published Monday, January 6th, 2014

5-at-10: BCS title predictions, Strong hire, NFL takeaways and cold weather football rocks

It's go time.

Let's do work.

From the "Talks too much" studios, stay warm and hydrated, it's going to be a full day.

BCS title game

The BCS ends its run with Auburn and Florida State playing for the title tonight in Pasadena. It's the nation's best team against the nation's most determined team. Let's compare.

FSU has not trailed since September. Auburn trailed in the third quarter of the SEC title game.

FSU has the Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and an offense filled with future NFL players. Auburn has a converted defensive back taking snaps and a future NFL star at left tackle.

FSU has a defense loaded with former five-star guys and has allowed more than 14 points twice in 13 games this season. Auburn has a stout and young defensive front and has held only three of its 13 opponents — Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina, and Arkansas State — to less than 14 points.

This appears to be a as one-sided as MIT vs. DeVry math off.

So who are we picking? Auburn of course, and here's why.

Auburn leads the nation in rushing, using a mixture of speed and power and spacing like no team in the country. The Tigers ran for 296 yards against an Alabama defense that was No. 1 in the country. The Tigers ran for 545 yards in the SEC title game against a Missouri team that entered the Georgia Dome ranked No. 2 in the SEC against the run.

FSU has a slew of talented defensive players — linebackers Terrance and Telvin Smith are legit and defensive ends Mario Edwards and Christian Jones will be NFL studs — that present the tallest hurdle the Tigers have faced. The Seminoles also had five weeks to get ready — a blessing when preparing for misdirection offense like Gus Malzahn's masterpiece.

That said, there is no way to simulate the fourth-quarter pressure that has forged these Tigers. This figures to be a relatively tight game, something FSU has not seen this year and something Auburn has faced and foiled almost on a weekly basis.

FSU has a lot of advantages, but coaching and toughness in the moment are not among them. Auburn, in addition to Malzahn, also has Dameyune Craig on staff, and where did Craig spend the previous three seasons before coming to Auburn? Yep, as the FSU quarterbacks coach.

As for the mental toughness, this is not saying FSU is not mentally tough. We simply don't know how they will respond with the game on the line needing to convert a third-and-6 or needing a stop on third-and-3. We know exactly how Auburn responds in those scenarios, it has played out time and again with a wild array of craziness that has been different every weekly but same in overall meaning — Auburn finds a way.

FSU has crushed everyone in its path. Auburn has refused to lose.

FSU certainly could continue its march and roll tonight. Auburn may simply be out of tricks.

But we think — no scratch that... — we believe there is enough magic left in this mystical trip. Auburn 41, FSU 37.

————

Strong hire

Texas landed former Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who has authored 11-2 and 12-1 records the last two seasons.

Side note: And for those of you who wonder how big a job Texas is, know this: A vast majority of Tennessee fans wanted Strong last year and he could not be lured. A sizable chunk of Texas fans are underwhelmed by Strong (a mistake in our mind, dude will win big at Texas) and there was no way Strong could say no to the Longhorns.

There also are still five NFL gigs open with the Lions, Redskins, Browns, Vikings and Titans looking for coaches. The Titans dismissed Mike Munchak on Saturday after he reportedly would not trim some of his staff. Whatever.

There are still big-boy college football jobs open as Penn State and Louisville look to fill spots opened when their coaches left for greener paychecks.

We have some questions about this below, but we believe Charlie Strong to be very good at what he does. We also believe that if we were the ADs at Penn State or Louisville, we'd make James Franklin say no twice. Franklin just posted back-to-back nine-win seasons at Vandy for crying out loud.

————

NFL playoffs

What did the first-round of the NFL playoffs teach us?

Here are five takeaways:

1) Andrew Luck is not on the Rushmore of the game's elite QBs, but he's dang close. Dang close. In fact, here's saying there's not a player in the NFL for which the Colts would deal Luck.

1b) How long will it take Chiefs fans to get over that implosion? Wow.

2) The 49ers are crazy talented. Every time you looked up Sunday when the 49ers beat Green Bay, there was a former first-round pick making a play. Wow, that's a great roster from top-to-bottom.

3) Is there a better coach-quarterback combo in the NFL than Sean Payton and Drew Brees? Yes, Belichick and Brady have more rings and are headed to the Hall, but the connection between the Patriots great is more of an association. Hoodie handles the defense and the roster; Brady handles the offense and makes forgettable possession receivers look like Pro Bowlers. Payton and Brees, however, have a bond.

4) Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis will enter next season with a monstrous postseason question mark looming over their heads.

5) Cold weather football is pretty boss.

————

This and that

— Fab 4-plus-1 bowl picks update: We entered the weekend at 17-15 in the postseason and found a nice stride, going 5-2 this weekend, hitting on Missouri and Vandy and the over in the Cotton, Orange and BBVA Compass bowls. We missed THE Ohio State (stupid Clemson) and Ball State last night to improve to 22-17 heading into tonight.

— A slew of guys have declared for the NFL draft. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles announced his intention on Sunday and he could be in the mix for the top overall pick, which seems crazy to us. (Side note: An analyst on NFL.com compares Bortles to Titans QB Jake Locker, and we're pretty sure it was meant as a compliment. Still, if you are drawing comparisons to the Hurt Locker, there's no way we'd spend the No. 1 overall pick on you, no matter how hot his girlfriend is.)

  • photo
    Jadeveon Clowney
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

— Here's a list of the big-time guys who have decided to enter the draft: Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas, Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, THE Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier, USC WR Marqise Lee, Texas A&M WR MIke Evans, LSU DTs Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson. The names we're still waiting on include Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel and Auburn OT Greg Robinson.

— San Diego State went to Kansas and won. What does this tell us? That anyone is beatable and that teams with a little maturity have a puncher's chance against the uber-talented young guns of the college basketball realm.

— Swear buckets of real estate cliches, we were doing our morning reading and saw that SNL cast member Seth Meyers bought a 994-square foot apartment in NYC's swanky West Village for the staggering number of $3.5 million. Wowser, talk about location, location, location. Man that's more than $3,500 a foot. We need to sit down.

————

Today's question

Have at it gang. Ton to discuss.

Who you got tonight?

Who do you want the Titans to hire?

(For chas9 and others) Do we know anything about college hoops yet? Well other than UNC is scratch-off lottery-ticket unpredictable?

Bring it.

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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jomo11 said...

You got to love having Auburn fans in L.A. aka Tinsel Town. . .wonder how many went to tour where they filmed "Dukes of Hazard" ?. . . .Im sure they were shocked that there are no Waffle Houses in Hollywood. . .And can you imagine the look on the face of a 5'11" blonde super model when Billy Joe Auburn fan yells "War Eagle" at her ? . . . .good times

January 6, 2014 at 10:06 a.m.
jomo11 said...

The Strong hire at Texas is intersting. The word is The Texas coach has to shmooze with millionaire boosters and do alot of interviews and apperances on the Longhorn Network . . 2 things that Charlie Strong doesn't like to do. . .however at $5 million a year he may learn to like it

January 6, 2014 at 10:09 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

No offense, 5, but I'm still leaning toward FSU. Folks can decry their schedule all they want but when they needed to show they could take someone behind the woodshed - Miami, Clemson, Duke in the ACCCG - they did just that and then some. Now, I'm not predicting something similar for tonight and even if the Noles get off to a slow start, it's not the end of the world. They didn't exactly set come out blazing to start a couple of their big games.

But they have speed on defense and they can throw it to a number of a receivers and they can run when they need to. Plus, they have a solid kicking game. I think FSU's defense can put up a stop or two and I'm just not sure Auburn's defense can do the same against FSU's offense when needed.

January 6, 2014 at 10:10 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

5- like your score. My firt thought was AU 45 FSU 42. OF couse the low scoring in 2010 surprised me. I too think Auburn as one more magic finish left.

RE Bortles - these GM & HC's need to remember Ryan Leaf looked the part too.

January 6, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.
chas9 said...

Heart says Auburn. Head says Semiholes.

Strong can coach. Question is can he handle the vital off-field chores?

Some of you (Jay) may think today is all about football. Nope.

A report on Saturday's Tennessee trouncing Tusculum led with the claim that The Vols are really rolling with three straight wins. Not so much.

It ought to be forbidden that a good team (aspiring to be a really good team) plays a tiny school like tiny Tusculum, enrollment 2500. They play in the lowly South Atlantic league, which doesn't even get a tournament bid. They stand 1-11 for the season.

So who knows what stats mean from the game. But, playing almost the same minutes, Barton tallied three (3) assists while Thompson got nine (9). Who's the point guard?

The most interesting fact from the so-called game is that it was officiated by Vladimir Voyard-Tadal. You gonna argue a call with Tadal?

Platinum programs Duke, UNC, Kansas and Kentucky all now have three or four losses. I can't remember a season when that was the case.

Of the super-hyped super freshmen on these squads, I'd say Randle is having the best season. Parker was a no-show in Duke's Saturday loss. Their conquerer, Notre Dame is an impressive passing team, something we don't see enough of.

I's guess that when this week's polls come out, UK will be the highest ranked of the four teams, but it'll be hard for any of them to get a top seed in The Dance.

The only elite team from either the SEC or the ACC is newcomer Syracuse. The Cats may be by March.

January 6, 2014 at 10:24 a.m.
Stewwie said...

It does feel like Texas "settled" with Strong. But still a good hire. Maybe they wanted to land somebody good now instead of holding out for someone better so that they didn't lose time on the recruiting trail?

Two great offenses tonight. But one of those teams has a great D that has had a month to prepare for the one-dimensional offense of the other. This one shouldn't be close. FSU 42, AU 20.

I see that Weeds has pulled a switcharoo on his pick. After initially picking FSU, he was accused of being an Alabama homer by a letter to the editor (lol). Now he's on the Gus Bus for tonight.

January 6, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Tonight live from the Rose Bowl, the #1 Braves of Tallahassee have their Tomahawks honed sharpest anticipating the taking of many scalps early and often from the #2 Auburn Tigers/War Eagles. The Seminoles will find the Auburn Plainsman ready enough with his own designs for victory. While it is true the Seminoles have raised their bow and arrows to the heavens thirteen times this season, questions persist such as the Seminoles quality of scalps taken from the women and children of the ACC. Yes, outstanding wins against #3 Clemson on the road and Miami at home balance this a bit but only a bit. The Plainsman dispatched last year’s Heisman winner, Johnny Football, in a close one in College Station along with down to the wire victories over Georgia, Alabama–not to mention victory in the SEC Titile game over a highly ranked opponent in Missouri. There’s no doubting the talent of the Seminole Braves, however, if this is to be a close contest the Plainsman has the edge, although he will still need to fight like Andrew Jackson. The Smart Pill Machine sezs Chancellor’s loser…

FSU by 3

January 6, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
chas9 said...

Hey, Leonard. Send some of those smart pills to Cleveland.

Didja see the report that every year but one since 2001 the Browns have paid somebody not to coach, totaling $49 million? Guess Tim Couch isn't their biggest letdown. Makes Falcons' management look like geniuses. Look for Flying J/Pilot to raise gas prices. Or cut some more corners.

January 6, 2014 at 11:15 a.m.
fechancellor said...

9er, that's an even better gig than a laid off UAW worker enjoys.

January 6, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay-I'll take AU tonite if for no other reason than I'd like to answer "FSU" to the future trivia question, "Who lost the first and last BCS championship games?" Mailbag query...what do we do til August now?

January 6, 2014 at 12:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FEC to the C —

Man we miss ole Leonard.

Good stuff and props to HM for doing work in San Antonio.

9er —

If the Browns hired Les MIles and fired him next year, the Pilot/Flying J folks could jack prices and we could call the increase Miles per gallon.

sportsfan —

You're in. And we're not sure.

Stewwie —

It's hard not to feel like you settled when they started with Saban and Harbaugh. Still, we agree that Strong is a good hire. But we also agree with the previous comments that he'll have to polish his media presence.

Spy —

No harm, no foul. Someone has to be wrong. Could be you, most likely will be me.

Jomo —

Those cement ponds are pretty fancy.

January 6, 2014 at 1:28 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

On behalf of the Chatty QB Club, we thoroughly enjoyed the Sports Editor + the SEC FB Ace today. Kudos to Club Pres 'jomo11' for landing good speakers every week.

Billy-In-Brainerd

January 6, 2014 at 1:49 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

And Brent Pry, as expected, has executed his own triple option with the Georgia Southern job. He could either go back to Los Boros, follow Franklin to his next gig or put his hat in the ring should Franklin depart Nashvegas. He eschewed the dive for the either the pitch or the keep.

January 6, 2014 at 3:15 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, appearance with TV crew went well today. Did it outside my office because there is no room in my office. It was a little cool outside but I survived. Hope to be on the air later this month.

January 6, 2014 at 3:41 p.m.
choptalker said...

Magic pixie dust in the 4th quarter only matters if it's close. 49-26 Noles.

January 6, 2014 at 4:13 p.m.
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