on Vandy, but it will still be a fairly easy cover. And if you're looking for something to watch, gaze at this Georgia defense, which will have four projected first-rounders if Alec Ogletree plays.
Texas A&M minus-13 against Arkansas: OK, remember last year when the 5-at-10 was making picks and we all were making money (in an entertainment purposes only kind of monetary reward, of course)? Well, we had some success riding the stud ducks like Stanford, Alabama and LSU. But we had unworldly success riding the dud ducks like Memphis and MTSU. This year's dud duck? Hello Arkansas and John L. Smith. The Hogs have lost three straight for the first time since 2008 and are counting on a senior quarterback who called his teammates quitters while he was injured and returned to lead this team to a nine-point loss to Rutgers. The Hogs are 0-4 against the spread, and when it comes to betting here's a simple equation: dumpster fire + interim coach = ATM.
Georgia Tech minus-27 against MTSU: Call this a Spy hunch. Georgia Tech had an awful week after blowing a very winnable game against Miami last Saturday. Georgia Tech's defense has been worked in practice after allowing 600 yards to Miami. This one screams 56-7. To make matters worse for MTSU, when Tech builds a comfortable lead even if they try to call off the dogs the Jackets will run the ball, which is their regular offense. Normally betting ACC games is like playing Russian roulette (for entertainment purposes only of course), but this feels more like shooting fish in the barrel.
West Virginia against Baylor over the 81: We have a picker's crush on the Mountaineers, we can admit that. Maybe it's the John Denver song after scores or burning couches after wins, who knows. This we feel good about: Baylor is 3-0 but has allowed 29.7 points per game against the less-than-murderers'-row of SMU, Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe. Read that last sentence again, and know that the over-under on this game is 81. Yes, 81. The Mountaineers are going to score at least 50 and we'll take our chances from there. Remember, when a line looks too good to be true it is.
Clemson minus-9 at Boston College: There were several games we liked somewhat, but we figured we'd ride the hot hand. Super Clemson.
Georgia-UT tale of the tape
The comparisons can be a little easier to handle when you break them down head-to-head. Let's take a look at how UT and UGA stack up:
Tennessee: David Keith
Georgia: Kim Basinger
Edge: UGA by a mile. Basinger has won an Academy Award; Keith was the guy who hung himself in "Officer and a Gentleman."
COUNTRY MUSIC CONNECTION
Tennessee: Kenny Chesney and an honorary doctorate to Dolly Parton
Georgia: Jason Aldean and Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland
Edge: UT. Even though Chesney did not go to school there, he's a huge UT guy. Plus, it's Dolly Parton for crying out loud, and who knew we should have been calling her Dr. Dolly Parton?
Tennessee: Alex Haley, Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut
Georgia: Lewis Grizzard
Edge: UT. Grizzard is great and all but that's a power trio for the Vols that may be the best in the SEC, Ole Miss and Faulkner included.
Tennessee: Smokey, the blue-tick hound
Georgia: UGA the bulldog
Edge: UGA by a lot. First off, the Vols are Volunteers, not blue-tick hounds. Which begs the question, why does Auburn get so much grief about being the Tigers and having an eagle fly in before games when several teams in the SEC are just as mascot-schizophrenic? Alabama is the Crimson Tide but they have an elephant on the field. Tennessee is the Volunteers but they have a hound dog. Ole Miss is the Rebels but they have a Rebel Black Bear roaming the sideline, and that's not counting former coach Ed Orgeron. Plus, UGA the dog has been on the cover of SI and is such a stud, he gets people to bring him bags of ice to cool his stuff and every time they show him cooling his junk on TV, UGA almost smiles.
MASCOTS (in costume)
Tennessee: Some dude dressed like Davy Crockett
Georgia: Harry Dawg
Edge: UT. OK, hear us out. We were ready to pick Harry Dawg because at least his outfit is supposed to be silly. Dude in the coon-skin cap has a tough row to hoe, right? That's a tall order to make that get up look cool. Well, then it dawned on us that Davy Crockett-wannabe is strapped with a musket. And when in doubt between sides, always go with the group with better weapons.
Tennessee: Butt chugging
Georgia: Arriving to the game in the second quarter
Edge: UGA by a mile. The story this week about the UT fraternity guys shooting wine into their rectum to get drunk quicker — one kid was rushed to hospital as his blood-alcohol level reached 0.40, or five times the legal level of intoxication — begs a ton of questions. Who thought of it? ("Hey Blaine, I've got this crazy idea about how we can drink that $4 bottle of wine.) How would you suggest it to your friends? (Say, Avery, are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yes, let's butt chug.) And if you were going to use beer rather than wine, would the choice be Heineken or Blue Moon? Hey, better late to the game and never having to call your parents and explain what butt chugging is.
TOP NFL PROSPECTS
Tennessee: Justin Hunter
Georgia: Jarvis Jones
Edge: UGA. Hunter is a first-rounder receiver that can make big plays with the ball in the air. Jones is potentially the No. 1 overall pick that must be accounted for on every snap.
This and that
— The Ryder Cup is this weekend and we have high hopes.
— The Braves kept rolling on Wednesday, blanking the Miami Marlins 3-0. Craig Kimbrel pitched the final inning for his 40th save and struck out four Marlins in the ninth. Dan Uggla stole home, which means Dan Uggla got on base. It was obviously a pretty strange night in Atlanta.
— To continue, can we talk about how flippin' awesome in his awesomeness Kimbrel is right now? In his last 10 appearances he has three wins and seven saves and has fanned 19 and walked one in 10 innings. Dude is the definition of shutdown right now. Nevermind he's the best bargain in sports. Kimbrel makes $590,000 and is 40-of-43 in save chances with a 1.04 ERA and 111 Ks in 60.1 innings. Conversely, Marlins closer Heath Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million deal before the season and has lost his job as the closer, is 19-of-26 on save chances with a 5.11 ERA and 57 Ks in 61.2 innings.
— To wrap up a fair question from late Wednesday about Kevin Costner being the best sports actor of all time, LaughingBoy wanted to know who was second between Cruise ("The Color of Money," "All the Right Moves," "Jerry Maguire," "Days of Thunder"), Newman ("The Color of Money," "Slapshot," "The Hustler," "Winning") and Woody Harrelson ("Wildcats," "White Men Can't Jump," "Kingpin," "Play it to the Bone," "Semi-Pro"). First, we view Costner as the best in terms of high-quality sports movies. Harrelson has a nice list of credits to his sports movie resume, and we'd likely rank Wesley Snipes ("Wildcats," "Major League," "White Men Can't Jump" and "The Fan") a slight notch above Woody. As for bonus points in real life, Snipes also followed the all-too-familiar sports path of blowing all his money and sadly recently celebrated his 50th birthday in federal prison on tax charges. Say it ain't so, Willie Mays Hays.
Heading into the week, we thought Georgia was going to whip Tennessee. For some reason, our opinion is starting to soften some.
Yes, we believe the Bulldogs are still a good bet at minus-13, but something tells us this game may be tighter than we thought.
Here are the predictions so far:
Stewwie — UGA 31-14
StuckinKent — UGA 38-20
TennFlyer — UGA 42-20
McPell — UGA 37-18
FEChancellor — UGA 31-20
Addictedtochalupa — UGA 45-17
LaughingBoy — UGA 35-20
Todd962 — UT 31-28
Spy — 44-17
Tiger — UGA 34-27
5-at-10 — UGA 41-21
Mrs. 5-at-10 — UGA 30-17
ThatIdoKnow — UT 28-24
OTWatcher — UGA 34-20
Fred — UGA 49-10
Joe — UT 34-27
AUbeliever — LSU 12-10 (we thought this was a nice touch)
If you want in, bring it. Does anyone else get the feeling this one may be closer than almost all of us think?
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 ...