published Thursday, December 1st, 2011

5 at 10: Sandusky, LSU and the Fab 4 (+1)

Gang, we're rolling on a record-setting pace this week — we almost feel like Gary from "Weird Science" when he says, "It's moving, it's working, it's working by itself." Well-played indeed all the way around, from the veterans to the newcomers. Heck, let's even give Urban Meyer a shoutout: "Hey Urban, pull up a chair and relax for 4 minutes... then get back to work or family or work or family... or the back nine at the country club. Holla." (PS — don't forget about Friday's mailbag.)

From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...



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    Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro, File)

Fab 4 (plus 1) picks

We are going to have a boss bowl competition. We'll pick them all, maybe even have a print-out and all kinds of fun stuff. Should be good times.

Before that, however, we have to finish this drill. Last week we went 4-1 (stupid Clemson) on our official picks and 8-1 on all the picks we offered. It was a great week, and hopefully you made some BRAGGING RIGHTS by using those picks since they are completely for entertainment purposes only. (Side story, let's say someone you know put $10 on an eight-team parlay that paid 75-to-1 and hit every game but one — stupid Clemson. Purely speculation, but if that happened, would said person you know have a right to hold a grudge against stupid Clemson? Dang right they would.)

To date we're 41-21-1 against the spread, that's pretty stout, and at least five of those losses are picking games that involved stupid Clemson.

Well with a limited field this week, we were faced with either trying to pick pro games — and that will come soon enough — or making picks on games that are much more difficult than hunting out lines you like. Here we go:

— Virginia Tech minus-7 over Clemson: Buy the hook and be careful, our feelings about stupid Clemson could have clouded our judgment here.

— Houston minus-12 over Southern Miss: Southern Miss is better than most anyone gives them credit for, but amid the coaching rumors and the fact that Houston has a BCS shot to play for and a Heisman candidate to promote, here's saying the 12 is not a big enough number.

— West Virginia minus-1 at South Florida: This feels like a trap game, and under most circumstances we'd stay away from one like this. But the pickings are slim, and by evaluations, West Virginia is better than the Bulls.

— North Texas minus-5 over MTSU: We reiterated SportTalk's Dr. B's (he's a doctor after all) simple advice about picking on the weak in betting. Well, there are few weaker than MTSU, which has lost against the spread in seven of its last eight games.

As for the plus one game, well, we have to go with SEC title game, right? Well, since it was probably in our subscription plan and you folks could get an extra few months free if we don't let's give it our best shot...



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    Louisiana State fans and players celebrate with Tyrann Mathieu following his punt return for a touchdown against Arkansas during the second quarter at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., on Friday.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SEC championship

Before we get to the pick, here are a few factoids to share:

— We told you this week that our crack college football ace David Paschall is in his element right now. Well here are stories six-through-eight (Paschall's Picks: UGA, LSU could meet in 2012, too, Georgia quarterback Murray on a roll as Bulldogs prepare for SEC title game and Georgia wary of LSU's ability to score quickly) this week on the SEC title game and the game's still 48 hours away.

— Who's in for a mini-contest: Pick the score of the title game and we'll decide it, in order, by winning team, the margin of victory and total points. As always "Price is Right" rules are in effect, which means if you go over you're out. We'll bring back an XL T-shirt from the title game for the winners.

— Want to know why Urban Meyer has a chance to blend football and family in the laid-back Big Ten. First their divisions are called legends and leaders, which sounds all library and silly to football fans. Second, as Paschall pointed out, tickets for the first Big Ten title game Saturday can be found online for $10. Yep, TEN bucks. The cheapest seat at the Georgia Dome online starts at $117.99. Plus, there was a swirling report Wednesday that someone — be the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Big Ten or TV affliates or whomever — took out an internet ad offering to pay people $75 to attend the game. The listing has been removed, but here's one discussion of it at outkickthecoverage.com http://outkickthecoverage.com/big-ten-paying-fans-75-to-attend-inaugural-title-game.php. That's right, it appears people are needed to be seat fillers for the Big Ten title, where as we all know of SEC fans who would consider trading family members for tickets to the SEC title game.

OK, let's break it down, old-school:

Talent — LSU, plus-14

Motivation — LSU, plus-11

Us-against-the-world factor — Georgia, plus-8

If one coach wins will he suck face with his wife on national TV — Georgia, minus-3

Quarterback — Georgia, plus-8

Does either team have a defensive end with a super-boss football name like Barkevious Mingo — LSU, plus-7

Can either team counter with a Baccari, I-Perfection or Scientific — Georgia, plus-3

Which coach has the coolest nickname — LSU, plus-2 (The Mad Hatter)

Add them up, LSU 34, Georgia 16. Sometimes, it's just that easy.



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    Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky, center, arrives in handcuffs at the office of Centre County Magisterial District Judge Leslie A. Dutchcot. (AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Andy Colwell)

And that settles all doubt

If there was any doubt that Jerry Sandusky was guilty of the evil he's accused of, the news this morning cleared all of that up.

As the first civil suit was filed this week against Sandusky, his former charity, the Second Mile, and his former employer, Penn State, that alleges more than 100 acts of sexually assault against a boy, Sandusky's attorney told the Patriot-News that exploring a plea deal is an option. Read the story here (Jerry Sandusky's lawyer says plea deal is possible if more victims come forward, previews his defense) by Sara Ganim, who has been one of the top reporters on this story from the start.

OK, ball game. That seals it. If a person is accused of this level of evil — because that's what this is — and the defense team is will to even

Hey, the legal system can be an intricate thing filled with lots of difficult decisions and debates. But this is not settling a slew of parking tickets or believing your innocent, but thinking the deal is easier that fighting it out in court. In this case and with these crimes, there is no hedging the system. There would never be a reason to say, "Well, I can see where the person may think this, so may be we better listen to the deal..."

No way. NO WAY. If you are accused of hundreds of acts of sexual assault against boys, you either fight for your innocence to the end or you did it.



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    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) huddles the team against the Detroit Lions in the first quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

This and that

— We think the Packers can go unbeaten. But is 16-0 the goal? Nope, winning the Super Bowl is the goal, and sometimes a regular-season loss is not the worst thing in the world — especially when you have a playoff system.

— That was a nice win for UNC on Wednesday. The Tar Heels got 20 points from player-of-the-year candidate Harrison Barnes (who is a S-T-U-D, by the way) in a 60-57 win over No. 7-ranked Wisconsin (which needs to be added to the list of teams that can win the whole thing, 9er). UNC-Kentucky on Saturday will be fun, and could show us some things about what figures to be a big-time year in college hoops, as ace columnist Mark Wiedmer tells us here (Wiedmer: Is SEC hoops like football?).

— There's a whole bunch of whispers and wondering about if Tiger Woods is back after his better-than-expected showing at the Presidents Cup. Well, he appears healthy and he's saying the right things, but let's be really clear about this — Tiger, circa 2006, when he was nuking the golf world and you'd be happy with Tiger vs. the field in every event from Moc Bend 4-ball to the Masters is done. No matter how much he improves or how healthy he gets or well he's striking the ball, Tiger lost his air of invincibility to his competitors and here's saying he'll never intimidate the field the way he did pre-Thanksgiving 2009 and the subsequent personal-life meltdown. Will Tiger win again? More than likely. Could he make a run at Jack's 18 majors? Doubtful. Will he be the Hulk Hogan-Michael Jordan-Muhammed Ali-Jon Bon Jovi combination that ruled sports? Never again.

— As if there are some left after a 9-40 stretch under recently fired coach Paullllll Wullllllff (those extra L's were added to make a point) here's saying that every Johnny Washington State Fan is tickled pink with the hiring of Mike Leach. The Pirate can coach offense and will make the program better. Think Texas Tech is a little upset for siding with ESPN goof Craig James in the dispute between Leach and Adam James? Tech finished 5-7 in Year 2 under Tommy Tuberville and missed a bowl game for the first time in 11 years. Ouch-standing.

— Bobby Valentine will be introduced as the Red Sox manager today. Red Sox Nation will take Friday off to mourn the news. Yankees Nation will take Friday off to nurse the ensuing hangover from celebrating the decision.

— Another Paschall stat of note: UT football has lost 27 games in the last four years. The Vols lost 22 games in the 1990s. Ouch-standing.



Today's question

You knew this was coming:

SEC title game... Who you got, by how many and why?

Bring it, the fate of middle Earth and an SEC title game T-shirt are at stake.

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.
chas9 said...

5 to 10--I'm with you on props to Weeds and Pasquali. Could even say they're propping up the ol' sports ed. Good traditional point spread analysis on your part.

With the SEC football season all but done, how do you rate the job the coaches did? Lexington Herald Leader columnist John Clay ranks them, giving a rationale for each at www.kentucky.com/2011/11/30/1977402/j... Clay says it goes like this:

1) Les Miles

2) James Franklin

3) Mark Richt

4) Steve Superior

5) Nick Saban

6) Bobby Petrino

7) Will Muschamp

8) Gene Chizik

9) Joker Phillips

10)Dan Mullen

11) He whose name shall not be mentioned

12) Houston Nutt

He all but says that had a wide receiver playing QB beaten The Vols, numbers 9 and 11 would be reversed. What say you?

December 1, 2011 at 10:14 a.m.
chas9 said...

Washington State says "Aaarg!"

December 1, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.
patrickd said...

Hey 5at10, Would you say that having to coach at Washington State is like being locked in a dark closet? He could've done better in my opinion.

December 1, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

That's a great idea for the column. Clay does good work.

We'll rank our 12 in the mailbag Friday, but as for the UT-UK game swinging 9 and 11? No doubt. No doubt. That and the fallout since then about players "not wanting to be on the field" and the stories about the rifts in the locker room make it even worse.

Although ol' Houston locked up No. 12 early on, didn't he.

And no doubt, Wash. State folks are super-giddy this morning. Trading Paulllll Wulllllff for Mike Leach is the most one-sided deal since the Braves dealt an aging Doyle Alexander for a young John Smoltz.

— 5-at-10

December 1, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Pdavi —

Maybe he could have done better, but remember he's been out there for a while and this is his first solid offer since Closet-Gate with the James Gang.

He may have gotten a better offer, but not much better considering his lawsuit is still out there. Plus, if this is a "get-back-in-the-game" job, there are few out there in which he can move right to being bowl eligible pretty quickly.

Washington State has the easier division in the Pac-12 and six-plus wins is doable quickly.

That's not the case at Ole Miss (stinky), UNC (NCAA sanctions), Kansas (stinky) or even UCLA.

— 5-at-10

December 1, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

". . . consider trading family members for tickets to the SEC title game."

Trade? No. But some of us would consider sacrificing family members for tickets to the SEC title game, especially if they are Bama fans. Selling into slavery is on the table too.

December 1, 2011 at 10:45 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

To quote the literary genius L. McDonald Grizzard on my reaction to the Red Sox hiring Bobby V...

Frankly, I don't want to talk about it.

LSU 33-17 over Georgia on Saturday. Virginia Tech 31-13 over the reeling Dabos (and we made the mistake of taking Clemson, too. We made up for it by taking Florida State and Stanford).

December 1, 2011 at 11:12 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JP —

The crush for tickets in memorable seasons — be it Alabama in 2009 or Auburn last year or LSU or Alabama this year or whomever — in the SEC is overwhelming.

In the Big Ten, it's apparently, blah.

9er, JP, Pdavi, who you got in the SEC title game?

Spy —

Your down — with the Bobby V hiring and with your SEC pick.

And there's more than a little anger in our ACC title game pick, so judgement could have been clouded.

— 5-at-10

December 1, 2011 at 11:45 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

LSU-31 Dawgs-14

December 1, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
patrickd said...

Georgia 7

LSU 46

December 1, 2011 at 12:02 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Pullman Washington is by no means adjacent to the clouds of recruits in Texas and Oklahoma as was the case when Leach was at Texas Tech. Lot's of land, not much recruits, with stiff competition from Boise State, Washington, BYU, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, Colorado and Utah State to name a few.

Not giving the Dawgs a chance. Why LSU...this is just another taking care of business game for the Tigers on the way to the BCS Title Game.

LSU-26 (46)

December 1, 2011 at 12:04 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

No, big fella, Va Tech steamrolled the Cavs and Clemson failed to show up for the Palmetto State championship. Even that master motivator, Dr. Dabo Swinney, will be hard-pressed to re-inflate the paper Tigers for this weekend.

December 1, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

LSU-42 DAWGS-17

December 1, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.
Blueoval said...

LSU 28 Dawgs 10

December 1, 2011 at 12:22 p.m.
jgreeson said...

OK, like the flow right now.

FE to the C —

Fair points, but Leach brings some flair and may be able to land a West Coast slinger who can turn that ship quickly. He did some magic in Lubbuck with an undermanned Red Raiders club against better competition (the Big 12 was tough when Mack Brown was still awake at Texas, OU and OSU were scoring and Jaba the Mangino was at Kansas).

We'll see.

Spy —

The Fighting Dabos peaked around the 5-at-10's birthday in early October (We're a MAN! We're 41!).

Here's what we got for the SEC title game contest so far:

Blue Oval — LSU 28-10

McPell — LSU 45-16

Eastridge8 — LSU 42-17

5-at-10 — LSU 34-16

Mrs. 5-at-10 — LSU 31-20

OTWatcher — LSU 30-24

FEchancellor — LSU, 36-10

Spy — LSU 33-17

Pdavi — LSU 46-7

JProctor — LSU 31-14

TFP SEC ace David Paschall — LSU 30-19

We'll try to get some of the other media folk in town to play along, too.

Whatcha' got?

December 1, 2011 at 12:34 p.m.
chas9 said...

5'll get ya 10--The Kickoff is a venerable Chattanooga institution. You know this. For too many decades than I'll admit to, it's been a source of useful conversation fodder, before the internet and before newspaper Vegas odds. But I got a complaint.

Tennessee goes 5-7, 1-7, while Kentucky goes 5-7, 2-7, and beats The Vols head to head with a wide receiver at QB. (I just like saying that.) But the Kickoff has the Small Orange rated three points ahead of Big Blue. That's about right if you take the season as a whole, but for the teams right now, that frisbee won't fly.

Of course they list KY as 1-7 in the SEC, so maybe they just don't like the Wildcats.

December 1, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.

I am going to love the shirt. GA 14 LSU 10

December 1, 2011 at 12:51 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

You can't rank UK above UT this year. You can't. Same overall record, UK has one more SEC record and beat them head-to-head.

If there's some formula out there that spits out a ranking that has UT ahead of UK this year, well, the formula needs to be examined.

Addict —

Love the gumption. You think the Dawgs do it for Larry?

— 5-at-10

December 1, 2011 at 1:30 p.m.
Bdub13 said...

I'm going with LSU 42-24.

On the subject of conference championship games, can the Pac-12 really call their game a championship when one of the teams has a 6-6 record and just received a beat-down from their cross-town rival?

The AFC teams do not seem to have the saem drive they once did and I wonder if it has to do with the fact that none of the teams want to be the sacrificial lamb for the Packers as they(likely) win their second straight championship.

December 1, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.
memphisexile said...

I am staying out of this one because I don't like to make picks when my team is playing. However, I agree that Barkevious Mingo, or "Keke" as he is known to his teammates, has a fantastic name. Check out the LSU v. Oregon game where he, a DE, ran down LaMichael James, one of the fastest RB in college football.

Leach to WSU is a great hire in my opinion. They have some history with running a wide open passing attack, and in the Pac-12 an up tempo offense is the name of the game. Residing in the Pac-12 north allows for easy victories over Oregon St., Cal, Washington and Stanford (we will see how good they are without Luck). I can't wait for some fantastic games between WSU and Oregon that look like basketball scores.

December 1, 2011 at 2:13 p.m.

I keep looking at the match-ups. And while LSU "should" win this football game, I think that it will be closer than all these folks are predicting. I just don't see LSU putting a 35 on the board against the Dawgs. And I think GA have a better chance of scoring on the LSU defense (mobile quarterback). But GA will have to be able to run a little. And yes.....go out their and win one for the "Munson"!

December 1, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Bdub —

You're down. And you're spot on about the Pac-12 title game. We'd rather watch Oregon scrimmage with 1s on 1s — heck, 1s on 3s would be better — than watch the Ducks destroy UCLA. That said, if UCLA can find away to pull magic out of the air and win the game and secure a BCS bid, there's potential that the Bruins would have fired a coach a week before he takes his alma mater to the Rose Bowl. Ouch-standing.

Fair point about the AFC. The conference as a whole is also starting to age noticeably, which seems logical when the Pats, the Steelers and the Colts have been so good for so long and have been picking at 25-plus in the first round for years. The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.

Exile —

We almost named our son Barkevious, but we went family name. So it goes.

Great point about Luck leaving and Stanford going back to mediocre. A team can make some serious noise in the less-than-stellar Pac-12, especially in the North division.

— 5-at-10

December 1, 2011 at 2:44 p.m.
Musicman375 said...

LSU 35-21

December 1, 2011 at 4:02 p.m.
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