1) LSU or Georgia, who you got?
We have yet to reach October, and the Georgia Bulldogs are taking a third swing at a top-10 foe. A win positions them to be the top one-loss team in the country at the end of the season if they run the table. That's a good thing. An LSU win almost assuredly sets up the Tigers' trip to Tuscaloosa as a BCS semifinal. Of all the even matches across each position -- Mettenberger vs. Murray, Hill vs. Gurley, Beckham vs. UGA's deep receiving corps -- here's a name to know: Craig Loston. Loston is a fifth-year senior safety who returned to LSU for moments like this.
2) Are the kiddie Rebels ready for prime time?
The Ole Miss Rebels have cleared every hurdle so far, relying on a big-play offense with quarterback Bo Wallace and 5-foot-8 speedster Jeff Scott and a slew of new faces. The Rebels won road games against then-ranked Vanderbilt and then-ranked Texas. This is a group that is feeling good and has Ole Miss fans giddy enough to forgive Peyton Manning for picking Tennessee. Well, almost. That said, feeling good and beating pretenders (remember when Mack Brown was still paying attention at Texas?) is a far cry from winning in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is 3-0 and the No. 1 team in the country. The Tide have a certain irritable quality about them because they have not played to their normal levels of expected excellence and seem to be tired of hearing about their shortcomings. If Alabama brings its A-game, the Ole Miss run will come to an abrupt halt. If the Tide continue to mix melancholy with mediocrity, there could be Hotty Toddys for everyone.
3) Florida's depth will be tested -- just not this week
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is done for the year. All-America candidate defensive tackle Dominique Easley is done for the year. So are tackle Chaz Green, receiver Andre Dubose and linebacker Matt Rolin. Will Muschamp is dealing with a lot of stuff, and while candlesticks make a nice gift, there's work to be done. Travis Murphy will get his first start as the Gators QB1 Saturday in Lexington after a nice second-half rebound from the U-G-L-Y -- you-ain't-got-no-alibi UGLY -- first half in his relief stint against Tennessee. While Murphy looks the part, Easley's void will be tougher to fill.
4) Johnny Football's road show
Point-spread mysteries aside, Johnny Manziel will take his show on the road for the first time this season when the Aggies visit Arkansas. Always embracing controversy and the spotlight, Johnny Football had eye-popping numbers away from College Station during his Heisman-winning season last year. In seven road games, Johnny Hotshot was 153-of-226 for 1,991 yards and 14 TDs with only four picks passing and ran for 974 yards and 13 TDs. Dude loves the big stage, huh?
5) How many empty seats will be in Neyland Stadium?
With another cupcake lunchtime feast for the Vols, there are some concerns that there could be huge blocks of empty seats in the student section. Maybe they need to announce to the student body that Nathan Peterman is not going to play. To his credit, Butch Jones has said he needs to do a better job of selling the Vols to the students. Either way, Vols fans everywhere -- be they undergrads, graduates or just lifelong followers -- are starving for something to believe. Also, with a devilish October on the horizon, this may be the last chance for the Vols to celebrate a win for a while.
Fab 4-plus-1 picks
For most of the week, the only line posted on the Interweb for Texas A&M's visit to Arkansas is the Aggies minus-3. If you could have found someone taking that line, you should have immediately stopped what you were doing, bought a ticket to Vegas (where you can wager legally, of course) and risked every available red cent to your name and enjoyed a jumpstart on your retirement.
There is no posted line on this game even as late as this morning, and the questions about Arkansas' quarterback situation do not seem to merit the delay. Something seems to be rotten in Denmark. Or Vegas, College Station or Fayetteville, for that matter. Know this: We are not picking this game because we do not have a number on it. But if you can find it under Texas A&M minus-10, you have our full support to put all your discretionary entertainment out there. Of course, the late posting was Aggies minus-15 and the hubbub has been partly attributed to boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. putting an obscene amount of coin on the Aggies.
As for the picks, well, picking games has been kind of a hobby of ours for years. And we're off to a liquid-hot start. Our percentage is not as high as the famous/infamous Izod, the regular Wednesday picker on "SportTalk" with Quake, Dr. B (he is a doctor, after all) and Cowboy Joe. Izod is a legit 5-0 against the number so far this year, and his 100 percent accuracy is better than our 79 percent. (Hey, God bless our Auburn education, huh?)
To the games:
BYU minus-23 vs. MTSU: Other than the three-named BYU linebacker (Kyle Van Somethingorother) and the local kids on MTSU's team, we do not know a single matchup. Here's what we do know: MTSU traveled to South Florida last week and now travels to Utah on a short week for tonight's game to face a BYU team steaming off a loss to rival Utah last week. This is a BYU team that beat Texas by 19. Do you believe Texas is only four points better than MTSU?
Pittsburgh-Virginia, over the 51.5: Gross game, but again, we are not picking the best games to watch. We are picking the best entertainment investment opportunities.
Florida minus-13 over Kentucky: Yes, the Gators are banged up to the nth degree. Still, Florida over Kentucky is like death and taxes, and stomach issues after cheap Mexican food. Maybe if the Wildcats play a wide receiver at quarterback ... Nope. Welcome to the party, Travis Murphy, and enjoy the ride.
Boise State minus-27 against Southern Miss: USM's Golden Eagles are traveling across the country for a 10:15 p.m. Eastern kick. This one screams of 56-10.
Duke minus-10 over Troy: Buy the half here just to be safe, but the Sun Belt looks incredibly week this year, as Troy and Arkansas State have started to flounder. If Duke's Devils can score 55 on Pitt in the pouring rain, you feel good about them putting up half a hundred on the Trojans, right?
Last week against the spread: 4-1
On the season against the spread: 15-4-1
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 ...