published Thursday, December 13th, 2012

5-at-10: Slew of college football, including the first round of bowl picks

We'll have a mailbag on Friday, and if you'd like to participate, drop us a line. As Bluto says in "Animal House" — "Don't cost nothing."

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's spread the joy...

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    Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron reacts after an Alabama field goal against Georgia during a Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bowl Fab 4 picks

For the regulars around these parts, they are well-aware of the Fab 4 (plus 1) picks we make on Thursdays during the college football season.

We pick against the spread and are quick to remind folks these are for entertainment purposes only. And if you have followed along the last two years, we have made a lot of extra entertainment.

We rapped the regular season with a 4-1 mark in the final weekend to finish 51-21-2. By rough calculations, if you had placed 100 entertainments on each pick this season, you'd be roughly 2,670 entertainments to the good after the entertainment commission (wink, wink).

Last year we had mixed success on the bowl games and finished with a better-than-respectable 58-30-2 mark. This year we've been better.

One of the main reasons for our picking success this year was the freedom of choice. We looked for the game that appealed to our keen sense of entertainment opportunity. If that meant the 3:30 SEC game on CBS, then great. If that meant Idaho plus-40 at BYU at 11 p.m., then swell. That's important to remember heading into the postseason, because there are fewer bowl games from which to choose.

Take this weekend, we're making picks, but we're not overly thrilled about them. So why are we doing it? Because we are committed to the entertainment returns of you, dear reader.

So what's on tap this weekend? Well, there are family holiday shindigs and one of the reasons we like to make picks is so when Uncle Craig starts clamoring on about how the Crimson Tide cheated his Georgia Bulldogs with a mouthful of Chex Mix, we can excuse ourself to watch bowl games and politely say, "Yeah, that's a good point. Sorry, we need to watch this for work."

That said, you can feel free to use that one when needed if you play our bowl contest.

Email your picks to us at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com for the following games and point values:

1 pointers (selected because we like the funkiness of the names — 5 max)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)

Poinsettia Bowl — San Diego State (9-3) vs. BYU (7-5)

Beef ’O’ Brady’s Bowl — Ball State (9-3) vs. UCF (9-4)

Fight Hunger Bowl — Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (7-4)

Pinstripe Bowl — Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

2 pointers (because they teams are from the South — 8 max)

New Orleans Bowl — East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (7-4)

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl — Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)

Belk Bowl — Duke (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)

Russell Athletic Bowl — Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3)

3 pointers (because these look like tough picks — 15 max)

Las Vegas Bowl — Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)

Hawaii Bowl — SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3)

Alamo Bowl — Texas (8-4) vs. Orgeon State (9-3)

Sun Bowl — Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. Southern Cal (7-5)

Heart of Dallas Bowl — Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)

4 pointers (around the SEC — 32 max)

BBVA Compass Bowl — Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)

Music City Bowl — Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. N.C. State (7-5)

Chick-fil-A Bowl — LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2)

Gator Bowl — Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)

Capital One Bowl — Georgia (11-2) vs. Nebraska (10-3)

Outback Bowl — South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)

Sugar Bowl — Florida (11-1) vs. Louisville (10-2)

Cotton Bowl — Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)

5 pointers (the rest of the BCS — 15 max)

Rose Bowl — Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)

Orange Bowl — Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2)

Fiesta Bowl — Kansas State (11-1) vs. Oregon (11-1)

10 pointer (duh — 10 max)

BCS National Championship — Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)

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The weekend picks

Picking bowl games is more than analysis and feel. It's more than scouting and studying.

Picking bowl games is centered in football with a minor in psychology. The best picks are the teams in which you know what they are playing for and who they are playing for. In simpler terms, what's their motivation and what's the state of their coaching staff.

Motivation comes in two directions: Is a team like Duke, which has not been to a bowl game since 1994 and has a chance to have a winning season, motivated to work hard regardless of the confusing name of their bowl game? You bet. Is Nebraska a little less than thrilled about a return trip to the Capital One after being favored to go to the Rose and giving up 70 in the Big Ten title game? Makes good sense.

As for coaching defections, this applies to head coaches and coordinators. It also applies to teams that have already made replacement hires. Take Texas Tech for example. The hiring of rising rock star Kliff Kingsbury more than offsets the departure of Tommy Tuberville, considering this gives the younger kids reason to really practice hard for a new head coach.

OK, there are two games Saturday — Nevada-Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl and Toledo-Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Arizona minus-9 over Nevada: We like the fact that Rich Rod likes to score points with an Arizona offense that has been eye-popping at times. We like the fact that Nevada is soooooo cute when they try to tackle. And we like the fact that Nevada has limped into the postseason — a 7-5 record is misleading considering the 6-1 start and the fall to the finish. Side note: The over/under at 73 seems a little high, which means we like the over, too.

Utah State minus-9.5 over Toledo: We like the cut of Utah State's jib. We also like the fact this game is in Idaho, and it's going to be crisp — projected highs in the upper 30s — and Utah State is more comfortable in that setting. Remember, Utah State's two loses this year are to BYU (6-3) and Wisconsin (16-14) and by a total of five points.

There you go.

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    University of Tennessee NCAA college football offensive coordinator Jim Chaney
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This and that (college football)

— AJ McCarron announced that he's coming back for his senior year at Alabama. The 5-at-10 just announced that Alabama will be in the mix for the national title again next year. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

— Jim Chaney landed on his feet. After leading the Vols offense to a big-time year in 2012, Chaney has been hired by Bret Bielema as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. Good hire, and we think Chaney did a very nice job all things considered this year. Working with new RB and OL coaches and a re-positioned WR coach, Chaney's offense was great and bordered on elite. Plus, that success was reached despite losing Da'Rick Rogers, who was thought to be UT's best player, in August. So as good as UT's offense was, it's a little disappointing to think what Chaney and Co. could have done with Tyler Bray in the pocket and and the potential NFL receiving firm of Rogers, Hunter and Patterson running amok through secondaries across the South. And it appears Sam Pittman, who did work with the Vols' offensive line, will be joining Chaney at Arkansas. Nice staff Bielema's building.

— Speaking of building, how about the turn of events that have become the coaching carousel version of musical chairs. Dooley gets axed at UT to be replaced by Butch Jones, who was replaced at Cincy by Tommy Tuberville, who was replaced at Texas Tech by Kliff Kingsbury. And the crazy thing is, each fan base could make an argument that each upgraded.

— Although the stories surrounding Tuberville's exit — he was eating dinner with potential Texas Tech recruits, got a call, excused himself not to return to the meal and was headed to Cincy the next day for the introductory news conference — are quite strange. Wow.

— South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore officially declared for the NFL draft on Wednesday. So did Da'Rick Rogers, the former Calhoun High and UT star receiver who played one trouble-free year at Tennessee Tech. We love the draft — you know this. And let us say right now that if Marcus Lattimore is on the board in round 2 we'd take him. And if Da'Rick is on the board in round 3, we'd take him. Let's say you're the Indy Colts, and you go defensive help in round 1, and then look up and you get the best running back in this class at a discount because of his leg injury and arguably the best receiver physically in this class because he acted like a knucklehead. Thank you and enjoy the continued good (Andrew) Luck.

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    Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) hits Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley (14) as Lindley tries to get a pass off during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Atlanta. The ball was hit loose by Abraham and Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux picked up the ball and ran into the end zone for a touchdown. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This and that (non college football)

— Loved this sign outside a church in Arizona: "No one is beyond God's help — not even the Cardinals."

— Hey, speaking of Cardinals, did you see that a team of the Catholic church's higher-ups and tech-savvy dudes in funny caps helped the Pope launch a Twitter account? Yep, as soon as the 5-at-10 hopped on the Twitter, now everyone is doing it — including the Pope. We were hoping his first Tweet would be: "God Bless everyone, and now that you mention it, yes, this hat is kind of funny."

— Crazy night in the NBA. Suns beat Grizz (sorry Downtown Patrick Brown). Warriors beat Heatles. Thunder escape Hornets/Pelicans in OKC. What does this prove? Not much other than the regular seasons in college and pro basketball are like qualifying for NASCAR races. It may be occasionally interesting, especially if you have skin in the game, but in the end, only the final race/playoffs that count.

— Props to the SportTalk guys last night for a great topic on the best athletes to wear 12 on 12-12-12. Here's our No. 12 Rushmore: Bradshaw, Brady, Stockton and Robbie Alomar. There you go.

— Speaking of talk radio, we're planning on doing our regular stop with Chris Goforth today on 1370 AM around 2 p.m. Swing by, don't cost nothing.

————

Today's question

Also, remember we have one mailbag spot left.

Last night they had a benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy and the New York area. It was entertaining, especially the turns by Adam Sandler, who reworked "Hallelujah" http://www.gossipcop.com/adam-sandler-sandy-relief-hallelujah-video-12-12-12-concert-121212-song-youtube/ and Alicia Keys, who can flat go.

There was also some performances by Billy Joel and Eddie Vetter and Pink Floyd and Kanye among others.

It got us thinking, who would you go see in concert and most dread the haunting words, "Now something from the new album."

We're thinking Billy Joel is a contender. We think Garth Brooks definitely qualifies. And if this is a Rushmore, would we call it the Jimmy Buffett Rushmore?

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...

Don't expect UT to shock the 9-0 Shockers. Going into tonight's Wichita State game, your Tennessee Vols are 4-3 and not yet living up to expectations.

Though still trying to find its flow, KY is averaging 77 points per game. The Vols could only muster 74 in its last two outings combined, including a bad loss to a weak Virginia squad.

Cuonzo's charges have the nation's 152nd highest scoring offense. Trae Golden is managing a paltry 1.6 assists per game, and his assists-to-turnover ratio (2.7) is 11th place in the SEC.

The Big Orange defense is a bit better, but their team total of 23 blocks trails Nerlens Noels' singlehanded 32; and NN has almost as many steals by himself (24) as the whole Vol team (25). Tennessee's rebound total is respectable, but UK has the SEC's best (Double N again) and sixth best rebounder, while Stokes comes in at only #8.

The young Cats will get better, but the veteran Vol squad may not. And UK isn't the only SEC team better than Knoxville U right now. But with Maymon, they coulda been a contender.

December 13, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay (from yesterday in case you missed it)

Run JMC WILL surfice. ^^() However, my other Texas showbiz credits include:

"The Crash at Crush" Dallas Hub Theatre

An industrial video that is on YouTube

Current cast member of "Keith and Margo's Texas Murder Mystery"

Two radio dramas for "Reading and Radio Resource-Dallas"

Also throw in a few open mics at the local comedy clubs/theatres too.

Regarding the topic de jour, it does remind me of a funny David Spade commentary from five years ago. At one time David had a very short-lived "parody" entertainment show on CC called "The Hollywood Report". My favorite segment was one he simply called "There, I said it" where he basically would pick a random topic and basically disect it in his own politically-incorrect fashion. The topic on this one particular segment was regarding "live music performances". I'll just stick with the part of the commentary as it relates to this topic.

He reverts to a time he went to see The Rolling Stones perform only to have them spend an enormous amount of time singing songs from their "new" album which if labeled as the "Beer Run" album because "That's where I'm going". His point was artists need to stick to what I call the 3 to 1 rule: For every three classic songs we expect you to sing, you can squeeze in a new song.

My Rushmore would consist of Phil Collins, Elton John, John Folgerty, and possibly Aerosmith (They haven't had a decent album since Nine Lives).

December 13, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Even Mick Jagger, in doing the top 10 on Letterman the other night, had a line about what he's learned in all his years of rock n roll:

Nobody wants to hear anything from your new album.

December 13, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.
orangeguy said...

Happy for Jim Chaney getting a good SEC gig. The Vols players really seemed to rally around him at season's end. Clearly a popular guy with the team & media in the 865.

He didn't wear No. 12, but Antonio Alfonseca has to be on the honorable mention list of greatest 12's since he has that many digits on his hands & feet.

Question: Kingsbury is the rising star. He's already landed the job at his alma mater. If he does what we all expect is Texas Tech big enough for that guy? I mean, Gundy turned his alma mater into something special and will never leave, but Texas Tech doesn't have a T. Boone and it's far from the second best destination in that state. Even in it's heyday under Leach TTech was a novelty.

December 13, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
Livn4life said...

5-er, I have to wish Chaney and Pittman well, except of course whent they play the Vols. Few people thought they would be out of work for very long. McCarron stays, Marcus and Da'Rick go. I wonder how this will play out in Volaland with the big O three. But time will tell.

Bowls, bowls, what bowls? I thought they were to be eaten out of with like cereal or something. Oh you mean those post season mostly meaningless collegiate football games. I am not a picker except when it comes to acoustic guitar. And no, I have no new album to play from, only have one old one. But by golly at family gatherings/reunions someone always insists that I do the Lion Sleeps Tonight(no reference to the NFL Detroit franchise).

Cardinals...well they may need to link up with the RC School of Cardinals or at least the School of QBing from about anywhere. If the Pope is tweeting maybe they at least will have a prayer.

The Coaching Carousel-I heard Gruden was seen Christmas Shopping at Westtown Mall...nah let's just not go there at all.

December 13, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.
chas9 said...

Jay & O.G.--Kliff was my pick for UK coach (not that I get a pick). Wonder if he'd have come if offered. KY must be a better job, since TT only got The Pirate after UK shunned him.

December 13, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: Glad to see one of Dooley's assistants land on his feet. I thought Georgia's bball team was bad but at least they can score a few points which is more than the Vols can do. As for your Rushmore here is the Parrothead Rushmore: Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and the Stones.

I agree with you on the Bradshaw, Brady and Stockton for the greatest 12's but I have to pass on Alomar. I would replace him with Roger Staubach or Aaron Rodgers. Staubach because he won a Heisman, served the Navy, won a Super Bowl and is in the Pro Football HOF and Rodgers was a MVP and won a Super Bowl plus neither one ever spit on a refree.

December 13, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
orangeguy said...

@chas - I would say Tech is better than UK. 1. Easier conference with easier access to BCS. Catch lightning in a bottle which Leach did a few years back & you're on the cusp. 2. Picking through leftovers of Texas, A&M, & arguably TCU is not a bad gig in that talent rich state. Kentucky has much tougher sledding on both of those fronts.

December 13, 2012 at 11:52 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

No Rushmore of #12's is valid unless it has JOE WILLIE NAMATH

December 13, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

This UT bunch is underachieving because a) Maymon is in street clothes and b) the confidence level right now is tangibly low.

Can anyone explain how UT's favored in this game tonight?

JMC —

That's a strong Buffet Rushmore.

Spy —

Would you not feel like a spring chicken at a Stones' show? Seriously.

Orangeguy —

Nice 12-digit addition. And yes, Chaney was good to deal with and good at his gig. Good for him.

No way Texas Tech is big enough for KK. None. And the meddling of the boosters make that a much-tougher gig than it appears.

If/when KK has success, his moving on will be not unlike Curry leaving Georgia Tech for Alabama a few moons ago.

Livn(Large) —

Was that Gruden's wife — she was a UT cheerleader after all — checking out private schools in Hamilton County? No way.

dawg747 —

Strong Rushmore. We considered Roger Staubach over Bradshaw.

And while we concur that the ref spitting thing was deplorable, we also can make a case that Alomar is the best second baseman ever.

And Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck each could be in the discussion in a few years.

— 5-at-10

December 13, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Orangeguy —

Concur that TT is a better gig on the whole than UK. But the boosters' high expectations for a team staring up the talent/prestige ladder in Texas is a big-time drawback, too.

OG —

Namath is the most overrated NFL Hall of Famer ever.

Period.

Dude was Babe Ruth in charisma and with the ladies, but he threw more INTs than TD passes for crying out loud and if he had not been the first preemptive trash talker, he'd be Trent Dilfer 1.0.

— 5-at-10

December 13, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Not saying that UT is doing well in basketball, but remember that they were awful out of conference last year and turned it around in conference.

Also, losses to Georgetown, Oklahoma State, and Virginia is not bad. Virginia is 8-2, won at Wisconsin, and is ranked #30 in Pomeroy's rankings (which I trust more than most rankings out there). Oklahoma State is #23, Georgetown is #29, and Wichita State is #24. (None of those losses were at home- Wichita State is at home, so maybe a fighting chance in Knoxville.)

Tennessee is #58. Kentucky is #13. I don't think any of those are completely outrageous.

Kentucky is the better team than Tennessee. I don't know who would argue that, or would have argued about it preseason.

December 13, 2012 at 12:04 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

jay wrote

"That's a strong Buffett Rushmore"

My concern is not necessarily the complete omission of new material as much as not being able to sing any of the songs that made you popular due to legal ramifications (Exhibit A: John Fogerty). With Phil Collins, it just maybe a simple "artistic" choice. My choice being I'm not shelling out X amount of $$$ for a ticket if there is a strong possibility he is not going to do a single Genesis song.

December 13, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.
fechancellor said...

"Now here's something from the new album...(shuddering) Here's some suspects.

David Allan Coe, Barbara Streisand, Molly Hatchet, Kiss

10 Ring, unrelated but important, when is the new Randy Travis Chistmas Alblum going to be available online or at stores?

December 13, 2012 at 12:35 p.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--What about the basketball schools leaving the Big Least?

OG--You're certainly right about the in-state talent, but I just think being in THE SEC is worth a lot, even if you dwell near the bottom.

Stuckey--I'm not just saying KY is better than UT. I'm saying one player by his lonesome has better stats (against tougher competition) than the whole Orange team. Stats don't paint the whole picture, but Tennessee's miserable stats are consistent with how they're playing now. Virginia looks pretty weak to me. They only score 63 PPG and have only one good win. The Vols only wins are over Kennesaw, NC-Asheville, UMass, and Oakland. Not Dance-worthy. Maaaaaaaaaaaymon!

December 13, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

fec - is Randy Travis' album titled "A Travis Christmas - Undressed"..er Unplugged? I snorted on my screen when I saw your rushmore - most excellent.

December 13, 2012 at 12:45 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

BTW, my apologies none of my comments are sports-related. But I have zero-interest in Coaches Merry Go Round or Bowlfest 2012.

Vols: New Coach in place Mocs: Huesman trying to plug in some linebackers Lady Mocs: Won ugly last night Other Mocs: Basketball in hoop = two points.

Everything else is details.

December 13, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
Astropig said...

A couple of burrs to get from under my saddle:

1)I love CFB more than...Than...Anything on earth. Late August can NEVER get here fast enough.BUT-

I wish I could hear the death knell for these grade F bowl games. These things make a mockery of big boy football.The college regular season crackles with excitement.That's why it hurts to see teams sleepwalk through a cold afternoon in Shreveport. The few fans that do go to these obscure bowls do so more out of a sense of obligation than anything.They have become a way for the bowls and the schools to shake down donors one more time before putting the pads away.A bowl used to be a reward for a well played season.Now, for most of these bowls, its more of an exhibition game than a real contest.

2) If what I read about Tuberville is true,(A dine and dash on a recruiting dinner),then he's a sphincter.Absolutely no class.I don't care if the boosters at TTU are boorish,he doesn't have to take it out on (potential) players.Tubs can coach (but his best days seem to be in the rear view),but he needs to learn some common courtesy.

December 13, 2012 at 12:48 p.m.
fechancellor said...

mcpell3, thanks and your Travis riff scores Full Marks. I'm thinking "Tighty Whiteys in Aisle Ten" will be a break away hit for Randy.

December 13, 2012 at 1:13 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

DALLAS ALERT JAY!

Straight from the locals a la the DMN.

JR will be buried on the show to air March 11th. As to how they will write him off is unclear. Look for several "Dallas" alumni that had yet to appear on the TNT version. TNT did report officially that he did film five episodes in the 2nd season before his passing. They begin airing on Jan. 28th.

December 13, 2012 at 1:16 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Look here 5, I'm still pretty spry for my age. (I'm a man! I'm 40! ... give or take a few ... let's see, that's ... ok never mind). But having seen the Stones before they were all eligible for AARP, yeah, not so much now.

December 13, 2012 at 1:16 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Wasn't Wade Boggs 12 for the Yankees (I vision I have tried to block out of my mind but like train wrecks and some women, it remains imprinted in indelible ink on the screen in my head)?

Other great 12s: Yvon Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens.

December 13, 2012 at 1:49 p.m.
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