published Friday, September 6th, 2013

Greeson: Five SEC things to look forward to this weekend

Let's cut the small talk and get cracking.

1) Season on the line in Athens, Ga.

The Georgia fan base is on pins and needles. A hair-splitting, fingernail-biting, 38-35 loss to Clemson last week leaves the Bulldogs facing a South Carolina team with the real chance that a loss means the season's championship goals are done in eight days. If South Carolina manages to pull out a "W," maybe Mark Richt and Co. can schedule Wofford for a game for third place in the Palmetto State.

2) Western Kentucky looking for a 2-0 start in the SEC East.

You know how when a team is underrated and then everyone talks about how it is underrated to the point that it becomes overrated? That's the turn of Western Kentucky this week. After the Hilltoppers pasted Kentucky last week, everyone is calling this an upset special. Well, everyone other than the folks in Vegas, who build really fancy buildings for gamblers because of games like this one. That said, you know the Tennessee talent base is depleted when Johnny Vols Fans are legitimately worried because a 5-foot-7 white wide receiver may not play.

3) Miami-Florida: Who's blowing Sunshine?

The Hurricanes have the edge on offense, especially with running back Duke Johnson's big-play ability. The Gators are content playing rugged and slow. (Side note: Who came up with the word "smashmouth"? We prefer the old Fat Albert character Mush Mouth personally.) Miami quarterback Stephen Morris will decide this one. If he protects the ball, the Hurricanes will be tough to handle.

4) The Malzahn Bowl.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and the Tigers face the team he coached to the Sun Belt Conference title last year. Both teams look to run the ball -- a lot. And amazingly, of the talented runners on the field -- and after one week, there are six players in this one with more than 70 rushing yards -- the highest-ranked runner coming out of high school is Arkansas State back David Oku. Yes, that David Oku, who was the nation's top-ranked all-purpose back when he signed with Lane Kiffin and the Volunteers those many moons ago.

5) Missouri as a dark horse in the SEC East.

OK, the Tigers thumped Murray State 58-14 and churned up a whisker shy of 700 yards of offense. Open up and insert cupcake joke here. Saturday, the Tigers face a Toledo team that frustrated Florida in the Swamp last week. Dazzle us against the Rockets, Mizzou, and then we'll talk about dark horse possibilities.

•••

GRAB THE REMOTE

Enjoy the high-quality spacing this week's college football schedule offers. Good times.

Florida at Miami, noon, ESPN

The Hurricanes have Duke Johnson and a chip on their shoulder. The Gators have a better defense and Will Muschamp's YouTube guide to cussing. Edge, Miami. Or Florida if you're George Carlin.

Western Kentucky at Tennessee, 12:21, WDSI

Bobby Petrino is the game's best play-caller. He's also the game's worst motorcycle driver. Do you drive a motorcycle? Either way, Tennessee's running game will be the difference, either in a good or a bad way.

Oregon at Virginia, 3:30, ABC

It's worth checking out the Ducks to see what their uniform combination will be. It's also worth checking out the Ducks because if you miss five minutes, you may miss three TDs. Those cats are quick.

South Carolina at Georgia, 4:30, ESPN

The season hangs in the balance for a large part of Bulldogs nation. A win gives the Bulldogs a leg up in the SEC East. A loss leaves them 0-2 and wondering what happened with LSU still on tap later this month. OUCH-standing.

Notre Dame at Michigan, 8, ESPN

The Irish and the Wolverines, two of college football's true blue bloods. This is like the Morgans and Rockefellers going toe-to-toe. Or the Vanderbilts. Wait, wouldn't Vanderbilt be a better use of the Vanderbilts. Maybe. Or maybe not. My head hurts. Either way, this is the last scheduled trip for the Irish to Ann Arbor for the foreseeable future, and that's sad. Great rivalry with great uniforms. We're in.

Washington State at USC, 10:30, FoxSports 1

Mike Leach vs. Lane Kiffin. If this were a pro rasslin' match, it would be a no-holds-barred steel cager, and we all know Kiffin would find a way to cheat. Still, Leach's Cougars are going to be better this year and the Trojans have a slew of talent. A great way to finish off the day.

WEEKLY PICKS

Well, how about that start? Five-and-bagel. Not too shabby. And here's hoping your entertainment bankroll got a slew of cushion to start the season.

We also must throw out a tip of the cap to Izod, who makes his weekly picks on "SportTalk" on 102.3 on Wednesday afternoons. Izod, who joins Quake and the Good Doctor and Cowboy Joe, started his season 1-0 last week and tossed out an intriguing pick of over the 56 in the Tennessee-Western Kentucky game.

We looked long and hard at that game, and while we like his pick, the five we choose this week are testaments to a few things we have learned about gambling.

One, realize you are picking games to pick winners, not to enhance the enjoyment of watching the game. If you are doing it for the juice and because the game is on TV, well, that's how Vegas builds really fancy buildings. There's a real chance we won't watch a single moment of any of the five games we picked this week. In a perfect world, you make your pick, check the final score and cash the entertainment vouchers.

Secondly, and we believe this as a rule, when a line looks too good to be true, it almost always is. That's why we stayed away from UT-WKU, Miami-Florida and even Auburn-Arky State. All of those lines looked too good. Know that Vegas knows more than you and try to pick humbly. You have to play this game with fear and arrogance.

Here we go:

Duke minus-5 at Memphis: David Cutcliffe does work with less talent than most. And when he can face a team with similar talent, we like our chances.

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.

Arizona minus-10 at UNLV: Hunch pick here because the Wildcats score a ton of points and have a first-round NFL running back. UNLV had Larry Johnson and Randall Cunningham.

Cincinnati minus-7 at Illinois: Illinois surrendered more than 400 yards to Southern Illinois last week. Cincy thumped Purdue. Illini, meet Munchie Legaux; Munchie, meet the Illini.

North Carolina minus-17 vs. MTSU: Here's this week's gem from combing the lines. This is the one that feels like a 52-20 game.

Last week: 5-0

Season: 5-0

And remember, gang, these picks are for entertainment purposes only, and past performance is not an indicator of future results. Enjoy.

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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