Gang, with the holiday coming and the limited 5-at-10 planned on Thursday, we have made some changes.
That said, we need a mailbag entry or three and could have some breaking news for you come Friday.
Anyhoo, let's do the Turkey Trot. Or the Home Run Trot. Just as long as we don't get the trots.
From the "Talks too much" studios, you either get better or you get worse, you never stay the same.
Fab 4-plus-4 picks
OK, we know the picks normally hit the streets on Thursday. You know this too.
This is a holiday week and with Black Friday becoming Turquoise Thursday we thought, "Hey, what would Les Miles do?" And gang, any time you find yourself in a tight spot — "Boys, we're in a tight spot" — you can a) look up a real Les Miles quote; b) quote the movie "O, Brother Where Art Thou" or c) Look pensive, put your hand on your chin and nod while slowly saying, "Saban."
Let's go with a. Deal? Deal.
Houston minus-9.5 over SMU: "We have to respond to what has happened and enjoy the opportunity to improve and work hard at it and return to the team we are very capable of being." We originally picked the over in this game, and that was understandable. we have since adjusted that view after Friday morning's news that SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert would not play.
Fresno State minus-7 at San Jose State and over whatever the over is: "I don't know about other teams and the buoyancy of other teams." Buy the half of course. We, like Les, are not familiar with the float-ability of either team, and we, like Col. Jessup, are not familiar with the packing habits of PFC William Santiago. What we do know is this: San Jose State can not tackle. Fresno State can score and has a bracket-busting BCS spot for which to play. We strongly recommend this one for added bouyancy in your entertainment account.
Toledo minus-7 at Akron: "The want to have had the players on the field make the timeout call in that spot is certainly is a great call." Buy the half of course, again. Toledo is an upper-crust team in the MAC, which is a league with a few high-quality teams and several dreadful other. Seriously, other than Michigan State, the landscape of football in Michigan is woeful and all of the directional Michigans are padding other teams' records in the MAC. Anyhoo, Akron is bad but has won a handful of game because the bottom of the MAC is really bad. Toledo is good, which is better than bad and certainly better than 7 points better than bad.
Ohio State minus-14 at Michigan: "Now, we refute this now put into this position, how do we get a play snapped? I suggest that it's very difficult." One of the tough things about picking games during rivalry week is putting a proper gauge on the emotional stakes and swing of those involved. That said, this is a great value bet considering that Ohio State is way better than Michigan and has way more skin in the game overall. Think of it this way: A tight win is no good for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, considering they are looking over their BCS shoulder at one-loss teams and trying to defend their merit. The Buckeyes need to drop the hammer. The rivalry part of this gives us cause, but only for a moment. This one will be 48-14 rather quickly and allow you some high-quality channel flipping on Saturday.
Florida State minus-27 at Florida: "It's always enjoyable for me to be in a stadium filled by fans from two teams in one state." Yes, Les, that can be fun, especially when one side is way, Way, WAY better than the other. Get on this now. It's only going up, and it's another game to disassociate the passion from the present. This is the worst Florida team since before Spurrier started wearing visors. The Gators will have a tough time getting to 14 points. Do you think the Seminoles, who have scored 41 or more in every game this season, are going to start stuttering now? Add to the fact that there will be a ton of FSU fans in the Swamp, and 27 seems like a great value. Wow, read that last sentence again, that FSU laying 27 at Florida is a 'great value.' Egad. Coach Boom goes the dynomite.
Baylor minus-12.5 at TCU: "Minus being undefeated, I think we're on point." TCU is flawed. Baylor is irate. Any one thinking Baylor is not going to score 60 in this one?
Clemson plus-6 at South Carolina: "That may be the reason. It may not be the reason." Les is great. In fact, Les Miles is the perfect blend of Dabo and Spurrier — witty and clever, successful and unpredictable. Clemson is a better football team front to back, and while South Carolina's defensive front has dominated this game in recent years, Clemson has 13 more sacks as a team this year. And in truth, the most productive defensive end in the country will be in this game — but it's Clemson's Vic Beasley rather than USC's Jadeveon Clowney.
Missouri minus-4 over Texas A&M: "Certainly with time, he'll be potentially a great ball player." Johnny Football is magnificent on the field. Johnny Football does not play defense, though. Does any team in the country get less respect than the Missouri Tigers? Consider this: They are No. 5 in the BCS and have yet to play a CBS game. They are 9-1-1 against the number and they still are a single-digit favorite at home. That's because of A&M's Heisman-winning quarterback. Thank you Johnny Football, for everything.
Ole Miss minus-3 at Mississippi State: "If we're defending, come see the trophy, it's in our trophy case. We're not defending it; it's there." Buy the half of course, again. The Egg Bowl has bigger stakes now than before. This is a bonus pick for the internet folks — since the picks in the paper run on Friday and this game is Thursday, we'll omit it from the TFP. That said, do not read too much into last week's results. Ole Miss is better than MSU, and playing better options is the only way to matriculate your entertainment account up the ledger.
Is it possible to overhype this Iron Bowl? Heck, ESPN has already had two Tom Rinaldi pieces and it's only Wednesday.
Here's one vested guy's check list for Iron Bowl success:
For Alabama, starting fast is paramount. The Tide have bludgeoned folks for the better part of two months. Heck, even the relatively close game against LSU became a 21-point win. Alabama knows they belong on this stage; Auburn is hoping to get comfortable on this stage. If the Tide do not start quickly and let the Tigers gain confidence and the Jordan-Hare crowd get rolling, this one could be a thriller. Of course if the Tide start fast, this one could get one-sided quickly.
Conversely, Auburn needs to be in a one-score game to start the fourth quarter. Yes, Alabama is the country's A-list mega-star and has been on this stage more than any other team in recent years. But Alabama has seldom been in a one-possession, got-to-make-a-play-on-third-and-6 game. Auburn lives that drama almost every week. Alabama is better prepared to handle the magnitude of the moment; Auburn is completely comfortable handling the pressure of the final two minutes of a one-score game. Which team gets to dictate the scenario to its strength will be in control.
As for the player to watch, that's easy. If Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall throws for 250-plus (as long as it's not all in the fourth quarter of a 49-21 game) then the Tigers are going to be ahrd to handle. Alabama feasts against one-dimensional offenses. Auburn has chosen to be one-dimensional because in truth very few teams have been able to stop the Auburn running game. The Tigers will not be able to get by on the running game alone this week. So step to the center stage Mr. Marshall. Are you ready?
Hall of Fame ballot
The most recent list of eligible candidates for the baseball Hall of Fame was released Tuesday night. There are a few names on it you may recognize. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are the cream of the crop of the new names on the ballot, joing holdovers Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa from the PED-timeout crop of last year.
The veterans committee also has big-time names Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, George Steinbrenner and Marvin Miller.
There also are hold-overs Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.
Voters are dealing with a lot of stuff, and while candlesticks make a nice gift, there are some tough choices to be made.
If you had a ballot and could vote for as many as five former players and two from the veterans committee, who you got?
This and that
— Does a guy like Jordan Lynch, the record-setting quarterback of unbeaten Northern Illinois, deserve Heisman consideration? We say yes.
— Major kudos to the UTC football sweep of the coaches awards, with David Tull getting defensive player of the year and the Huesman clan — pop Russ and son Jacob — getting coach and offensive player of the year. The bar has been raised for the Mocs and for the Huesman household. Here's hoping the rest of the clan brings some hardware to the Thanksgiving table.
— So AJ McCarron's worried about Katherine Webb's safety at the Iron Bowl. Two things: a) Alabama fans have the recent history of acts of lunacy; b) Quite telling that AJ is worried about the safety of his squeeze more than his own safety. Man, there's a real chance Alabama beats the brakes off of Auburn.
— Reports on CBSsports.com say that the website Deadspin has purchased a baseball Hall of Fame ballot from a voting member and intends to make 'a mockery and a farce' of the process. OK. Seems like the baseball writers have done a pretty good job of that so far, no?
There's a slew to discuss — and we need some mailbag questions heading into the holiday.
But if you need a talking point, here you go:
If you could invite anyone, which four people from the sports world are you having over for Thanksgiving and why?
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 ...