Hopefully each of you had a safe and fun Halloween. It was a big time at the 5-at-10 compound. Our boy was a smooth firefighter, our daughter was a homemade owl, the Mrs. 5-at-10 was a photographer and we were the Ghost of Auburn football (bed sheet, Auburn visor - pretty easy actually).
From the "Talks too much" studios, let's do the mash, let's do the Monster Mash...
Fab 4 (plus 1) picks
Our picks have been called a slew of different things so far this year, including a few off-the-wall attempts by the crew at SportTalk on 102.3 FM.
We're pretty pleased that more frequently than not, our Fab 4 (plus 1) picks have been called winners. Let's hope it continues, and remember gang, these are for entertainment purposes only - and at 31-14-2 against the spread, that can buy a lot of entertainment.
Oregon minus-7 at USC: Buy the half here, and know that the Ducks must be especially motivated for this game. Look at the factors: Best unit on the field - Oregon's offense, by a wide margin; Best past motivation - USC beat Oregon last year and wrecked the Ducks' season; Best future motivation - Oregon is No. 4 in the BCS despite rolling its foes, and this figures to be the last time the Ducks can impress; Best computer motivation: Oregon needs to hang a number on USC since in a few weeks the Trojans will face Notre Dame, and the Irish are currently one spot in front of Oregon in the polls. (We like the over 70 on this one, too.)
Washington plus-5 at California: Washington is a somewhat disappointing 4-4, but those four losses are to USC and at Oregon, at LSU and at Arizona. Plus, Cal's best player - receiver Keenan Allen is doubtful - a fact that makes the under 53 attractive, too.
Vandy minus-7 at Kentucky: Buy the half. Something just feels squirrelly about taking Vandy as a road favorite in an SEC game, but we'd buy the half and take our chances. Vandy has a chance to do something special; Kentucky has not chance to save their coach's job.
Clemson minus-13.5 at Duke: Last year we were 1-8-1 in games that involved Clemson, highlighted by their bowl game - we had Clemson; they gave up 70; WVU won easily; we lost entertainment. This year we're 4-0 with Clemson because they have covered in every game against a BCS-conference foe (6-0 against the spread). Plus, there are three tiers of athletic ability in ACC football: There's the top tier, where FSU and Clemson reside; there's the completely unpredictable tier where UNC, Miami, Va. Tech and occasionally Georgia Tech reside; then there's the rest. Duke, even at an impressive 6-3, is among that third tier.
La-Monroe minus-10 against La-Lafayette: Our weekly computer viewing, compare scores and match-ups and go off feel game. Buy the half, and we like the Monroe offense - a lot - in this battle of La-La-La-La-La. This is the musical match-up that pays special tribute to LaSalle, the man who named Louisiana when he spotted it coming down the Mississippi River. Side note: Did you know "Lalala" is in the urban dictionary as the term used when there is a extended and awkward silence in a group conversation? Interesting. Here's saying that there are frequently more than a few "lalalas" when Derek Dooley and Dave Hart pass each other in the hall.
And for the Bonus pick
We have to pick LSU-Alabama, right? It's in our contract. Well if we had a contract, that is.
OK, let's break this thing down old school:
LSU: Les Miles, known for his huge hat, chewing grass, clapping his hands without touching his fingers (watch his famous palm-clap sometime, ti's awesome), and winning games at the end.
Alabama: Nick Saban, known for his huge love of Oatmeal Creme Pies, chewing the faces of reporters, making players disappear by waving his fingers, and winning games at the beginning, middle and end, but always winning games.
Edge: Alabama. That said, here's hoping Tracy Wolfson gets to interview Les before the half on the way to the locker room and recaps her "chat" with Lord Saban.
LSU: Sketchy line that has been injured makes it tough on a talented stable of backs; quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been less Zach Morris, star of "Saved by the Bell" and more Dewey Oxenberger from "Stripes." LSU fans can tell you this is not a fun thing to watch.
Alabama: The nation's best offensive line blocks for a stable of future NFL runners; quarterback A.J. McCarron, who until this year made the most noise with a head-scratching chest tat, has become a legit Heisman candidate. Alabama fans can tell you this is a fun thing to watch.
Edge: Alabama. Duh. If your quarterback is being compared to a John Candy character, that's not a good thing.
LSU: A defensive line stocked with three projected NFL first rounders - Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Bennie Logan - give the Tigers the freedom to do a lot of stuff. Plus, anytime Barkevious Levon Mingo is involved, it's a good thing, because Levon, Levon likes his money. He'll make a lot they say.
Alabama: Blah, Blah, Blah. Best in the nation. Ugh, Ugh. Slew of first rounders. Humph, humph. Ton of talent and more on the way. Side question: Does it get a little bit boring being an Alabama fan?
Edge: Alabama has the numbers; LSU has Barkevious. We call it a push.
LSU: Death Valley at night is a special place that can mean special things. Miles - the trickster known as the Mad Hatter who is part Rain Man, part Mark Twain, part Knute Rockne - has had as much success against Saban as anyone in recent years, including wins in each of the last two regular seasons.
Alabama: Talent everywhere is hardly an intangible, but that river of talent has the Tide surfing on white caps of confidence rarely seen in the modern era of college football. That confidence - and the Tide's never-ending depth - will serve them well Saturday.
Prediction: Alabama 31, LSU 13
Around college football
Spending Wednesday discussing Halloween, has us off schedule. We've under-evaluated some of the college games of interest across the South. We'll have some more in Friday's mailbag, but here's a quick five-pack of games this Saturday:
Troy at Tennessee: Something screams "Closer than expected" in this one, right? Troy's offense has scored 24 or more points in seven of its eight games. And Tennessee's defense, well, the only time you can mention Tennessee's defense and the 1985 Bears in the same sentence is, "None of the players on the Tennessee defense were born when the 1985 Bears were playing."
New Mexico State at Auburn: Speaking of "Closer than expected." Auburn's offense is dead and it's turning to a true freshman quarterback who will be making his first start. This against a NMSt team that held one of the nation's top offenses in La. Tech to 28 points last week.
Ole Miss at Georgia: Who's done a better job this year for his fan base than Hugh Freeze? Freeze has the Rebels a win from bowl eligibility with four games left. Granted there still is work to do considering three of those games are against Georgia, Miss. State and LSU, which have a combined xx-xx record. Still, the only people who are more pleased with Freeze are the people who wager entertainment on the Rebels, who are 7-1 against the spread this year, including five straight covers.
UTC at Western Carolina: A true gut-punch loss last week surely left a lingering - and stinging - mark. Four even quarters, three OTs, two special teams debacles = 1 gut-busting loss. So it goes. So, too, does the schedule go and go and go. So the Mocs have to push their chips back in and take their swings. This should be a win. In fact, anything less is no longer acceptable. (And that's high praise for Russ Huesman and Co.)
Georgia Tech at Maryland: After the stink bomb the Jackets laid in Atlanta last week, a road game may not be the worst thing in the world for Paul Johnson and Co.
This and that
- Would you pay James Harden $80 million and make him your franchise guy? Seriously, do you think Harden is the lead show pony of an NBA champion. We say no.
- We have had some good Halloween costumes in our time, but we must admit that former U.S. Paralympic skier Josh Sundquist is the Halloween master. This year, Sundquist went as the lamp from "A Christmas Story" and in year's past as gone as the Ginger Bread Man in "Shrek" and as a pirate. Check out the photo to the right. Well-played, sir. Well-played indeed.
- Tim Tebow has a girlfriend. OK, let us know when he has a reliable, accurate throw he can complete in the NFL on a regular basis.
- Jerry Sandusky was sent to Greene State Prison, a maximum security prison that houses death row inmates in the southwest part of Pennsylvania. The joint is known as "Supermax" and Sandusky will be kept in isolation for his protectioon for most of his 30-to-60 year stay in state custody.
Let's deal with some more numbers:
What's your prediction on how many UT fans attend Saturday's Vols-Troy mega-watt matchup?
Remember to consider several factors: The weather figures to be nice, and God bless the noon kickoff (friend of sports writers and church-goers alike, and believe or not, there are some that fall into BOTH groups).
That said, the level of disinterest right now is supremely high and growing. And Spy bar the door if they struggle against Troy (which is distinctly possible) about what will be waiting for Missouri the following week. As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote today, apathy is the general description of the Vols fan base right now.
OK, knowing that there are 102,455 seats in Neyland. And knowing that the announced figure is tickets sold rather than actual fannies in seats, we're setting the over/under on announced attendance Saturday at 80,000. Whatcha got, over or under the 80K?