5-at-10: Slew of college football, including the first round of bowl picks

5-at-10: Slew of college football, including the first round of bowl picks

December 13th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

We'll have a mailbag on Friday, and if you'd like to participate, drop us a line. As Bluto says in "Animal House" - "Don't cost nothing."

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's spread the joy...

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron reacts after an Alabama field goal against Georgia during a Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game in Atlanta.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Bowl Fab 4 picks

For the regulars around these parts, they are well-aware of the Fab 4 (plus 1) picks we make on Thursdays during the college football season.

We pick against the spread and are quick to remind folks these are for entertainment purposes only. And if you have followed along the last two years, we have made a lot of extra entertainment.

We rapped the regular season with a 4-1 mark in the final weekend to finish 51-21-2. By rough calculations, if you had placed 100 entertainments on each pick this season, you'd be roughly 2,670 entertainments to the good after the entertainment commission (wink, wink).

Last year we had mixed success on the bowl games and finished with a better-than-respectable 58-30-2 mark. This year we've been better.

One of the main reasons for our picking success this year was the freedom of choice. We looked for the game that appealed to our keen sense of entertainment opportunity. If that meant the 3:30 SEC game on CBS, then great. If that meant Idaho plus-40 at BYU at 11 p.m., then swell. That's important to remember heading into the postseason, because there are fewer bowl games from which to choose.

Take this weekend, we're making picks, but we're not overly thrilled about them. So why are we doing it? Because we are committed to the entertainment returns of you, dear reader.

So what's on tap this weekend? Well, there are family holiday shindigs and one of the reasons we like to make picks is so when Uncle Craig starts clamoring on about how the Crimson Tide cheated his Georgia Bulldogs with a mouthful of Chex Mix, we can excuse ourself to watch bowl games and politely say, "Yeah, that's a good point. Sorry, we need to watch this for work."

That said, you can feel free to use that one when needed if you play our bowl contest.

Email your picks to us at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com for the following games and point values:

1 pointers (selected because we like the funkiness of the names - 5 max)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)

Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego State (9-3) vs. BYU (7-5)

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl - Ball State (9-3) vs. UCF (9-4)

Fight Hunger Bowl - Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (7-4)

Pinstripe Bowl - Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

2 pointers (because they teams are from the South - 8 max)

New Orleans Bowl - East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (7-4)

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)

Belk Bowl - Duke (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)

Russell Athletic Bowl - Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3)

3 pointers (because these look like tough picks - 15 max)

Las Vegas Bowl - Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)

Hawaii Bowl - SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3)

Alamo Bowl - Texas (8-4) vs. Orgeon State (9-3)

Sun Bowl - Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. Southern Cal (7-5)

Heart of Dallas Bowl - Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)

4 pointers (around the SEC - 32 max)

BBVA Compass Bowl - Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)

Music City Bowl - Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. N.C. State (7-5)

Chick-fil-A Bowl - LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2)

Gator Bowl - Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)

Capital One Bowl - Georgia (11-2) vs. Nebraska (10-3)

Outback Bowl - South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)

Sugar Bowl - Florida (11-1) vs. Louisville (10-2)

Cotton Bowl - Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)

5 pointers (the rest of the BCS - 15 max)

Rose Bowl - Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)

Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2)

Fiesta Bowl - Kansas State (11-1) vs. Oregon (11-1)

10 pointer (duh - 10 max)

BCS National Championship - Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)

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Nebraska vs. UTC in 2011

Photo by Robin Rudd/Times Free Press.

The weekend picks

Picking bowl games is more than analysis and feel. It's more than scouting and studying.

Picking bowl games is centered in football with a minor in psychology. The best picks are the teams in which you know what they are playing for and who they are playing for. In simpler terms, what's their motivation and what's the state of their coaching staff.

Motivation comes in two directions: Is a team like Duke, which has not been to a bowl game since 1994 and has a chance to have a winning season, motivated to work hard regardless of the confusing name of their bowl game? You bet. Is Nebraska a little less than thrilled about a return trip to the Capital One after being favored to go to the Rose and giving up 70 in the Big Ten title game? Makes good sense.

As for coaching defections, this applies to head coaches and coordinators. It also applies to teams that have already made replacement hires. Take Texas Tech for example. The hiring of rising rock star Kliff Kingsbury more than offsets the departure of Tommy Tuberville, considering this gives the younger kids reason to really practice hard for a new head coach.

OK, there are two games Saturday - Nevada-Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl and Toledo-Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Arizona minus-9 over Nevada: We like the fact that Rich Rod likes to score points with an Arizona offense that has been eye-popping at times. We like the fact that Nevada is soooooo cute when they try to tackle. And we like the fact that Nevada has limped into the postseason - a 7-5 record is misleading considering the 6-1 start and the fall to the finish. Side note: The over/under at 73 seems a little high, which means we like the over, too.

Utah State minus-9.5 over Toledo: We like the cut of Utah State's jib. We also like the fact this game is in Idaho, and it's going to be crisp - projected highs in the upper 30s - and Utah State is more comfortable in that setting. Remember, Utah State's two loses this year are to BYU (6-3) and Wisconsin (16-14) and by a total of five points.

There you go.

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University of Tennessee NCAA college football offensive coordinator Jim Chaney

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

This and that (college football)

- AJ McCarron announced that he's coming back for his senior year at Alabama. The 5-at-10 just announced that Alabama will be in the mix for the national title again next year. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

- Jim Chaney landed on his feet. After leading the Vols offense to a big-time year in 2012, Chaney has been hired by Bret Bielema as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. Good hire, and we think Chaney did a very nice job all things considered this year. Working with new RB and OL coaches and a re-positioned WR coach, Chaney's offense was great and bordered on elite. Plus, that success was reached despite losing Da'Rick Rogers, who was thought to be UT's best player, in August. So as good as UT's offense was, it's a little disappointing to think what Chaney and Co. could have done with Tyler Bray in the pocket and and the potential NFL receiving firm of Rogers, Hunter and Patterson running amok through secondaries across the South. And it appears Sam Pittman, who did work with the Vols' offensive line, will be joining Chaney at Arkansas. Nice staff Bielema's building.

- Speaking of building, how about the turn of events that have become the coaching carousel version of musical chairs. Dooley gets axed at UT to be replaced by Butch Jones, who was replaced at Cincy by Tommy Tuberville, who was replaced at Texas Tech by Kliff Kingsbury. And the crazy thing is, each fan base could make an argument that each upgraded.

- Although the stories surrounding Tuberville's exit - he was eating dinner with potential Texas Tech recruits, got a call, excused himself not to return to the meal and was headed to Cincy the next day for the introductory news conference - are quite strange. Wow.

- South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore officially declared for the NFL draft on Wednesday. So did Da'Rick Rogers, the former Calhoun High and UT star receiver who played one trouble-free year at Tennessee Tech. We love the draft - you know this. And let us say right now that if Marcus Lattimore is on the board in round 2 we'd take him. And if Da'Rick is on the board in round 3, we'd take him. Let's say you're the Indy Colts, and you go defensive help in round 1, and then look up and you get the best running back in this class at a discount because of his leg injury and arguably the best receiver physically in this class because he acted like a knucklehead. Thank you and enjoy the continued good (Andrew) Luck.

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Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) hits Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley (14) as Lindley tries to get a pass off during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Atlanta. The ball was hit loose by Abraham and Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux picked up the ball and ran into the end zone for a touchdown. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

This and that (non college football)

- Loved this sign outside a church in Arizona: "No one is beyond God's help - not even the Cardinals."

- Hey, speaking of Cardinals, did you see that a team of the Catholic church's higher-ups and tech-savvy dudes in funny caps helped the Pope launch a Twitter account? Yep, as soon as the 5-at-10 hopped on the Twitter, now everyone is doing it - including the Pope. We were hoping his first Tweet would be: "God Bless everyone, and now that you mention it, yes, this hat is kind of funny."

- Crazy night in the NBA. Suns beat Grizz (sorry Downtown Patrick Brown). Warriors beat Heatles. Thunder escape Hornets/Pelicans in OKC. What does this prove? Not much other than the regular seasons in college and pro basketball are like qualifying for NASCAR races. It may be occasionally interesting, especially if you have skin in the game, but in the end, only the final race/playoffs that count.

- Props to the SportTalk guys last night for a great topic on the best athletes to wear 12 on 12-12-12. Here's our No. 12 Rushmore: Bradshaw, Brady, Stockton and Robbie Alomar. There you go.

- Speaking of talk radio, we're planning on doing our regular stop with Chris Goforth today on 1370 AM around 2 p.m. Swing by, don't cost nothing.

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Today's question

Also, remember we have one mailbag spot left.

Last night they had a benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy and the New York area. It was entertaining, especially the turns by Adam Sandler, who reworked "Hallelujah" http://www.gossipcop.com/adam-sandler-sandy-relief-hallelujah-video-12-12-12-concert-121212-song-youtube/ and Alicia Keys, who can flat go.

There was also some performances by Billy Joel and Eddie Vetter and Pink Floyd and Kanye among others.

It got us thinking, who would you go see in concert and most dread the haunting words, "Now something from the new album."

We're thinking Billy Joel is a contender. We think Garth Brooks definitely qualifies. And if this is a Rushmore, would we call it the Jimmy Buffett Rushmore?