published Friday, December 27th, 2013

5-at-10: Mailbag, final Christmas fun and Jadeveon Clowney NFL star or NASCAR prodigy?

As we told you on Christmas, because we do what we do, we're here for the die-hard regulars, even on post-Christmas-Day 1 morning and on vacation (but don't tell the Mrs. 5-at-10, she frowns on such endeavors like working on vacation).

That said, let's do work — scratch that — let's do vacation activities.

From the "Talks too much" studios, the purest form of purity comes in the strangest forms. Or something like that.

  • photo
    BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) makes a record-breaking touchdown grab over Boise State cornerback Donte Deayon (5) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Provo, Utah.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Single malt mailbag

From Entertainment Tonight

Dude,

Thanks for finally getting on the proper picking path. But I have a small problem.

I know you always tell us that this is for "entertainment only" but what happens if we risk a little more than entertainment. And what if we rode your first four picks that went 1-3 and went the opposite of your next four picks that went 4-0.

That's a sizable entertainment hole. And yes, I know it's my fault but I need your help. Your my only hope.

Please. Whatcha got this weekend?

ET —

After a brutal start we have picked up the pace in the bowl season. We are 5-3 against the spread in the postseason. Here are our previously posted picks for the games today:

• Marshall minus-2 over Maryland: Comparing common opponents tells us that each team won at Virginia Tech in overtime. Let's ride with Marshall because a) Conference USA was far from great but the ACC was not exactly filet mignon; b) Matt McConaughey will have his boys ready to play. (Better football movie: We Are Marshall or Remember the Titans? Discuss.)

• BYU plus-3 over Washington: Nineteen times out of 20 we favor the favorite. It's the wise play. We have picked more underdogs in this wave of bowl picks than we did all season. That's a scary fact. Still, the Huskies are another bunch that are playing after their coach broke up with them. Sigh. BYU is tough. Tough does not slump. One of the main hurdles about bowl handicapping is whether teams mess around during the bowl festivities. BYU is not into messing around, not when certain extracurricular activities get you dismissed from school.

• Minnesota minus-4 over Syracuse: Hey look, another ACC team in a Christmas-week bowl game. Go figure. The Gophers are one of the better, undertold stories in college football. Plus, the most famous Gophers are Dave Winfield and the little critter in Caddyshack; the most famous Oranges are Carmelo Anthony and navel. Edge Gophers.

As for Saturday's bowl games, let's examine them further:

• Notre Dame minus-13 over Rutgers: The differing level of talent here is staggering. Add to the fact that the NYC crowd will have more than a few Irish supporters, 13 seems likely a fair price for your entertainment investment.

• Cincy-UNC under the 56.5: We have flipped on this game several times so know that of the weekend, this is our least favorite.

  • photo
    Kansas State's Jake Waters celebrates a touchdown against Texas Tech during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lubbock, Texas.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• Miami plus-3.5 over Louisville: Miami limited to the finish because of a slew of nagging injuries. Those bumps and bruises are all-but gone. Also, the Cardinals were stoked about being in the Sugar Bowl last year and played inspired against a flat Florida team. Also also, two-thirds of the public bets are on Louisville, yet the line has remained at the 3.5 number. That makes us think Vegas knows something on this one.

• Kansas State minus-4 over Michigan: Michigan is turning to a new starting quarterback. Hmmmm. Michigan also gets the celebrity discount because the casual bettors look at games like this and say, "Michigan is getting points from Kansas State?" Wow that's a gift. Yes, a gift to the entertainment Gods.

As for being your only hope — it's cool feeling a little like Obi Wan Kenobi... "These are not the droids you're looking for" — here's a suggestion: Pick a strategy and ride it, regardless of the streak. Ride the 5-at-10's picks; go against our picks, make your own and ignore ours... it doesn't matter as long as you have a code and honor it. When you start playing hopscotch back and forth, well, that's why entertainment brokers drive Cadillacs and Vegas has fancy hotels and five-star restaurants that offer $7 filet mignon.

Those are our picks and we'll have more on Monday, when we will be back in our regular rotation. Side note: We will be back in the saddle of Press Row today from 3-6 on ESPN 105.1 FM.

  • photo
    Jadeveon Clowney
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

If you need to discuss some topics here are a few:

After that debacle that was the NBA wearing shooting shirts on Christmas Day (think old-school Milwaukee Bucks bad), now seems a fine time to discuss the worst uniform in sports.

Does regular-season college hoops mean much of anything, especially before January? We know chas9 is stoked for Saturday's U of L-UK showdown, but does it matter beyond rivalry status since both of those teams will dance?

Jadeveon Clowney, first-round pick in the NFL draft or the NASCAR draft? Discuss.

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chas9 said...

Hope you had a happy Boxing Day, or at least didn't get knocked out.

The RPI is squirrely this early, but it says the SEC is now the nation's 6th best basketball conference. And the conference has only the 7th best record vs. the KenPom top 25. And its .444 record versus top 10 leagues is also 7th. The SEC road record is a miserable .166, by far the worst of the top ten leagues.

We'll have three or at most four in The Dance, I'd say. Probably UK, Florida and Missouri, with LSU on the bubble. Bye-bye, Cuonzo.

Jay Bilas says this about tomorrow's UK-Louisville death match game: "A lot of people say we hate the other guy, but when you can say we hate the other guy, and we hang banners, that's special."

How does it matter? Top seeds are called "protected seeds" because teams so seeded have easier paths to the final four. Both UK and U of L aspire to this seeding level, but neither has locked one up. Both play weak schedules here on out, so this win or loss will weigh heavy in the calculations.

December 27, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
MocTastic said...

The Chicago White Sox one season became a softball team. The uniforms you will love them or hate them.

http://www.freewebs.com/karamaxjoe/thewhitesoxshorts.htm

Happy New Year!

December 27, 2013 at 10:50 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

C-Niner:

Will Coach Cal ever be on the hot seat? Or is he always on the hot seat? And your thoughts on this article...

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/24388328/this-kentucky-club-falls-well-short-of-previous-preseason-no-1s

Thanks...Billy-In-Brainerd

December 27, 2013 at 1:19 p.m.
mrspud said...

I agree with MocTastic....those Chisox uniforms with shorts were bad. I was a young spud back then and I still remember the team picture baseball card with them all in shorts. I may have to go dig through the cards and see if I can find it again.

December 27, 2013 at 1:26 p.m.
chas9 said...

BiB--It's hard to imagine Cal on the hot seat. Pretty sure he'd leave before it got too warm. BBN will grumble any time UK's not in the final four, but that's not really a hot seat. And there's no sign the SEC will be good enough in the foreseeable future to keep Kentucky from the top of the league, or at least #2.

The 40-0 talk was silly and some of the article you mentioned is silly. Like the blame it on Tubby remark.

To be clear, UK is performing behind expectations. But three losses in December mean little. First, because all were to good teams. Second, because relying on freshmen more than any of the teams the article references, any comparison is slanted. The talented youngsters haven't gelled yet, and their superb talent will win out as they figure out their chemistry and are coached up to necessary collegiate skills.

The article notes that 3 losses is 80% of the way to the average number of season losses for pre-season #1's, but after December, The Cats' schedule gets easier.

Six of the twelve teams referenced made it no farther than the round of 16 in The Dance, and I'll happily bet you that Kentucky will do better than that. If not, we can say then that the team is a disappointment.

The article is correct that it's important to win the Louisville game, and it won't be easy.

What do you think?

December 27, 2013 at 2:07 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

C-Niner,

I do not follow UK (or any school, for that matter...maybe the Mocs) close enough to make an intelligent comment. That is why I enjoy your insight. Cal may tire of the expectations one day. I think Rick did...or maybe his wife did. That and a gazillion from the Celtics and he was gone.

Thanks again...Billy-In-Brainerd

December 27, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, you do realize there are 11 ACC teams in bowls this season. Plus, FSU and Clemson (it's "hey, let's give South Carolina another turnover" regular season finale notwithstanding) are/were pretty good. Boston College has a Heisman candidate. The Coastal ... eh. Va Tech wasn't all that, Miami would remember it was Miami one week and think it was FIU the next and Georgia Tech continued to confound itself, even though all five of the games it lost were to teams in bowl games and it did beat the mess out of Duke, which apparently also realized it has a football program. Besides, Maryland is bolting for the Big 10 (even if my sources on the Maryland athletics board of trustees tell me the decision to do that was rancorous and very split), so the rest of the ACC may not even count them, unless of course they win.

December 27, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
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