In a college football world that has been dominated by the musical-chair money grab that is conference expansion, there were two strange storylines this week that fell off the radar.
First, city officials in Morgantown, W.Va., have started taking preemptive steps to calm the antics after tonight’s West Virginia home game against LSU. Brief history lesson: Apparently WVU fans are apt to light things on fire — win or lose — after big games, and authorities are expecting a big crowd and big energy tonight. Wow. Just wow.
Second, and this one strains belief. After Nevin Shapiro, the locked-up former rogue booster who claimed to provide NCAA-forbidden benefits to as many as 72 Miami football players, told his story to Yahoo! Sports, Luther Campbell has filed a lawsuit claiming Shapiro “slandered and defamed” him.
Yes, Luther Campbell, AKA Luke Skywalker, who was the frontman for the former rap mega-group 2 Live Crew, has sued for slander and is seeking more than $15,000 because, as the lawsuit states, Shapiro falsely accused Campbell of “illegal and immoral behaviors relative to college-age kids.” Yes, the man who made his career with borderline illegal rap lyrics and a truckload of immoral behavior is now suing for those very charges.
It’s hard to know whether to make a joke or quote a fortune cookie.
Let’s just move on before my head pops off.
On to the picks.
Last week’s guesses: 5-3 overall; 5-2-1 against the spread
Season’s guesses: 23-5 overall; 19-7-2 against the spread
Georgia at Ole Miss
12:21 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
• TV/Radio: WDSI/102.3 FM
• Breakdown: Over/under on points — 54.5 (go over). Over/under on Ole Miss turnovers — 5 (go over). Over/under on attractive coeds in Oxford — whatever it is, go over. Over/under on number of times Houston Nutt updates his resume between now and Monday — 14 (go over).
• The line: Georgia minus-9.5
• The pick: Georgia, 40-16
Arkansas at Alabama
3:30 p.m., Bryant-Denny Stadium
• TV/Radio: CBS/97.3 & 99.3 FM
• Breakdown: For those people who say college football needs a playoff, you’re right. But in some ways games such as this one are playoff games. Here’s saying the Tide will pass with flying colors because the Hogs will have a hard time getting a pass off.
• The line: Alabama minus-11.5
• The pick: Alabama, 34-13
Florida Atlantic at Auburn
7 p.m., Jordan-Hare Stadium
• TV: FoxSS
• Breakdown: The stats are eye-gouging. Of the 120 teams in the FBS, Auburn’s defense and FAU’s offense rank in the bottom one-sixth in every major category. Every one. Here’s saying that when the Owls have the ball today, they just flip a coin: Heads is a first down; tails is no gain. That way no one will get dirty. Trophies for everyone.
• The line: Auburn minus-33
• The pick: Auburn, 59-20
Vanderbilt at South Carolina
7 p.m., Williams-Brice Stadium
• TV/Radio: ESPN2/1370 AM
• Breakdown: Vanderbilt is 3-0 for only the second time since 1984. To get to 4-0, the ’Dores must corral South Carolina stud sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore, who only leads the nation in rushing at 178 yards per game. Wow. Picking against Vandy backfired last week, but unless it can pick off five passes again this week, the streak snaps today.
• The line: South Carolina minus-16
• The pick: South Carolina, 28-17
Florida at Kentucky
7 p.m., Commonwealth Stadium
• TV: ESPN
• Breakdown: Kentucky lost to Louisville last week, and it was not pretty. In fact, here’s saying that today’s outcome will be equally as stomach-turning for the Big Blue Nation, who will have three questions come Monday: How many days till basketball? What happened to Randall Cobb? How much is Joker Phillips’ buyout?
• The line: Florida minus-19
• The pick: Florida, 44-13
Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State
7 p.m., Davis Wade Stadium
• TV: ESPNU
• Breakdown: This is what’s known in the business as the “Get Well” game. After a disappointing loss to Auburn two weeks ago and a bruising loss to LSU last Thursday, the Bulldogs — and more importantly quarterback Chris Relf — will bounce back hard on the Techsters. FYI — Familiar folks with connections to La. Tech include current UT coach Derek Dooley, four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Terry Bradshaw, country music star Trace Adkins and Chattanooga’s own Venus Lacy.
• The line: Mississippi State minus-20
• The pick: Mississippi State, 49-14
LSU at West Virginia
8 p.m., Milan Puskar Stadium
• TV: ABC
• Breakdown: Two things about West Virginia you need to know: First, they sell beer inside the stadium; second, Morgantown authorities are confiscating loose boards, sofas and wood from area homes to prevent the fires after tonight’s game. Are we sure West Virginia is not SEC material after all?
• The line: LSU minus-5.5
• The pick: LSU, 30-13
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 ...