It;s here. It's happening.
From the "Talks too much" studios, you know what time it is.
The Mocs kick off tonight. Follow TFP UTC football ace Stephen Hargis' in-game coverage here on the website and on Twitter with the hashtag #tfpUTC.
As the season dawns here are our three questions for the Mocs:
What is the realistic expectation for this team?
Your UTC Mocs open a season with more hype and promise than any since Reagan was in the White House.
The stars have aligned and the future is now. This is not a diatribe of 11-0 heading to Alabama like we authored last year. This is one time we are going to (try to) refrain from zingers or snark.
This UTC team should win the Southern Conference and host a playoff game. They have arguably the best offensive player in the conference in Jacob Huesman and arguably the best defensive player in FCS football in Davis Tull. They have a much easier road in the SoCon with App and Georgia Southern moving on to the wide, Wide, WIDE open spaces of Conference Global or wherever they are playing.
Are the B-listers ready?
After Huesman and Tull, the Mocs have talent. That talent will have to deliver as every foe will make someone other than the headliners try to win games. It's of great advantage to have match-up edges Huesman and Tull provide — receivers will get a lot of single coverage; since Tull demands a double team the rest of the defense is going 10-on-9 — but the rest of the Mocs will need to deliver.
We believe they will. We had faith in Keon Williams last year despite a ton of nay-sayers and he delivered so there's no reason not to think he won't be an all-conference-type player again this fall. Defensively, we have little reason to doubt the talent or the plan. Special teams, well, that may be a different matter entirely.
Can this coaching staff deliver driving the pace car?
This is an interesting question. Coach Russ Huesman and Co. have worked miracles restructuring a roster and a program that was among the worst in Division I football before they arrived. Seriously.
The talent comparisons are staggering and so stark that it seems like 20 years ago when Russ wasn't here, you know?
That said, there's a different skill set between rebuilding a roster and taking the step between competitive and championship.
The Mocs coaching staff has delivered on each step — and in some ways they were way ahead of schedule on the project in part because B.J. transferred in — and while some will say last year was a disappointment, you have to remember that winning a share of the conference title has to count for something.
This year, though, the only child in us is coming out. There can't be any sharing. There can't be any shortcomings that do not include hardware and postseason plans.
No matter the situations, the expectations have moved to the next level. So these Mocs do the same.
College picks and prognostications (and SEC five things to watch)
We'll have our BCS stuff in the comments, and you are welcomed to post yours. (Two crazy ones we had last year — Surprise team: Auburn; Overrated team: FSU. Go figure.)
As we do on Thursdays, we'll have 5 SEC things to watch this weekend:
1) Coming out party. There are a ton of talented newcomers. Who will still the show?
2) Auburn's encore. We're pumped to see the Tigers' offensive wrinkles.
3) Todd Gurley. Enough said.
4) Who will take the first snap for Alabama?
5) Are the baby Vols ready for Prime Time Sunday night?
Fab 4 plus 1 picks
Our final prediction of the 2013 college football season was Auburn plus the points and the over. Each hit. Yay. We finished the bowl season 24-17 and 74-57-1 against the number last year. Not too shabby.
Not up to previous seasons — where we went 85-36-2 in 2012 and 52-27-2 in 2011 — but still not too bad. All told in three years picking games against the number we are 211-110-5 (
Two things to remember, these stats are the interweb so they have to be true and all picks are for ENTERTAINMENT purposes only. So take each with a grain of salt.
Ohio State -15 over Navy: The Buckeyes were loaded for a run into the four-team playoff before preseason Heisman candidate Braxton Miller was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. While a title chase may have taken a ding with Miller's injury, the fact that the supremely talented Buckeyes are only giving a smidge over two touchdowns to Navy is crazy.
Ole Miss -9.5 over Boise State: This is the most talented Ole Miss team in a generation. This is a Boise State team with a reworked coaching staff. This has the feel of a 41-17 whipping. You're welcome.
Georgia -6.5 over Clemson: One team lost college football's most explosive playmaker in the man you know better as Joe the Policeman on the 'What's Going Down' episode of "That's My Mama," Mr. Sammy Watkins. The other team has arguably college football's most explosive playmaker. This game is in Athens and it may be close, but we like the Bulldogs. A lot.
Tennessee -6.5 over Utah State: Should UT be worried? Yes. Should UT be worried about Chuckie Keaton? Absolutely. Should UT fans be patient with the youth movement — Butch Jones said as many as 30 true freshmen could play Sunday night? Of course. Still, UT has more talent and more at stake and should be playing in front of a full house. That's good enough for us.
LSU -5 over Wisconsin: The Badgers have pieces back. The Tigers have newcomers. The Badgers have a running back that could win a Heisman. The Tigers have a running back that will win a Heisman. The Badgers have big-time hopes. The Tigers have big-time talent. We prefer talent.
This and that
— The Braves beat the Mets 3-2. Man three whole runs? The Braves must have had a balanced breakfast.
— Josh Gordon, shut your pie hole. Dude, you did it. You got caught. And to issue an apology that includes a sentiment that you are sorry the NFL did not reconsider its judgement is such a lack of self-responsibility that it is laughable.
— It's Honey Boo Boo's birthday. She's 9. That.s 1.28 in dog years. And here's hoping her 15 minutes is up.
We have two items for your interest.
1) Whomever make the craziest college football prediction that turns out to be correct (no more than four entries per, please), we'll give you two tickets to next year's Best of Preps banquet.
2) Jason Priestley turns 45 today. He will forever be Brandon Walsh for a big chunk of the population. Who is on our Rushmore of actors forever known as one character? Go.
And Happy College Football season. And remember the mailbag.
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 ...