published Thursday, October 24th, 2013

5-at-10: Fab 4 picks, Five SEC things to watch, Mocs moment and mutable announcers

We're here. It's Thursday. We can see the weekend. We know the stakes. We left Hump Day — Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike — in the rearview and are turning toward the corner of Friday and Co-Colas.

Giddy-up.

Gang, remember Friday's mailbag and enjoy the day.

From the "Talks too much" studios, be the ball Danny.

Fab 4-picks-plus-1

Auburn-Florida Atlantic over 51: OK, here's our number crunching for the week. We know that Auburn rushes for more than 300 yards per game, which is good, and tries to have 80-plus offensive plays a game, which is especially good for entertainment-wagers who like the over. We also know that Florida Atlantic is a 24-point underdog that os 2-5 overall but an amazing 6-1 against the spread this year. Go figure, right? So if trends continue, for the Owls to cover the 24-point spread, for this game to go over, all you need from the Tigers is 37 points.

Missouri minus-2.5 over South Carolina: Maybe this is the week that the Tigers wake up. Maybe this is the week that Steve Spurrier starts acting like Steve Spurrier again. Maybe this is the week that Jadeveon Clowney has a "My goodness, did you see that" moment. Maybe this is the week Mike Davis gets the recognition his work-horse type season has merited. Or maybe this is the week that we finally realize that Missouri is pretty dang good and the Tigers' closest game was a 15-point win at Georgia. Did we mention that USC quarterback Connor Shaw is not going to start because of injury?

Baylor-Kansas over the 66: Texas Tech put 54 on Kansas in Lawrence. This just in: Baylor's offense is pretty potent. The only reason this one gives us pause is the "if a line looks too good to be true, it normally is" postulate that is one of entertainment-risking rules. But hey, it's a rule not a law. And like Fletch says, there has been a lot of changes in the law.

We will post the other two shortly. Man we were running behind this morning. We are debating between the following:

Buffalo minus-2 over Kent State:

San Jose State minus 6.5 over Wyoming:

Vandy plus-18 at Texas A&M:

And several others... Any thoughts?

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Five SEC things to watch

How do the Vols handle success? Tennessee fans have been walking around with their chests puffed out and their heads held high, and with good reason after last week's thrilling 23-21 win over South Carolina. (And if you rewatched it on one of the replays this week, well, you are not alone.) It was UT's first win over a ranked foe since East Tennessee viewed Lane Kiffin as a prince rather than a punk. So it goes. Now, how does the Butch-mobile and the Tennessee players handle a week of smiles with an afternoon of hurdles on the horizon. And we'll ask you this, should Butch play this one close to the vest, limiting possessions and big plays looking for a chance late rather than standing toe-to-toe with college football's version of pre-Robin Givens Mike Tyson? Is playing for a chance late, knowing that chance is small considering the machine that is the Crimson Tide, wise or waving the white flag? On the flip side, do you go to a gun fight when your trigger man is, by comparison, wielding a butter knife? Lots of questions and not sure Saturday is going to deliver a slew of answers considering the divide in talent between the current teams. We do know this: This game is way more interesting this morning than it was last month or at any point in the last three years, and that is significant step for Butch Jones and the brick-by-brick battalion.

How does Alabama handle the Vols success? Alabama is a 28-point favorite over Tennessee. If that seems like a lot, well, it is. Remember last week when we said that Alabama punishes teams that are one dimensional before laying four TDs against a pass-challenged Arkansas bunch? Well, after a 52-0 pasting in which Arkansas passed for 90 yards against the Tide, the Razorbacks are 114th nationally in passing yards per game. Tennessee is 109th. Remember too how we mentioned that Alabama coach Nick Saban seldom covers big spreads against overmatched foes but has been a steamroller against conference foes, especially ones against which he may recruit? We think Nick may have noticed Butch Jones' top-five national recruiting class and has every intention on sending a message that building brick-by-brick is fine, but the penthouse in Tuscaloosa has already been mortared. Finally, remember that crazy thing called the BCS, and how voters look for weird trends to rank the elite in the sport. Well, Tennessee is going to be a pretty fair litmus test considering that after this weekend, the Vols will have played road games at No. 1 Alabama and at No. 3 Oregon. Think Nick the Quick will try to match Ducks' 59-14 whipping of UT last month?

How does Auburn deal with a whirlwind week: One big win can change anything. It can erase a historically bad 2012. It can recalibrate goals? It can alter the timeframe of a rebuilding project. Conversely one rotten loss can do the exact same. Auburn catapulted to No. 11 in the AP poll with last week's 45-41 win at Texas A&M. It could plummet if it does not handle its BID-ness against an overmatched Owls team. One game can change everything, and that friends is the beauty of college football's glorious regular season. It's the marathon that is a weekly sprint. And now with hurdles.

Can the Gamecocks rebound?

Missouri for all intents and purposes could win the East on Saturday. Read that sentence again. Missouri... clinching the East... in October. A win over a banged up and beat down South Carolina, which was topped by Tennessee last week, would give the Tigers a two-game lead with tie-breaker edges over Georgia, Florida and the Gamecocks. Wow. That said, it's hard to see a Steve Spurrier team going down without a fight. Well, unless as has been whispered in some circles that Spurrier may be ready to exit stage left. This could be a very educational game in the ledger and for a legend.

Can Vandy deal Texas A&M its third home loss

Freshman Patton Robinette will make his first start for the Commodores this weekend as Vandy heads to College Station. Here's the good news for young master Robinette: all-world wide receiver Jordan Matthews will make the trip with him. Here's some more good news for the Commodores: the Aggies have played four SEC games and have allowed an average of 41.3 points per game. And one of those was against offensively anemic Arkansas. Here's the hurdle for the freshman QB with an all-country club nickname (think you'd could pick out a 'Patton Robinette' and a 'Barkevious Mingo' in a photo of two football dudes?): Johnny Football and the Aggies are going to score. Period. Are you ready to score with them?

————

Mocs moment

We have tried to get some feedback and some input from you Mocs faithful on Saturday's tilt against The Citadel, or El Cid as they are know to our Mexican-American brothers and sisters.

El Cid is tough. They fight. They seldom beat themselves.

Great. The Mocs are better and need this. This is not a circled game, not a Georgia Southern or a Wofford or even this year a Samford.

But this is a game that makes the circled game special. In some ways that makes it tougher for the Mocs and especially the Mocs coaches. UTC should win, and everyone involved, including El Cid knows it. Handling the should win moments is a distinct and markable moment in a program's growth.

And please know this is a should-win moment, not a should-cruise moment. The Mocs have become comfortable in the should-cruise games, which are decided before the end of the third quarter. That's a step too, and a noticeable one for UTC, considering it we not that long ago — pre-Huesman — when the Mocs were the should-cruise opponent for everyone else.

So that step has been cleared. Now, it's time for the next one, handling a should-win game so that you can play those circled opponents in season-swinging games rather than season-saving games.

And yes, we may have set a hyphen record in this entry. All we need is a BenJarvis Green-Ellis reference and maybe a Mia Hamm-Garciaparra and a HaHa Clinton-Dix.

Good times.

————

This and that

— Whoa Nelly. The Rams called Brett Favre to see if the 44-year-old grandfather was interested in coming back after the Rams lost starting QB Sam Bradford to an ACL injury. Maybe the call came during dinner, and while on the phone, someone asked Brett to pass the salt. And, with even a hint of return, the salt was intercepted and returned for a TD.

— We found an old-80s CD in the car for the ride home last night. Good times. What ever happened to Men at Work, and which musical continent was the most impressive: groups Asia or Europe or Toto's Africa? Discuss.

— Here's the first movie trailer we've seen for Ron Burgandy's Anchorman 2. There's a real chance this could completely stink. There's a real chance it could be fall down funny. There's a real chance we love lamp. (Do you really love lamp or are you just saying that?) We love lamp.

— Talk about taking Dorothy Mantooth out for a nice seafood dinner and not calling... The Cardinals and Jon Lester managed to suck the drama out of Game 1, huh? The Red Sox scored three quick runs off Adam Wainright on the way to an 8-1 win. Yawn. But, there was some lively Twitter discussion because...

————

Today's question

Tim McCarver is brutal. BREW-TALL.

His brutality was in full view during the Red Sox runaway and he started to diverge into interesting topics like the best finger-pressure pitchers of the last generations and his playing days back in the 15-inch mound stone ages.

This led a few of us to discuss who are the worst announcers out there today, or as UTC football beat ace Johnny Frierson puts it, "The most mutable Rushmore."

Discuss. And while you are thinking about it, here's a reminder of the 'Boom goes the dynamite kid,' and if you have never seen this, well then you're welcome. If you haven't seen it in a while, well, you're welcome, too.

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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chas9 said...

A national newscast yesterday claimed that the about-to-begin World Series was the most anticipated one in years. Really don't see it.

Love the Missouri pick and Baylor-Kansas over 66. But I'd probably go with Baylor -35. Normally I'd avoid big point spreads, but Kansas is turrible. Weiss is the worst coach ever. Except for two recent Big Orange guys. And I'd take UK +10.

I do think Satan's demons will run up the score. UT's best chance is to play a field position game using its talented kicking game and hope to grab some turnovers late.

October 24, 2013 at 10:42 a.m.
Walden said...

"the salt was intercepted and returned for a TD."

Now that's funny, I don't care who you are!

Thanks for making me laugh and turning a crap day into a decent one Jay!

October 24, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.
Walden said...

Speaking of McCarver...

Name the man who said, "Where McCarver at?"

October 24, 2013 at 11:04 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

"Missouri for all intents and purposes could win the East on Saturday. Read that sentence again. Missouri... clinching the East... in October."

I believe I was the one who first brought that fact to light on this very forum. You're welcome.

Vandy is good. That's a stone-cold fact. Can they beat the Aggies on Saturday? Doubtful. But then again, I never imagined "Da Bulls" could topple #6 Louisville but I watched that upset unfold. Can Missouri beat the Aggies in the final game of the season? Yep.

At this point, the only way for the Mocs to lose is to literally beat themselves. As long as they play a clean game and go all out as they do every Saturday, this will be another chalk up in the win column. What I find interesting, and flat out enjoyable, is the fact a win will but the Mocs at 6-2 going into November. I've been following this program for 16 years and have never seen them at 6-2 going into November. Had it not been for the errors regarding the GSU game, it would be 7-1. Either way you look at it, OUT-standing.

October 24, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.
MocTastic said...

In addition to McCarver, I submit Chris Berman for anything he does, any sport. Chris, please retire, immediately.

Additionally I am not on the Ernie Johnson Jr bandwagon. I was an ardent listener of Ernie Sr, but Ernie Jr's voice just grates on me and he really doesn't have alot of good things to say. Ernie Jr, please join Berman on the bus out of town.

Also, I will be a heretic here, but Vin Scully's best days are waaaay behind him. There comes a time when old baseball announcers should move along, that point has been reached for him.

So, Vin get on the bus. McCarver is driving and will take you into retirement. Deion Sanders in retrospect was quite correct in dumping that gatorade on McCarver back in the early 90s in the Braves clubhouse.

October 24, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We're with you on the series. Cards-Red Sox, big-name bunches with big followings. We should care more than we do but we don't.

Leaning toward the Cats tonight too. Although Paschall likes MSU. So it goes.

Walden —

Glad to, and thanks for reading.

And who knew that Deion Sanders was ahead of the curve on McCarver. He's all about Prime Time, you know.

JMC —

You have a front-row seat on the Mizzou bandwagon for sure.

And yes, the Mocs should win, but there have been some stumbles in should-win games before. We believe they are ready, but man this was the type of game Tommy Tuberville routinely dropped at Auburn. Got some momentum, got some steam, and stink bomb against a banged-up Arkansas team.

We'll see.

October 24, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

You edged us on the Deion praise.

And we could not agree more on Berman. Egads, he is brutal.

That said, we could not disagree more on Scully. Maybe we're a sentimental Dodger fan, but Vin Scully doing a game feels like summer time.

And his soliloquy in Costner's "For Love of the Game" is the best part of that movie.

One more year, Vin.

Side question: What's your Rushmore of Vin?

We'll take Vin Scully, Vinnie Johnson, Vinny Testaverde and My Cousin Vinny. Thoughts?

October 24, 2013 at 11:36 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

I love Vandy at A&M +18 because of this. Did you see the A&M offense the one possession Manziel missed against Auburn? (Maybe he missed more, but I only remember one, and it seems like it was a three and out.) I think that if Manziel doesn't play (and the rumor has it that he is playing), that Vandy WINS outright. If Manziel does play, then that goes out the window, but Vandy is good enough to hang around in this one even if Manziel does play. Personally, I think A&M would have beaten Auburn last week if Manziel had not been out for any time at all, because they were moving the ball so well against Auburn for most of the day until that happened. Doesn't change the fact that it happened, though. Not trying to diminish the Auburn win. Is the spread Baylor -65.5? Because that's the only way that the over/under should be set at 66. No way Baylor is held under 60. They may give 21, but that covers the over/under easily. I actually think South Carolina may rally behind Dylan Thompson. I would not be surprised to see South Carolina win that game. That's one of the biggest toss-ups of the week in my mind. My computer- it disagrees. It loves Missouri. Debate this week in Lexington- best chance for a UK win down the stretch other than Alabama State? Most everyone agrees it is tonight against Mississippi State. That being said, last night I heard someone predict wins over Mississippi State, Alabama State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and either Missouri or Georgia (because they didn't want to go crazy on their picks). Also, in the last week, I've heard someone say that this is the best they've ever seen Kentucky play football, including the 2007 team that made it into the Top Ten in the country. I'd like to hang up and hear your thoughts on that.

October 24, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Also from friend of the show StuckinKent

I'd like to point out that my computer had Mizzou ranked in the Top Ten dating back to their wins over Indiana and Arkansas State in September. The rankings were high on Auburn earlier than most and Missouri. Also Washington. Hey- nobody's perfect!

October 24, 2013 at 12:02 p.m.
MocTastic said...

JG, yes, you are jaded with respect to Vin being a Dodgers fan. A comparison was Harry Carey working for the Cubs. Cubs fans loved him, but to a Cubs neutral fan Harry overstayed his career. The compromise is to let Vin to continue to do Dodgers games, but nothing national please, let the Dodgers fans enjoy him, but the rest of us can move on.

October 24, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.
chas9 said...

Cousin Vinnie is the golden Vin. Van Gogh's there, too. Maybe Vincent Price. I'll take Vin Diesel over one of your others.

Tip o' the derby to both JMC and Stuckey for touting Mizzou early.

And Stuckey, I'm sorry to hear that there's a Big Blue fan who's downed so much Maker's Mark as to expect UK to win five more. I'd be delirious with three more.

Back when UCLA was hiring a new basketball coach someone said they'd attract a good one because it's one of the top five programs. I said no way, maybe top ten. Jay said because of the Wooden years they're still top five.

Now Sports Illustrated has ranked the "best current programs." They say the top five (in order) are Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State and UNC. They have Florida at #11 and The Bruins at #12. Memphis is #15. UT somehow was omitted.

Yes, I'm dum, but Jay's dumber.

October 24, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

9er- I said before the year I was optimistically picking 4-8. Could be 3-9. I'm struggling to get to 3. I'm hopeful that they can get there, but I'm struggling to find the third. Tonight is certainly the easiest way, but on Thursday night in Starkville? Not the best. The next best is probably Tennessee in Lexington. We'll have to play that one by ear....

October 24, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Best way to watch a McCarver-called game? With the sound off. And the closed captioning off too.

October 24, 2013 at 1:56 p.m.
Stewwie said...

To me, the Mizz/SC line has "trap game" written all over it. Why is this line not any bigger than 2.5?

Toto's "Africa" and Europe's "The Final Countdown" fall into the "weird, yet cool" category for me. However, if played too much, they can easily get annoying. But hearing them every once in a while makes me want to time warp back to the 80s for a minute. But only for a minute.

For the mailbag (or Tuesday), what are your NBA predictions for the upcoming season? At the least, pick who you think will win the conference finals and Finals. The West looks like it will be a little more unpredictable than the East.

October 24, 2013 at 3:09 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

JMC, if Vandy was good, would they be 4-3? Their three wins prior to the Georgia meltdown were Austin Peay, UMass and UAB. Not. Murderer's. Row. They can beat Kentucky. They can beat Wake Forest. But I don't see more than seven wins for Vandy this year.

As the man said, you are what your record says you are.

October 24, 2013 at 3:29 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

There is a trap game feel, but that has to be balanced in part because Vegas sets these numbers and the country knows Steve Spurrier is coaching the Gamecocks. Plus, Vegas can't go too high on Mizzou and risk the double dip that a game like this offers.

Follow along: Even as late as last week, USC was a 4-point favorite in this one. If you swing the number to Mizzou say -7 the window becomes so big that everyone bets the other side, and hopes it lands in that 11-point cushion and collect twice. At that point there's no since in trying to have equal money on each side because the sides started so catterwomped.

Spy —

He lost us so many times last night it was comical. He's worse that Vitale, and that's saying something.

9er —

Strong list of Vinny's but if anyone showed up and called Mr. Van Gogh 'Vinny' then he got a paint brush to the ear. No the other one.

As for the dumb comment. Am knot. R 2.

Stuck —

We confirm your computer's high view of the Tigers and the Tigers from very early in the process.

As for UK better today than 2007, ummmm, nope.

That said, we believe Stoops is making strides. In fact we got a mailbag question to grade the first year SEC coaches, so we'll get more on that manana.

October 24, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Good points on the reasoning behind the 2.5 line.

Did you decide yet on which 2 other games to pick?

October 24, 2013 at 4:42 p.m.
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