Happy New Year, gang. Hope 2013 offers up a plate full of goodies to you and yours.
We'll go with a holiday list today, but since it's the new year, let's make some predictions.
First, though we need to continue our bowl picks. And let's be honest after a 2-2 Monday pushed us to 21-13, it's not like we can do any worse than Lane Kiffin. (And we have to admit, we found ourselves really pulling hard for Georgia Tech and really enjoying USC's struggles.) Wow, what a Sun Bowl debacle against Georgia Tech. According to ESPN, USC will be the first preseason No. 1 to finish the season unranked since 1964. As for today's game, motivation is the key. Will the favorites be focused on winning bowl games? We think Georgia plays well in the swan song for something like 50 defensive players. And of course FSU is any one's guess.
Oklahoma State -16.5 over Purdue
Michigan +5.5 over South Carolina
Northwestern -1.5 over Mississippi State and over the 50
Georgia -8 over Nebraska and over the 61
Stanford -5.5 over Wisconsin and under 49
On to our predictions for 2013...
In January, Alabama will beat Notre Dame for the BCS title, giving the SEC its seventh consecutive crown. Nick Saban will be a hot name in NFL coaching circles, but he will remain at Alabama. Some of his college colleagues such as Chip Kelly and Bill O'Brien will take NFL gigs. The Green Bay Packers will beat the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title game. The New England Patriots will win at Denver in the AFC title game.
In February, Alabama will close quickly and have the nation's top class of college football recruits. The Patriots top the Packers in the Super Bowl as Tom Brady secures his spot on the Mount Rushmore of all time QB greats.
In March, Kentucky emerges from an up-and-down regular season as a No. 5 seed and rolls to the Elite Eight. Of the No. 1 seeds — Indiana, Michigan, Duke and Syrauce — only the Hoosiers make the Final Four, where they lose to Louisville in the national title game. The Lady Mocs will make the NCAA tournament as a 10 seed and fall in the second round
In April, Rory McIlroy edges a hard-charging Tiger Woods to win his first Masters. UTC senior Steven Fox will make the cut and finish as the low amateur, thus getting to sit in Butler Cabin with McIlroy and Jim Nantz on Sunday evening. Star Lotulelei, the mammoth Utah defensive lineman will be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Four Vols will be picked in the first three rounds: Cordarrelle Patterson will got 12th overall to the Dolphins; Dallas Thomas and Justin Hunter will be second-round picks; Tyler Bray will go to the Chiefs with the first pick of the third round. There will be 14 SEC players taken in the first round, including four Georgia Bulldogs and three Alabama players.
In May, the area teams will again dominate in softball at the Spring Fling. A torrid start to the baseball season sees the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Angels on record-setting paces. Lane Kiffin is fired at USC after rumors on another NCAA investigation start to swirl.
In June, Chris Paul is named the NBA MVP, edging Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. Durant and the Thunder beat the Lakers 4-3 in the Western Conference finals but lose again to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
In July, Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, setting off a huge British celebration that could even cause the Royal family to name the new baby Andy. (Or Andi if it's a girl.) After his failed experiment in L.A., Dwight Howard signs with the Atlanta Hawks. As NFL camps open, a slew of high-profile players retire. Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson and a slew of others will call it a career.
In August, Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida and Oklahoma start the college football season in the top five.
In September, a great baseball season ends with the Yankees missing the playoffs. The playoff field is highlighted by the Angels' record-setting offense and the Dodgers' record-setting payroll. The Butch Jones' era in Knoxville opens with wins against Austin Peay and Western Kentucky (although it's closer than expected). UT falls flat at Oregon and loses a close one at Florida.
In October, the Angels top the Blue Jays in the ALCS; the Dodgers beat the Giants in the NLCS. Each series draws record-low viewers and places behind three college football games and every NFL game in the Nielsen ratings. The Angels outscore the Dodgers to win the series 4-2
In November, Butch Jones gets his first SEC win at Missouri. Albert Pujols wins the AL MVP after making a serious charge on Hack Wilson's all-time RBI record of 190. Hitting behind Mike Trout and in front of Josh Hamilton, Pujols leads the AL in hitting and finishes with 175 RBIs. Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp stays healthy for the full year and takes home the NL MVP after a 40-40 season.
In December, after a crazy finish to a crazy college football season, the final BCS title game before the playoff does not feature an SEC team. Ohio State uses Braxton Millers' Heisman Trophy season to run the table in a less-than-stellar Big Ten and Oklahoma State finishes unbeaten in the Big 12. That leaves two one-loss SEC teams — Alabama and Florida — on the outside looking in. Georgia finishes 9-3 and goes to the Chick-fil-A Bowl; Tennessee goes 6-6 and is invited to the Music City, meaning that one game can really make all the difference in the world.
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 ...