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

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

January 6th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

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.

2014 Bowl Championship Series logo

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

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.

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Strong hire

Charlie Strong

Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Times Free Press.

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.

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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.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

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.

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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.)

Jadeveon Clowney

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

- 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.

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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.