Fab 4 (plus 1):
We've had an excellent run here at the Fab 4 (plus 1), because we remember a couple of basics. One, if a line looks too good to be true, it normally is. Two, play what you know and what you think you know and know what you think really doesn't matter. (We promise that made sense we we started.)
Look for numbers and match-ups and possible scenarios that make the most sense. And remember, since these are picks against the spread and they are for entertainment purposes only, only risk the amount of entertainment with which you are comfortable. Let's keep it safe out there. Get the papers, get the papers.
After last week's 4-1 mark, we're an extremely profitable 39-16-2 this year. Not too shabby. Sadly, we do not get a good vibe from tonight's Virginia-UNC game since we've hit the last four Thursday night picks. UVa-UNC though feels a lot like driving down Market Street and throwing a $50 bill out the window and hoping it comes back a $100.
Speaking of investment opportunities, if you had bet $100 on the UT and the over to start the season and let it ride each week, do you know that you'd have $102,400 riding on the Vols and Vandy scoring more than 60 combined points this week. Yep, UT is a perfect 10-0 going over the total - SAAALLLLL!!! - one of only two teams that we have found to be perfect this picking season. (Utah State is a perfect 10-0 against the spread this year, too.)
Mississippi State minus-6.5 against Arkansas: The Hogs are done. Quarterback Tyler Wilson is a senior and it's hard to remember a guy having a bigger disappointment by returning for his final year in school. The Bulldogs fought with LSU last week and have plenty to play for at 7-3 and dreams of a Florida bowl. Plus, Arkansas' biggest strength - its passing game - goes against Mississippi State's top tandem of corners.
Louisiana-Monroe minus-10 against North Texas: We'd buy the half here and feel pretty good. Yes, the La-Monroe Warhawks have lost two in a row, but those games were without quarterback Kolton Browning, who is probable for this game. How much of difference does Browning make in their spread offense? Well, with him they are 6-2 with an overtime loss at Auburn and a five-point loss at Baylor. Without him they are 0-2. Discuss among yourselves and you're welcome.
USC minus-4 at UCLA: Is there more of a head-scratching road game than USC at UCLA. They're in the same city. Anyhoo, the season of much frustration for the Trojans has a chance to be salvaged in some part in this one. Plus, Lane Kiffin needs a good showing, and when he needs a good showing, he players normally deliver a good showing. Anyone want a little side action on USC coming out in tricked up uniforms? We hope not but this has that kind of feel, no?
Oklahoma minus-10 at West Virginia: Goodness gracious, were we wrong about this Mountaineer bunch. Five weeks into the year, a 5-0 WVU club was the buzz of football and quarterback Geno Smith was a Heisman frontrunner. Four consecutive losses later and this underdog has fleas. Did you know (research alert here; don' get spoiled) that WVU is 2-4 in Big 12 games and has allowed an average of 51 points per conference game? FIFTY-ONE flippin' points. Somewhere even Sal Sunseri - SAAALLLLL!!! - is saying, "Dang, that's a bad defense."
As for the plus one game, well, since there are not any lines on the SEC-FCS squabbles - and really what would the Alabama-Western Carolina spread be, 50? - we're going to put our unbeaten Thursday night streak on the line. No, not the Virginia-UNC game, that's fool's gold. We'll take Kansas minus-28 against UTC in hoops. Hey, entertainment is entertainment, gang.
If we must make a football pick, we'll take Ohio State plus-3 at Wisconsin: Buy the half of course. Some times, picking is as simple as, do you trust Braxton Miller or Curt Phillips more? There you go.
Vols receivers impress the guru
As our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown shared with every today, Vols receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter are good at tackle football. That fact has not escaped the watchful eyes of NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. Here's Downtown's story about Patterson and Hunter's draft stock http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/nov/15/two-vols-receivers-have-nfls-attention/.
Kiper participated in a conference call with us media types Wednesday and was gushing in his praise for the duo, saying that Patterson is a mid-first-round guy and Hunter is likely a second-round pick, which impressed Kiper because it's so soon after last year's knee injury.
In all likelihood those two cats have to leave. Period. The jury is still out on whether Tyler Bray will declare - Kiper noted as much, saying the only real question was "what will Bray do" - when talking about the Vols passing success. Kiper also noted that there is no surefire quarterback home run this year with the struggles of Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Logan Thomas et al.
We wanted to ask Mel a follow-up question about Bray, because here's what we believe: OK, Bray's stock as a quarterback is not as highly regarded as his talent throwing the football. That makes sense considering his off-the-field stuff and the fact that he's winless against ranked teams. But, if his stock is at a C-to-C-plus level after this year, what is it going to be next year without his top four receiving options (Zach Rogers and Mychal Rivera are seniors; Hunter and Patterson almost assuredly are NFL-bound) and likely a new coaching staff.
OK, we live the draft; you know this. So talking to Mel was enjoyable. And know this: Dude gets ribbed about his hair, and it's a great mane there's no doubt. but he flat-out knows his stuff as well as anyone in the sports media world. Truthfully. We spent an hour listening to the call, and there were reporters on there from college and NFL towns across the country asking things like, "What are the later QB options for the Kansas Chiefs?" (Kiper loves the kid from Syracuse) and "Who are some of the draftable players at Oregon State?" (Kiper likes the Beavers' receiving tandem), and Kiper never missed a step. Dude was money and free-flowing like LL Cool J. And he has a great head of hair.
The baseball awards are trickling in, and there have been few surprises.
The managers of the year - Washington's Davey Johnson and Oakland's Bob Melvin- were kind of expected.
The rookies of the year - Mike Trout was unanimous; Bryce Harper was a narrow decision - were the proper picks too. As were the Cy Youngs, which were handed out to David Price in the AL and R.A. Dickey in the NL.
The MVPs are expected today, and while we understand there is more to the game than stats, we're having a hard time wondering why Miguel Cabrera even has to sweat the announcement.
Cabrera, the Tigers slugging third baseman, won the triple crown. Repeat: He led the American League in homers, RBIs and batting average.
Here are the stats for the two front-runners:
Yet, some alphabet soup kids with slide rules and calculators want to use a complex scale of derivative-based equations and projections of runs prevented value over replacements to say that Trout had a better year.
Hogwash. Trout played a highlight-filled centerfield and had a great year while stealing 49 bases for a team that under achieved.
Cabrera won the triple crown - the first one in baseball in 45 years - while leading his team to the World Series.
We don't care what your equations say, if Miguel Cabrera doesn't win, then the MVP award needs to be changed to the MASH - Most Awesome Sabermetrics Hero - Award.
This and that
- Shout out to our man Downtown Patrick Brown's Memphis Grizzlies, who thumped the Thunder after beating the Heat. Are we ready for a world where the Memphis Grizzlies are the No. 1 seed in the West? Maybe. But we're certainly not ready for the smack talk that would come from Downtown if that development became a reality.
- Apparently, now even the phone calls have stopped between the NHL and the players union. Deboman, our resident hockey guy, cover your eyes: Memo to the NHL, you're on the fringe of relevancy to begin with, and if you are going to let season ticket holders start doing other things with their money, well, you're going to be surprised how quickly they forget about you. Want to know something else: You guys stink for all the jobs of the everyday folks - from the media folks that cover you to the people work the arenas to the fringe outfits around the games - you put in jeopardy. OK< Debo, it's safe to look again.
- America's richest football coach? Saban? Bellichick? Mack Brown? Nope, it's Coastal Carolina first-year coach Joe Moglia. Sure his salary is fractional of those other guys and the names you thought of, but Moglia is back in coaching after leaving the profession in the early 1980s. Moglia left college coaching to make more more money on Wall Street - he earned more than $1 billion during a financial career that took him to the CEO office of TD Ameritrade - before returning to the sideline.
Not sure what has happened with the crazy interwebs, but let's try this again:
We're going quick answer today, and remember Friday's mailbag:
If you were Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter or Tyler Bray, would you come back?
Who has the better name: Cordarrelle Patterson or Barkevious Mingo?
Do you miss hockek? Even a little bit?
If Auburn's offense took the field against UT's defense, what would happen and how ugly would it be?
What non-cuss word should we sneak into conversation on our weekly appearance on Chris Goforth's show at 2 p.m. today on 1370 AM?
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 ...