published Thursday, November 14th, 2013

5-at-10: Fab 4-plus-1 picks, SEC to watch, best SEC players ever

Gang, remember Friday's mailbag. There's a lot in there, but we always have room for one more good one. Whatcha' got?

From the "Talks too much" studios, believe in the best and it's best to believe.

Fab 4-plus-1 picks

As always these college football guesstimates are for entertainment only. That said, there comes a time that every entertainment picker starts to doubt his or her picks. Which pick do you like better? Which pick do you like best?

Consistency can be tricky when pressure and pay-offs can be in play.

Still, try to enjoy the ride — like the Scream Machine at Six Flags or whatever the coaster is at Lake Winnie.

So where do we stand? After doubling our picks last week and going 6-4, we are still hovering around the 60 percent mark, a number that is good and should consistently bank entertainment. But a number we were hoping to exceed for the third consecutive year.

That said, know this: Picking gets harder in November. Period. The guys that are making a living setting numbers to confound everyday entertainment jockeys are comfortable with two things: a) They are comfortable with the skills and expectations of the college football teams, and b) they are comfortable with the levels and thresholds at which to push the spreads to make you think about each game. Good times.

  • photo
    Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy, left, looks for a receiver as he is pressured by Tennessee defensive lineman Jacques Smith (55) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

We're going with a lucky seven this week. Enjoy. And good luck.

South Carolina minus-13.5 over Florida: Sweet buckets, how bad is the Florida offense, which may have to take the field without backup-turned-starting-QB Tyler Murphy? Here's how bad? The over/under on this game is 41. The last time Steve Spurrier was involved in a game with a total that low, he was calling plays with rocks and bottle caps back in Johnson City.

Central Florida minus-16.5 over Temple: The Knights are eyeing a BCS bowl game, and have one of the nation's most balanced offenses. Temple is Temple, and it along with UConn are worst teams in the American Athletic Conference. When the best team in a conference plays the worst team in its conference, laying less than three TDs seems like a nice price.

Boise State minus-21 over Wyoming: Buy the half to be safe. And yes we buy the half on all round numbers like 3, 7, 10, etc. The Cowboys were smoked last week by superior talent. Boise has superior talent. Two plus two = at least 21, whether you buy the half or not.

Vandy minus-12.5 over Kentucky: The Wildcats play hard. The Commodores play well. Effort is good. Success is better. That's four consecutive sentences with four words or less. See Vandy run. And score. We love Dr. Suess. We love lamp.

UCLA minus-2.5 over Washington: UCLA is not as good as Oregon and Stanford. There's no crime in that. Few teams are as good as those national powerhouses. That said, UCLA is better than everyone else in the Pac-12, so looking for them to win at home seems like an excellent entertainment investment. This game is Friday night, and hey, get the weekend started with a little entertainment to bank on right?

SMU minus-14 over UConn: Buy the half of course and sit back. UConn is bagel-and-8 this year and 2-6 against the number. A long trip to face a former five-star QB and an SMU offense that can score. Good times.

Arizona minus 12.5 over Washington State: The Wildcats are sneaky good. Mike Leach and Co. are sneaky bad in back half of the year. So we obviously are sneaky attracted to this one. Pretty sneaky sis. (Side note: Connect Four is supremely underrated in the history of games.)

Akron minus-7 over UMass: Buy the half. And ignore the fact we're backing Terry Bowden because that fact is more than erased by the fact we're going against the UMass Minutemen, who are about 58 seconds short of a full load.

Last week against the spread: 6-4

Season against the spread: 35-24-1 (59.3 percent)

————

5 SEC things to watch

1) Auburn-Georgia, let's get it on

Every Auburn fan is scared silly of this one. Seriously. They know Aaron Murray has torched Auburn like few others, throwing for 10 TDs in three games against the Tigers. They know that the potential panacea that could be a winner-take-all Iron Bowl hinges on this game. They know that Todd Gurley is back, and a healthy Todd Gurley gives these Dawgs some bite. They also know that defensively, Auburn still has holes. That said, Johnny Tigers Fan knows that Gus Malzahn will run it, run it, run it, like few others, and Georgia's defense also has holes. Would anyone be surprised to see this game in the high-30s or even into the 40s? Nope, didn't think so.

2) South Carolina delivers body blow

Is there a more puzzling loss this season in the SEC than the Gamecocks losing in Knoxville? Seriously, do you think Steve Spurrier wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, sits straight up in bed and screams, "MARRRRquez NOORRRth," twice a week? And does he say it like Jerry Seinfeld would say "Newman" or how UT fans screamed "SAAALLLLL!!!" last year? South Carolina still has a shot at the SEC East, but the Gamecocks need help. That starts by helping themselves Saturday against Florida, which is considering swapping its trademark Gator head for the red cross logo that would accurately depict the walking M*ASH unit that is this Florida team. That said, injuries will get Will Muschamp another swing next fall, but anything short of eight-plus wins next year will be putting his career health into the crosshairs.

3) Vandy = juggernaut

The last time Vandy was on this kind of roll, it was Math Bowl season. Seriously, War Smart Guys. Vandy is a two-touchdown favorite this week against Kentucky and a win means bowling. Duke is 7-2 and in the hunt for its division in the ACC. Stanford is No. 4 in the BCS. Man, those kids are smart AND good at football. Well, here's saying they have nothing on the rest of us when it comes to video games, drinking Co-Colas or quoting a slew of 80s movies. Take that smartie pants. Sorry. Mr. Smarty Pants.

4) Tennessee fans relax

Enjoy the day, Johnny Vols Fans. After a run against ranked foes that ranged from near-upset (Georgia) to elation (win over South Carolina) to a three-peat of beatdowns (would that be a three-beat?) against Alabama, Missouri and Auburn, the last six weeks have been an emotional roller coaster that has nadired. The team needs a week off. The coaches need a week off. Heck, the fans needs a week off to regroup and watch some stress-free college football. Good times.

5) Will Alabama be Alabama

After last week's emotional, second-half masterpiece that dismantled LSU, the Tide could be expected to have a little bit of a letdown against an overmatched Mississippi State team. That said, this Alabama team is anything but normal. Still, going to Starkville and playing a night game before a crowd craving more cowbell does not measure to the grand stakes and the bright lights with which this bunch has become accustomed. Plus, we believe the Tide defense has spent as much time this week practicing for Gus Malzahn's offense as it has preparing for the Bulldogs. More cowbell indeed. Side question: Who starts next year on a hotter seat, Florida's Will Muschamp or Mississippi State's Dan Mullen?

—————

Titans test

Locally, our NFL interests have been quashed. The Falcons stink. The Titans are limited. So it goes.

That said, we look to this Thursday night Titans-Colts game with an interest on the future of the NFL. Andrew Luck, the time is yours. The AFC South is there for the taking, and moving forward into the elite circle of NFL QBs is part individual brilliance and part perennial playoff participant. That is just the way the model is shaped, fairly or not.

So Luck stands at the cusp looking in at the Brees, Brady, Manning and Rodgers Rushmore of Current QB excellence. And that's OK — this is Luck's second year, after all — but the steps into the Rushmore arena are made with winning games you're supposed to win.

Luck and the Colts should win tonight at Tennessee. That's how the hierarchy is scaled.

So we'll watch tonight wanting to see if Luck's time is here or if he is still taking the slow walk toward his spot among the greats. The process seems inevitable, but the pace is still undetermined.

—————

This and that

— There are a few names moving to the front of the Heisman race, be them Jameis Winston or Johnny Football. Here's another one: Jordan Lynch, the Northern Illinois QB who has led the Huskies to a 10-0 mark after Wednesday night's gambler's dream 48-27 win that covered the 10-point line and the over with three NIU TDs in the final five minutes (including a over-pushing 50-yard inteception return in the final minute). Lynch threw for 345 yards Wednesday and ran for 123 more, accounting for four TDs. Lynch is completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 2,216 yards with 21 TDs. He's rushed for 1,273 yards and 14 TDs. Good stuff, and has his team headed for a BCS bowl game.

— Speaking of Jameis Winston, the super-talented FSU quarterback that has the super-cool nickname Famous Jameis, well, his name appeared on the ESPN ticker for the wrong reasons. Winston is now linked to a sexual assault claim from last year. It is very early and we reserve all comment other than stating the very basics.

— Baylor has secured Art Briles to a 10-year extension that the Dallas Morning News has valued at roughly $4 million per. Interesting scenario here. Briles obviously has done an amazing job, lifting Baylor from drummed to drummer and giving them a national relevance. You understand wanting to ink Briles to a deal that keeps the big fish (Hi, Texas) from swooping in and plucking him. But Briles is 58, so that's a concern. And coaching years is almost like dog years, so 10 years is like 70. Doesn't it feel like Mark Richt coached Herschel.

—————

Today's question(s)

From the top, and it's Thursday and a slew of crazy stuff comes around on Thursday.

Who is cooler, Ty Webb or Crash Davis?

Let's say your favorite SEC team was starting from scratch and you got to draft one player from SEC history around which to build for next year, who do you take? And is Johnny Football in that conversation?

If you had to pick one snack for life, what's your choice?

Discuss and we're open for any all, all day. Discuss.

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.
JonathanMCook said...

"SMU minus-14 over UConn: Buy the half of course and sit back. UConn is bagel-and-8 this year and 2-6 against the number. A long trip to face a former five-star QB and an SMU offense that can score. Good times. This game is Friday night, and hey, get the weekend started with a little entertainment to bank on right?"

EEEENNNNNNGGGGGGG!!! ::SFX wrong answer buzzer::

That game down the road from me but kickoff is actually Saturday at 2:00 PM (Same time as Mocs/Samford). Checked both Google and the SMU football site.

Enjoyed Weeds column this morning but not buying into the whole community bandwagon speal. Where was everyone when I was watching the Trey and the entire northside was COMPLETELY empty when the two commentators were doing the opening broadcast? Exactly

Also, how does Jacques McClendon get word about the goings on at 615 McCallie Avenue? I never even imagined him to have any indication of that. Oh well.

November 14, 2013 at 10:18 a.m.
chas9 said...

Rocks and bottlecaps? Nadired? Take the rest of the week off.

The answer is Muschamp has a sense of urgency.

November 14, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
fechancellor said...

As a Tennessee fan the pick is.....wait a damn minute. The monimees are just some of the cream in the SEC.

Hershel, Bo, Big John Hannah, Joe Namath, Steve Spurrier, Johnny Majors, Al Wilson, Cam Newton, Doug Atkins???

Payton Manning will always be the #1 pick in Knoxville.

November 14, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
MocTastic said...

First round pick....have to be ....Peyton Manning. First running back off the board would be Bo Jackson over Herschel Walker. First D Lineman? Reggie White. First O lineman? John Hannah.

Interesting in the Chattanooga ties here. Peyton has a home in Ooltewah Harrison area, Reggie is from Chattanooga and Hannah played some at Baylor.

November 14, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Cheez-its. Followed by Little Debbie Swiss cake rolls.

With Peyton, Tebow, Cornelius Bennett, Derriick Thomas, Emmitt Smith, some guy named Herschel, I don't know that I pick Johnny Cashfilled Football first.

Thoughts on Tech-Clemson, 5?

November 14, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Mr BI Spy the 4th:

I am interested in YOUR thoughts on Tech-Clemson. I went to see the Jackets play at Clemson once. Sat so high my nose bled. Nice people though. Auburn with a lake.

Billy-In-Brainerd

November 14, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Great start gang.

And did JMC really pull the Family Feud XXXXXXX?

Wow. And it has been fixed. (The UCLA game is Friday; not sure how that got flipped)

Love the Family Feud. Richard Dawson is the Stan Musial of TV comedians.

Be back in a few.

And FE to the C — We'd draft Cam Newton way, Way, WAY before we'd take Peyton in today's college football. Heck, we'd most likely take Johnny Football before we'd take Peyton (ducking and putting on a flak jacket).

And as much as we love Bo — our next dog will be named Jackson — you have to take Herschel before Mr. Jackson. Say it with us — Herschel finished his career 18-0 in SEC games. Let that stat simmer.

November 14, 2013 at 11:19 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JG, I took Bo over Herschel discounting his injury and honestly I was not picking an SEC team, but an NFL team. I prefer a healthy Bo over Herschel or Emmett. I was thinking an NFL team with each player at his prime, non injured, for one season, a true dream team. Going to say my backup QB would be Joe Namath to Peyton. I might even prefer Namath to Peyton, couldn't go wrong with either.

November 14, 2013 at 11:25 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: I would start with Herschel. If I did not it would be like the unpardonable sin. For his fullback I would take William Andrews. I know he did not get the ink that Brooks and Cribbs got but he was a great palyer. (Bet you didn't know I knew that much about AU football.) I liked Sullivan and Beasly back in the day. Quarterback would be Cam.

Looking forward to the UGA-AU game Saturday. I believe it will be high scoring. Georgia should get Conley back for this one.

November 14, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

As far as NFL careers, no doubt Peyton is the pick. He'll be the best NFL player from the SEC ever. He or Reggie.

But if you had to pick one player for your college team next season, it has to be Cam in our eyes. Of course those eyes are shaded with blue and orange sunglasses.

It's Bo and Herschell over everyone else at running back, and it's not that close.

The defensive pick is not unlike the QB debate. Reggie was the best pro by far, but Derrick Thomas was an absolute wrecking ball (Hi, Miley Cyrus) at Alabama.

November 14, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Dawg747 —

We're looking forward to the AU-UGa game too. In fact the Mrs. 5-at-10 is a UGa alum, so we follow the Bulldogs fortunes quite closely — both professional and personally.

That said, there is no 'House Divide' at the 5-at-10 compound. We made a deal that we'd have more than one tot if we could raise them Auburn fans. One of those win-win deals.

And speaking of SEC QBs, how bad is Aaron Murray's timing. Dude has dwarfed Peyton Manning's numbers but his career has intersected with at least two Heisman winners (Newton and Manziel) at his same position in the same conference and Bama's and McCarron's historic run.

We're going to look back in five years and say, "Man, Aaron Murray was pretty dang good."

November 14, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.
dawg747 said...

I know Murray will be short changed. The guy was great in high school and great in college. If given the chance i believe he will make a great pro QB. I believe he will have a high side in the Pros similar to Stafford just maybe not as strong of an arm. You are a blessed man to have a woman from UGA!

November 14, 2013 at 12:03 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Billy in Brainerd,

Tech has to force a turnover or two and make them count, i.e., get points off them, and can't afford to turn the ball over. This might be a game where if PJ wins the coin toss he elects to take the ball rather than defer and then go on a long, long drive. Clemson's offense can't score if it ain't got the ball. Tech can win this game. They're playing better defensively and the offense can move the ball and score. Their margin for error, however, is scant.

November 14, 2013 at 12:20 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

No doubt, the margin for error is very scant.

Here's the things we believe about this one:

Homefield on a weekday night game is worth 7 points (up from the normal 3) in our view. Edge Clemson.

There is a desperate coach and a Dabo. Edge Ga. Tech.

Tech looks predictable, but PJ is anything but. Edge Ga Tech.

Mr. Sammy Watkins is good for at least one 50-yard-plus TD, which is doubly dangerous for a Tech team that is going to have to work hard for everything it gets. Edge Clemson twice over.

If Tech forces turnovers anything can happen.

Don't like the game from an entertainment wagering standpoint because this feels like Clemson by a TD and the line is -10.5.

Should be fun to watch, though, because this game is almost always fun to watch.

November 14, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

Most underrated rivalry in college football? Georgia Tech-Clemson. I learned long ago to never make a pick in this game, because it's going to be wrong. Pick Georgia Tech to win close, Clemson wins in a blowout. Pick Clemson to win in a blowout, Georgia Tech wins close. You get the idea. It's one of the more entertaining games each year. I really try to make this game appointment television every year, regardless of record, because something crazy is bound to happen.

November 14, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
chas9 said...

MT--Like your linemen, but Fiver is right. Gotta take Herschel over Bo.

Spy, it's hard for me to take Timmy T after his pro flop, but he did have a great college run.

Based on college play, Timmy Couch was tough, and if we're allowed prehistoric picks, Blanda was a triple threat.

No love for Pat Sullivan? Jay?

November 14, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

You know, during the course of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry on five different occasions the game has ended in a 0-0 tie. That being said, I don't think anyone would be surprised to see seventy points on the board at the end of the day Saturday. Auburn is doing their thing and doing it well. Georgia's defense has been better against the run than the pass. Of course given our performance against the pass this season, that is setting the bar pretty low. Offensively, we are one-piece-at-a-time getting guys back in place. Dawg 747 mentioned the likely return of Chris Conley. Todd Gurley should be getting back into form and Michael Bennett has looked good in his return. If we plan ahead and bring plenty of cortisone, duct tape and bailing wire we just might have enough to keep the offensive unit together for sixty-minutes of football. I'm not pessimistic about our chances Saturday, but my optimism has a very cautious flavor to it.

Paschall picked Auburn to win Saturday. That leaves Webb Wright's possum as area Georgia fans last shot to pick up an upset pick from the region's high-profile prognosticators.

For the historical SEC Draft, of course I am going Herschel all the way. Herschel ate lightning and crapped thunder. We all know this. However, Vince Dooley called Cam Newton's run in 2010 the most dominant single-season performance he has ever witnessed. This is coming from Herschel's college coach. That's something to think about.

I think the name of the roller coaster at Lake Winnie is the Cannonball. And all that stuff about snakes biting people's eyes out in the boat chute tunnel is just the result of some goofy kids trying to scare their younger siblings.

November 14, 2013 at 3:18 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, you do realize Vandy is 5-4, and three of those wins came against Austin Peay, UMass and UAB? Yes, they have wins over a decrepit Florida and an injury-riddled and shoddy defense-riddled Georgia. They had a 4-point loss in the opener to Ole Miss, but their other three losses have come by an aggregate of more than 60 points. I don't think they qualify as a juggernaut.

November 14, 2013 at 4:36 p.m.
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July 22, 2014 at 8:11 a.m.
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