published Thursday, October 17th, 2013

5-at-10: College football primer, Fab 4-plus-1-plus-1, Lightning Colt and playoff committee

Gang, feel free to weigh in on the SEC festivities this weekend. Or the question below. Hey, hit us with a mailbag question, while you're at it.

From the "Talks too much" studios, do you blame Milli or Vanilli?

SEC Watch List

This a monster weekend for college football across the dial. We're stoked. Heck, we may start knocking back Co-Colas right now. HICCUP.

1) Is Auburn ready for prime time?

The Tigers may be the most improved team in college football, which is not as hard as it sounds since they were historically bad in 2012. Now the Tigers get a chance to face Johnny Football and the Aggies, who completely and totally torched them last fall. Not the same Tigers, but the same — if not better — Johnny Football. Auburn's offense has been much better, as expected since Gus Malzahn returned. The defense, however, also has been much improved under Ellis Johnson. Are they ready for a "Here's Johnny" moment? Hard to know, but every Auburn fan we know is thankful to be looking forward to Saturdays again.

2) Is UT ready for more than getting close

Hey did you know that UT almost beat Georgia? Man, the Vols' 34-31 overtime heartbreaker against Georgia two weeks ago has become the most noteworthy loss since 'Dewey defeats Truman.' Now, the burr in the Big Orange saddle returns to East Tennessee with a South Carolina team that has flipped a switch from "what's going on" to "now that just happened." Connor Shaw is gutsy and tough and smart. Running back Mike Davis is a bell cow. UT all-star tackle Tiny Richardson has done the one thing even the great Steve Spurrier has not been able to, and that's motivate Jadeveon Clowney. Maybe getting close will be another orange feather in Butch Jones' cap, all things considered.

3) Arkansas goes from frying pan to Tuscaloosa fire

If South Carolina beats you by 45 at your place, how ugly will Arkansas at Alabama be. And the Hogs' 52-7 home loss to South Carolina was a little misleading, since Arkansas actually scored first before the Gamecocks closed on a 52-0 run. Also misleading was Alabama's 48-7 thumping of Kentucky, considering the game was tied 0-0 after the first quarter because Alabama fumbled twice inside the UK 5 and dropped a potential TD pass. Karma indeed.

4) Is Missouri ready for prime time

If the Auburn Tigers are not the most improved team, the Missouri Tigers certainly are. After an injury-riddled 5-7 2012, Missouri is 6-0. Yes, losing quarterback James Franklin in last week's big win at Georgia hurts. But please do not mention injuries around Florida, which has been ravaged by monster, season-ending pains to a slew of its season-bending monsters. So, a new quarterback against Florida's three potential NFL first-round cornerbacks. The official spread (for entertainment purposes only of course) is Florida minus-3. The unofficial over/under on Florida pick-sixes is 2.5.

5) Which key Georgia player will get hurt this week

Aaron Murray has played bravely as all of his proven offensive pieces have fallen around him. The Georgia defense has managed to stay healthy, which is a lot easier in tackle football when you avoid contact as much as the Georgia defense has this season. (Side note: Some how, "Have fun and stay healthy" seems more like a mom's mantra than a defensive coordinators, no? That, Todd Grantham is always thinking outside the box. Here are some more potential defensive chants that Grantham may employ for his under-achieving group:

  • "1-2-3, Peace"

  • Let's hug it out.

  • Turnovers are overrated

  • Like Upward Basketball, we want to make sure everyone gets a chance to score

  • We look good getting off the bus

Who's got any others?

————

Fab 4-plus-1 picks

Even when you have entertainment only on the line, the risk involved with gambling is magnified by the settings and the situations of college football. So it goes.

Last week, the Fab 4-plus-1 picks had the feel of a perfect week. One late score to cover and one fourth-quarter rally that turned a 20-point fourth-quarter lead into a miracle cover, and we finished a disappointing 2-3. We're still better than 60 percent, but the last two weeks have been a challenge.

In truth, we blame ourself for ignoring something we said in September. On Sept. 5, we wrote this as the Ducks went to Virginia: "Oregon minus-21 at Virginia: The Ducks and UCLA are going to be our go-to teams this year. Well, at least until they give us reason not to."

We have under-picked the Ducks and the Bruins all year. They are a combined 11-0 against the number this year. Each is a scary pick this week because the two teams play next week.

Miami minus-8.5 over UNC: This one is tonight, and Miami has the world in front of it. UNC, however, has the weight of the world on its shoulders. A fast start for the Hurricanes will help ease the UNC players and crowd into the prolonged funk that has plagued arguably the biggest disappointment in the ACC. A fast start for the Tar Heels could energize the Thursday night experience. Here's saying the Hurricanes start quicker than the Heels.

Texas Tech minus-6 at West Virginia: Kliff Kingsbury has become a rock star with the Red Raiders, and for good reason. The former Tech all-star quarterback has energized the offense and helped two quarterbacks throw for more than 400 yards in a game this season. West Virginia has improved since its stink-pants start, and the noon kickoff in the couch-burning capital of the free world is a plus. But Dana Holgorsen is no Kliff Kingsbury. Heck, Dana Holgorsen is closer to Cliff Clavin.

  • photo
    Justin Worley prevailed in a heated QB race in preseason practice.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

South Carolina minus-7 at Tennessee: Managing the bye week may be the single most underrated part of regular-season college football coaching. Going into the bye on a high can be a great thing for moral. It can also be a difficult thing if you team spends the better part of two weeks hearing how great they did and how close they are to turning it around and how... Well you get the idea. And yes, there is reason to have pause here: The renewed energy in Knoxville, the fact that South Carolina played as well as it can last week, the rested Vols. But here's the tie-breaking match-up: Connor Shaw vs Justin Worley — Shaw is 22-4 as a starter; Worley had a good second-half against a bad Georgia defense. And Mike Davis, the underrated South Carolina rusher who will be the hammer that Todd Gurley was supposed to be two weeks ago.

Alabama minus-28 over Arkansas: Is there anything more pitiful than clubbed baby seals? Yes, yes there is. Opposing offenses that are completely one-dimensional coming to Tuscaloosa to face Nick Saban's Tide. Arkansas completed four passes last week against South Carolina. FOUR. Heck, Arkansas only attempted 13 passes against South Carolina, and that was a game that was 52-7. Wonder if Bret Bielema and those Big Ten folks have heard of this crazy forward pass thing that all the young kids are talking about.

UCLA plus-7 at Stanford: Stanford is better and irked and UCLA has Oregon on the horizon. You know what? So what. UCLA has lottery picks at quarterback and at linebacker. We have ignored the Bruins for too long, only making entertainment off them twice in a perfect 5-0 start. We're here, we're clear, get used to it.

Oregon minus-38 over Washington State: WSU Mike Leach is a pirate. Great. Oregon offensive guru Mark Helfrich is a wizard. OK, if a pirate and a wizard went toe-to-toe, you have to go with the wizard, right? Gandolph against Captain Jack Sparrow? Merlin vs. Black Beard? Henry Potter vs. Captain Hook. Know this, in a 60-minute football game, Helfrich the Good and the Ducks average just less than a point and just more than 10 yards per minute. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

(Yes, there are 4-plus-1-plus-1)

—————

Quit talking

Hey Jim Irsay, shut it down. Deal? Deal.

Irsay, the owner of the Colts, unloaded some quotes to USA Today this week about how he wished that Peyton Manning's time in Indy had produced more than one Super Bowl. Some around Peyton — and some former Colts personnel like GM Bill Polian — took offense to the comments.

OK, to be fair, Irsay said some very similar stuff in the offseason to The AP. It was no-big-deal stuff then. Now, it's a deal because Manning returns to Indy on Sunday night.

Now Irsay is giving more interviews and trying to explain himself and clarify and what have you. Jim, pack it in for the rest of the week, OK? Denver coach John Fox called your quotes out in large part to deflect the attention off his team and Manning. Genius play in truth. (When was the last time John Fox and genius were used in the same sentence that wasn't, "That John Fox sure is no genius.")

Here's another tip: If you feel you need to explain something or clarify a comment to someone, Twitter is not the ideal platform on which to do it.

Make a phone call. Talk to Peyton. Then when the reporters ask Peyton about it, he says, "Jim and I spoke and we're good. I have no other comments about it."

Done and done.

—————

This and that

— Want to know how special the Colts going from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck for two-plus decades of quarterback goodness? Ask the Minnesota Vikings, who will had the ball to Josh Freeman on Monday night, which will make Freeman the Vikings' 11th starting quarterback since Daunte Culpepper left the team after 2005.

— Rest in Peace actor Ed Lauter, who was an all-star 'that guy' actor who appeared in more than 200 movies and shows and roles that ranged from a background guy in Talladega Nights to the quarterback for the guards team in the original "Longest Yard. Dude's acting career started in 1971 on Mannix for crying out loud (was that a good show 9er and Spy — we were 1) and will continue after his death since he is in some movies that have been completed and not released.

— Dodgers and Tigers win in the LCS. So the Dodgers head back to St. Louis down 3-2 and hand the ball to the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw. The Tigers and Boston are tied 2-2 with game 5 tonight and Jon Lester going for the Red Sox and Anibal Sanchez scheduled for the Tigers. Good times, and good baseball.

— One college study has concluded that Oreo's are more addictive than cocaine. Do with that as you please.

— Irving Fryar, the former Nebraska star and former No. 1 overall pick, has been charged for being a part of a loan scam.

————

Today's question

Remember the mailbag and fire away.

OK, we have heard the 13 names on the college football selection committee. And we heard the hubbub about Condi Rice. (Hey Pat Dye, why are you talking? And remember the Twain thought about it's better to have folks think you're a fool than to open your trap and prove it to them.)

We're fine with the 13. The only way it could have been better is if they had asked the 5-at-10 . Or StuckinKent. Whatever.

So next year, those 13 will decide which four teams will play in the college football playoff.

But let's spin this forward, while spinning it current. There is a potential world-class logjam on the BCS horizon. The BCS will be released Sunday, and there could be six major college programs finish unbeaten in Alabama, Oregon/UCLA winner, FSU/Clemson winner, Ohio State, Baylor and Louisville. Yes, Missouri could too, but c'mon.

So if we had six unbeatens this year, Alabama and Oregon would play for the title and never the 'twain shall meet. If those six finished unbeaten next year with a four-team playoff, who gets left out? Louisville for sure because of their TSSAA-type schedule, but you could make a hard argument that Baylor deserves it more than Ohio State.

And in the future, when there's people making the picks rather than computer rankings, what would happen if the 13-person committee was charged with picking between a one-loss major conference champ or an unbeaten Louisville for that fourth spot? The computer says one thing, the people could say another.

And, how long before the field becomes eight?

Discuss.

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.
jomo11 said...

Is this a critical game for UT ? the last best chance to beat an upper level SEC team at home. If the Vols lose badly would this kill any momentum for a decent bowl game ? And a loss would make the broken UT record of 8 year in-a-row of "wait til next year" ? And a loss here would make some fans think Butchy is just Derek Dooley with a better slogan ? Almost a program must win Saturday

October 17, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Miami has a way of stubbing its toe on a Thursday night vs a team from the Tar Heel state (see ECU and NC State as well, I believe, as examples). That being said, they will overwhelm UNC tonight.

I've always said the playoff field needs to be eight-deep. Conference winners from the power leagues, then top ranked two runners up and a potential wild card of ranked runner up, top-ranked independent or top-ranked team from non power league.

I still say we're going to four 16-team super leagues (Big 10, Pac 12, ACC, SEC) and then going to an eight-team playoff. It's all a matter of which conference lands Texas.

5, I know y'all are all about the SEC, but any thoughts on Clemson vs. Florida State in the biggest game between those two that didn't involve a Bowden since 1988 (and those two teams were loaded that year).

Good pitching beats good hitting. Great pitching trumps good hitting. And good hitting slaps around mediocre pitching. Can't walk a guy who doesn't walk and then expect to cruise through the rest of the lineup, Peavy.

October 17, 2013 at 10:16 a.m.
chas9 said...

Cocks -7 is a stone cold lock. Bet the farm. But it's not a must win for Butch.

Spy's right. Seminoles v. Tigers is a monster game.

For the first time in forever a freshman is preseason POY in the SEC. UT's McRae is a distant second, but JR will eat his lunch and spit out the bones. UK is the obvious pick for conference champs. Wonder what looney farm is missing the voter who thinks Cuonzo's caters will win it all.

October 17, 2013 at 10:28 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JoMo's comments about next year remind me of a joke I heard years ago...

A woman goes into to see a psychiatrist, he asks what is wrong. She says "Doc, I am now married for my third time and I still a virgin." The psych gasps and asks how that could be, what has happened, to which she replies "The first time I got married was to a gynecologist and he told me since he had to look at them all day at work he didn't want to see it at home. Then I married a sexual therapist and he told me that he has to talk about it all day at work and he doesn't want to even think about it at home." The psych consoled her and said that explains the first two, but what about the third marriage to which she replied "Well, then I married the Univ of Tennessee football coach and when I get in the loving mood he always hushes me and just tells me "wait until next year"....and I am still waiting."

October 17, 2013 at 10:40 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Mike Connors was so cool in his role as a PI that we nick-named the coolest guy in our HS class "Joe Mannix"...set the stage for Tom Selleck as "Magnum" [not the malt liquor].

Billy-In-Brainerd

October 17, 2013 at 10:42 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - heard about the Oreo addict issue last night from Mrs. Sportsfan and Little Ms Sportsfan (who by the way got a mention in the TFP this am...thank you very much). For the mailbag, what's your Rushmore of cookies? Put me down for homemade chocolate chip, homemade peanut butter, homemade teacakes (JMC may know what these are), and Trefoils dipped in hot fudge...I don't really see the magic of Oreo's.

October 17, 2013 at 10:44 a.m.
MocTastic said...

White chocolate macademia...end of story, end of discussion.

October 17, 2013 at 10:47 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Oatmeal Raisin has to be there

October 17, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jim Irsay is a complete idiot in the sense he has a very, very, short-term memory. I'm no Payton fan at all, but looking at the big picture, he basically built the "modern" Colts franchise from the ground up. Andrew basically took over and kept it in check. While I wasn't as into football as I am today, I do recall during my middle to high school years when the Colts were synonymous with the word "doormat". Including that one-word zinger from SNL when they were doing a parody follow-up of the Bear's Super Bowl Shuffle song (try saying that three times fast) by showing the title of other NFL team songs of simular genre. For the Colts, the host said "And for Indianpolis: We are the Colts..We admit it." ::audience laughs:: They then show the "We are kickers, we kick ball, we punt the ball, etc." Parody of all the foreign kickers the NFL were using at the time.

I've never seen anyone pawn stuff over an Oreo addiction. Meanwhile, I read a VERY interesting article in the online version of this VERY publication written by THE Ellis Smith what people do pawn for. However, this quote floored me:

"Even without all the TV shows, it's gotten hip and cool," said Jabo Covert, spokesman for U.S. Money Shops. "Customers will give us a price, we'll give them a price, and then they'll say, 'Don't you need to bring in an expert now?'"

Reality Check 101: "Pawn Stars" is NOT an accurate portrayal of day to day activites. Yes, it's a fun show to watch but their layout is more like a high-end flea market then an "actual" pawn store. Most pawn stores do not have "experts" that look Amish and work for the Cook County Museum that are on speed dial. It's make-believe.

October 17, 2013 at 11:20 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Yes, 5, Mannix was a great show. Mike Connors ruled. Don't know if it was better than The Rockford Files, but it was close.

October 17, 2013 at 11:20 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Homemade Chocolate Chips are the Crimson Tide of this discussion.

We have a soft spot for Fudge Strips too. And by soft spot we mean "can eat a bag with a big glass of milk and wonder, 'What just happened?'"

MT —

That's pretty funny.

9er —

You're kind of feisty about the UK-UT hoops tete-a-tete. Spit out his bones?

As Drago said, "I must break you."

Spy —

Our CFB playoff plan is similar. Eight teams. Five conference champs — from the five highest computer ranked conferences, which puts the pressure on the leagues to make sure they are not playing cupcakes. Three at-large teams from anywhere, regardless of titles or affiliations or championships.

If it goes bigger than 8, the regular season will really start to suffer.

Jomo —

Not a fan of the oatmeal raisin.

Don't think Saturday is a must-win, but building on momentum will be crucial.

Almost a brick-by-brick building momentum type of thing.

October 17, 2013 at 11:22 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, it just dawned on me ... doesn't your alter ego have the anniversary of a significant occasion soon, either just happened or upcoming? You know I don't celebrate my own anymore, and with six brothers and sisters, I can't even (and don't even) keep track of theirs - until it's time for me to take them to dinner and pay for it.

Hope Capt. Knauer enjoys the rematch with Endicott Steel in the great beyond. Game ball.

October 17, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JMC —

Good story.

And the pawn shop stuff is the making for a routine. Any time you can get an Amish reference in there, it's good times.

Here's a reality show: Les Miles spends the summer in Amish country. Discuss.

Spy —

Who's cooler:

Rockford or the early Fonz?

Discuss

October 17, 2013 at 11:25 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Wow. Might lean toward Rockford. Though the Fonz got plenty of chicks and could make the jukebox play on command, without dropping a dime.

October 17, 2013 at 12:40 p.m.
Walden said...

Jay - I thought coleslaw cookies were your favorite?

October 17, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Walden —

That's just not nice.

At all. Pass us a Co-Cola.

Spy —

Who was cooler: Potsie or Carlton from Fresh Prince?

Discuss.

October 17, 2013 at 2:44 p.m.
Walden said...

I don't know if the SC game is a MUST win for UT, but considering making it to a bowl game would put a serious cherry on top of Jones' first year... the Vols are 3-3... Let's assume that they beat Vandy and Kentucky, which may make an ass of you and me... that makes 5 wins. Who are the Vols more likely to beat, Auburn or SC? That's Auburn to you and me Russ.

October 17, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Walden —

Great point. And to matriculate it further, do you think UT has a better chance to beat:

USC, which is a 7-point favorite Saturday

Missouri, which likely will be a favorite against UT in Columbia

Spy —

The 5-at-10 turns 3 in about a week.

And we will have been the sports editor here at the TFP for a decade next Friday.

Who could have guessed, right? And somewhere Doc's financial statement just wept.

Auburn, which would be a slight underdog most likely in Knoxville.

And at the end of the day, when the parking lot is all full, we'll be the first ones to leave too. You know why? Because we're the Greesons.

October 17, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Walden said...

Jay - I just read old Roy's column on the Auburn homecoming queen. Awesome story about young Ms. Dutton and the crowd's response to her. War Eagle for that!

October 17, 2013 at 3:20 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Concerning Grantham's defense and chants and mantras and the such...I think Todd is to be commended. Concussions are a serious issue in the world of football these days and the NFL is promoting the "Heads Up" program for young footballers. At Georgia we are doing one better. Keep your head up and then turn it around and watch that fella run. Nobody gets concussed. Everybody gets a chance to score. Tell Bobo we're gonna need more points.

Who would have guessed that Robert Irsay's son Jim would turn out to be an obnoxious egomaniac? I suppose Bocephus might say Jim is just carryin' on an old family tradition.

Jay congratulation on the upcoming tenth anniversary as sports editor at the TFP. I never have been good at knowing the proper protocol on anniversary gifting, so does a six-pack and a Slim Jim sound about right? Is there a registry down at the Gas-N-Go?

October 17, 2013 at 3:39 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Walden —

We saw that this morning, too. A very heart-felt War Eagle to that young lady's story and Roy's column.

War Eagle indeed.

GD —

You know how to get a fella where he lives don't you.

And we will spin one of those concussion angles in tomorrow's TFP. Anytime you can use the word concussed in a family newspaper, it's a good day.

October 17, 2013 at 3:43 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

Been crazy busy all week. First time I've read the 5-at-10. And you're right- I do deserve a spot on the College Football Playoff Committee. And I would love to do it. But, alas, it will never happen. But with the computer rankings and such, I should be able to provide a nice lot of bubble talk for the college football playoff, which will keep me quite entertained until February, when the basketball bubble talk picks up. You know- there's never been a bubble I haven't enjoyed. This weekend is crazy good, football-wise. Got Tennessee-South Carolina, Florida-Missouri, and Georgia-Vanderbilt at noon, which are at least interesting. Got Auburn-Texas A&M, UCLA-Oregon, and Ohio State-Iowa may even be sneaky good at 3:30. Got LSU-Ole Miss at 7:00. All leading into Clemson-Florida State at 8:00. That's ignores games like USC-Notre Dame, Washington-Arizona State, Alabama-Arkansas, TCU-Oklahoma State. This weekend is going to be crazy good. If you are a Tennessee fan, you've got a full day of huge games. If you don't care about Tennessee, Florida-Missouri qualifies early as a huge game. Think about it. Even if you just want to watch big games, at noon Florida-Missouri, which may not be the biggest game of the day, but we learn a ton about the Tigers. At 3:30, you've got UCLA-Oregon. At 8:00, you've got Clemson-Florida State. This is a Saturday to just sit your butt on the couch and watch college football all day long. It's that good.

October 17, 2013 at 3:49 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

S-i-K: All that football makes me thirsty. Better grab a case or 3 on the way home.

Billy-In-Brainerd

October 17, 2013 at 4:10 p.m.
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