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 payoffs 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 who are making a living setting numbers to confound everyday entertainment jockeys are comfortable with two things: the skills and expectations of the college football teams and the levels and thresholds at which to push the spreads to make you think about each game.
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: UCF's Knights are eyeing a BCS bowl game and have one of the nation's most balanced offenses. Temple is Temple, and it and UConn are the 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 numbers like 3, 7, 10, etc. The Cowboys were smoked last week by superior talent. Boise has superior talent. Two plus two equals 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. Seuss. 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 the Bruins to win at home seems like an excellent entertainment investment. This game is tonight, 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 the 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 a juggernaut
The last time Vanderbilt 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 1980s 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 threepeat 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.
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?
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 ...