We're here. It's Thursday. We can see the weekend. We know the stakes. We left Hump Day — Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike — in the rearview and are turning toward the corner of Friday and Co-Colas.
Gang, remember Friday's mailbag and enjoy the day.
From the "Talks too much" studios, be the ball Danny.
Auburn-Florida Atlantic over 51: OK, here's our number crunching for the week. We know that Auburn rushes for more than 300 yards per game, which is good, and tries to have 80-plus offensive plays a game, which is especially good for entertainment-wagers who like the over. We also know that Florida Atlantic is a 24-point underdog that os 2-5 overall but an amazing 6-1 against the spread this year. Go figure, right? So if trends continue, for the Owls to cover the 24-point spread, for this game to go over, all you need from the Tigers is 37 points.
Missouri minus-2.5 over South Carolina: Maybe this is the week that the Tigers wake up. Maybe this is the week that Steve Spurrier starts acting like Steve Spurrier again. Maybe this is the week that Jadeveon Clowney has a "My goodness, did you see that" moment. Maybe this is the week Mike Davis gets the recognition his work-horse type season has merited. Or maybe this is the week that we finally realize that Missouri is pretty dang good and the Tigers' closest game was a 15-point win at Georgia. Did we mention that USC quarterback Connor Shaw is not going to start because of injury?
Baylor-Kansas over the 66: Texas Tech put 54 on Kansas in Lawrence. This just in: Baylor's offense is pretty potent. The only reason this one gives us pause is the "if a line looks too good to be true, it normally is" postulate that is one of entertainment-risking rules. But hey, it's a rule not a law. And like Fletch says, there has been a lot of changes in the law.
We will post the other two shortly. Man we were running behind this morning. We are debating between the following:
Buffalo minus-2 over Kent State:
San Jose State minus 6.5 over Wyoming:
Vandy plus-18 at Texas A&M:
And several others... Any thoughts?
Five SEC things to watch
How do the Vols handle success? Tennessee fans have been walking around with their chests puffed out and their heads held high, and with good reason after last week's thrilling 23-21 win over South Carolina. (And if you rewatched it on one of the replays this week, well, you are not alone.) It was UT's first win over a ranked foe since East Tennessee viewed Lane Kiffin as a prince rather than a punk. So it goes. Now, how does the Butch-mobile and the Tennessee players handle a week of smiles with an afternoon of hurdles on the horizon. And we'll ask you this, should Butch play this one close to the vest, limiting possessions and big plays looking for a chance late rather than standing toe-to-toe with college football's version of pre-Robin Givens Mike Tyson? Is playing for a chance late, knowing that chance is small considering the machine that is the Crimson Tide, wise or waving the white flag? On the flip side, do you go to a gun fight when your trigger man is, by comparison, wielding a butter knife? Lots of questions and not sure Saturday is going to deliver a slew of answers considering the divide in talent between the current teams. We do know this: This game is way more interesting this morning than it was last month or at any point in the last three years, and that is significant step for Butch Jones and the brick-by-brick battalion.
How does Alabama handle the Vols success? Alabama is a 28-point favorite over Tennessee. If that seems like a lot, well, it is. Remember last week when we said that Alabama punishes teams that are one dimensional before laying four TDs against a pass-challenged Arkansas bunch? Well, after a 52-0 pasting in which Arkansas passed for 90 yards against the Tide, the Razorbacks are 114th nationally in passing yards per game. Tennessee is 109th. Remember too how we mentioned that Alabama coach Nick Saban seldom covers big spreads against overmatched foes but has been a steamroller against conference foes, especially ones against which he may recruit? We think Nick may have noticed Butch Jones' top-five national recruiting class and has every intention on sending a message that building brick-by-brick is fine, but the penthouse in Tuscaloosa has already been mortared. Finally, remember that crazy thing called the BCS, and how voters look for weird trends to rank the elite in the sport. Well, Tennessee is going to be a pretty fair litmus test considering that after this weekend, the Vols will have played road games at No. 1 Alabama and at No. 3 Oregon. Think Nick the Quick will try to match Ducks' 59-14 whipping of UT last month?
How does Auburn deal with a whirlwind week: One big win can change anything. It can erase a historically bad 2012. It can recalibrate goals? It can alter the timeframe of a rebuilding project. Conversely one rotten loss can do the exact same. Auburn catapulted to No. 11 in the AP poll with last week's 45-41 win at Texas A&M. It could plummet if it does not handle its BID-ness against an overmatched Owls team. One game can change everything, and that friends is the beauty of college football's glorious regular season. It's the marathon that is a weekly sprint. And now with hurdles.
Can the Gamecocks rebound?
Missouri for all intents and purposes could win the East on Saturday. Read that sentence again. Missouri... clinching the East... in October. A win over a banged up and beat down South Carolina, which was topped by Tennessee last week, would give the Tigers a two-game lead with tie-breaker edges over Georgia, Florida and the Gamecocks. Wow. That said, it's hard to see a Steve Spurrier team going down without a fight. Well, unless as has been whispered in some circles that Spurrier may be ready to exit stage left. This could be a very educational game in the ledger and for a legend.
Can Vandy deal Texas A&M its third home loss
Freshman Patton Robinette will make his first start for the Commodores this weekend as Vandy heads to College Station. Here's the good news for young master Robinette: all-world wide receiver Jordan Matthews will make the trip with him. Here's some more good news for the Commodores: the Aggies have played four SEC games and have allowed an average of 41.3 points per game. And one of those was against offensively anemic Arkansas. Here's the hurdle for the freshman QB with an all-country club nickname (think you'd could pick out a 'Patton Robinette' and a 'Barkevious Mingo' in a photo of two football dudes?): Johnny Football and the Aggies are going to score. Period. Are you ready to score with them?
We have tried to get some feedback and some input from you Mocs faithful on Saturday's tilt against The Citadel, or El Cid as they are know to our Mexican-American brothers and sisters.
El Cid is tough. They fight. They seldom beat themselves.
Great. The Mocs are better and need this. This is not a circled game, not a Georgia Southern or a Wofford or even this year a Samford.
But this is a game that makes the circled game special. In some ways that makes it tougher for the Mocs and especially the Mocs coaches. UTC should win, and everyone involved, including El Cid knows it. Handling the should win moments is a distinct and markable moment in a program's growth.
And please know this is a should-win moment, not a should-cruise moment. The Mocs have become comfortable in the should-cruise games, which are decided before the end of the third quarter. That's a step too, and a noticeable one for UTC, considering it we not that long ago — pre-Huesman — when the Mocs were the should-cruise opponent for everyone else.
So that step has been cleared. Now, it's time for the next one, handling a should-win game so that you can play those circled opponents in season-swinging games rather than season-saving games.
And yes, we may have set a hyphen record in this entry. All we need is a BenJarvis Green-Ellis reference and maybe a Mia Hamm-Garciaparra and a HaHa Clinton-Dix.
This and that
— Whoa Nelly. The Rams called Brett Favre to see if the 44-year-old grandfather was interested in coming back after the Rams lost starting QB Sam Bradford to an ACL injury. Maybe the call came during dinner, and while on the phone, someone asked Brett to pass the salt. And, with even a hint of return, the salt was intercepted and returned for a TD.
— We found an old-80s CD in the car for the ride home last night. Good times. What ever happened to Men at Work, and which musical continent was the most impressive: groups Asia or Europe or Toto's Africa? Discuss.
— Here's the first movie trailer we've seen for Ron Burgandy's Anchorman 2. There's a real chance this could completely stink. There's a real chance it could be fall down funny. There's a real chance we love lamp. (Do you really love lamp or are you just saying that?) We love lamp.
— Talk about taking Dorothy Mantooth out for a nice seafood dinner and not calling... The Cardinals and Jon Lester managed to suck the drama out of Game 1, huh? The Red Sox scored three quick runs off Adam Wainright on the way to an 8-1 win. Yawn. But, there was some lively Twitter discussion because...
Tim McCarver is brutal. BREW-TALL.
His brutality was in full view during the Red Sox runaway and he started to diverge into interesting topics like the best finger-pressure pitchers of the last generations and his playing days back in the 15-inch mound stone ages.
This led a few of us to discuss who are the worst announcers out there today, or as UTC football beat ace Johnny Frierson puts it, "The most mutable Rushmore."
Discuss. And while you are thinking about it, here's a reminder of the 'Boom goes the dynamite kid,' and if you have never seen this, well then you're welcome. If you haven't seen it in a while, well, you're welcome, too.
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 ...