From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...
Tennessee vs Georgia
Let's talk quarterbacks.
Tennessee gunslinger Tyler Bray has the physical tools to be an NFL starter. He's tall with a quick release and enough arm strength to tussle Mel Kiper's hair.
Aaron Murray is a little less pro-polished, but he may be more suited to the college game. He runs better and he uses all of his weapons better than Bray, who has a tendency to lock in with his No. 1 guy when things get a little hairy.
As far as development, this is a huge game for each quarterback. Each is a sophomore that has the physical tools to succeed in the SEC. Each has experience - Bray is 7-2 as a starter and Murray is 9-9. Each has been in pressure-filled moments - Bray in the second half at South Carolina and this year at the Swamp; Murray has been Georgia's starter since the start of 2010.
But neither has delivered that "Hang-you-hat" win. That performance that wins over the huddle and the fan base to the point that if the Vols or the Dawgs were done 3 on the road in the SEC and had the ball with one timeout and 90 second left, everyone would feel that overtime was a certainty and a win was likely. Do you feel that way this morning with either Bray or Murray? No, we didn't think so.
And it has nothing to do with skills - both these cats have talents to burn.
No, each of these guys need this type of win to prove he is more than a passer. This is more about throwing a pretty spiral to Da'Rick Rogers and hitting Orson Charles on a seam route.
Murray and Bray have a lot of positives, but which one of them has "it" - that quarterback-gene that is hard to define but easy to recognize. Saturday will show us who is closer to having "it" and who is still searching for "it."
Fab 4 (plus 1)
This season we're 16-6-1. That's 10 games over .500, meaning if you had wagered $1 on each of the Fab 4-plus 1 picks you'd be $10 to the good (or $9.40 to the good minus the "commission" for making said wagers).
And that's with a couple of painful losses last week, including the Texas A&M meltdown. So it goes. That's why it's called gambling and why the casinos are billion-dollar buildings and bookies drive way, Way, WAY nicer cars than gamblers. One way the house generally wins is the lure bets, the chicken-livers-to-catfish bets that suck in the general public. Last week was Wisconsin giving up 10 points to Nebraska in a matchup of Top-10 teams. Everyone was all over Nebraska, even Wisconsin, which hammered the Huskers.
This week, the chicken liver bet could be LSU, which has arguably the nation's best defense and will welcome a freshman quarterback into Death Valley. Not a good combination. Want to know another combination that's less than good: Les Miles as a double-digit favorite in SEC games. Miles and the Tigers are 1-13 against the number when they are a double-digit SEC favorite. Scary trends each way.
That said, we're back in the game and offer these as our Fab 4-plus 1 (and remember, these are for entertainment purposes only):
Oklahoma minus-10 over Texas - If this line feels big, that's because since 1997 this rivalry has had a double-digit underdog only twice. Still, this one feels like a Red River Runaway.
Georgia Tech minus-13.5 over Maryland - The Terps have not played on the road yet. They also have not seen anything like this Jackets' running game - and Maryland allowed 285 yards rushing to Temple last week. Ouch
Oregon minus-22 over California - In their last 18 home games - all wins - Oregon is averaging right at 50 points per game. Get the weekend off to a good start.
Arizona State minus-3 at Utah - Call it a hunch, and buy the half if you have that option. (If you know what that means, you're nodding your head; if you don't know what that means, just nod your head anyway.)
The plus one game was tough this week. There were about three tied for the final spot: Florida plus-13.5 at LSU; Arkansas minus-10 against Auburn; Alabama minus-28 over Vandy, the Tennessee-Georgia game (but we're not picking that one until Friday, so there's that), but we'll go with:
Missouri minus-3 at Kansas State - Call it a hunch, and look about purchasing the half. (Keep nodding.)
Wow, talk about extra helpings
We talked Wednesday about how elimination baseball games in the postseason are the bees knees. It's boss, and we all agree on that.
Well, welcome to 30 hours of baseball bliss. Starting tonight when the Yankees and Tigers play Game 5 in their ALDS and carrying through Friday night's doubleheader of Game 5s between the Phillies and the Cards and the late game between the Brewers and the Diamondbacks, there are three win-or-pack-up-the-gear games on the schedule. Plus, each game is in a fan-charged enviroment: tonight in Yankee Stadium and Friday in Philly (with a crazed and somewhat desperate crowd) and Milwaukee (with a full-blown desperate crowd that has to realize that with Prince Fielder's pending free agency, this could be their final chance to make a big run).
Two add to the drama of the Game 5s in the NL, arguably the four best starting pitchers in the league not named Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound. Here's a sneak peek:
Arizona's Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88 ERA, 198 Ks) vs. Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.53, 207) and St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45, 191) vs. Phildelphia's Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35, 220).
The Carpenter-Halladay matchup is especially intriguing. It's only the third time Cy Young winners have faced off in a decisive game and the first time Pedro Martinez was not involved. (Martinez started decisive games against Barry Zito and Roger Clemens in the early 2000s.) Plus, Halladay and Carpenter spent five years together in Toronto before being consumed by bigger-market clubs with bigger budgets. Somewhere Johnny Blue Jays Fan just smacked his forehead and canceled his season tickets.
We have a baseball question in the mailbag for Friday, so we'll pick the NL games there, but as for tonight's Tigers-Yankees showdown, here goes:
Too much mystique. Let's say Derek Jeter gets a big hit and Mariano Rivera gets a four-out save and the Yankees win, ttttthhhhhaaaaaaaaaa Yankees win.
This and that
- Hey, we're on day 2 that no new NCAA violations were reported by THE Ohio State University. Way to go Buckeyes, high 5s all around. That said, THE school president E. Gordon Gee (Side question: Do you think his buddies call him "E" or "E. Gordon" or "Gordon" or "Gordo" or "Flash" or even "Flounder," as in "Your Delta Tau Chi name is Flounder." "Why?" "Why not?") said THE OSU is a poster child of compliance. Uh, yeah. OK, Flash, why don't you stop talking for a while. THE OSU is a poster child maybe in the way they so those old HR example videos of inappropriate office behavior and one guy punches another guy in the face, and then question comes on the screen: "When is it OK to punch a co-worker in the face: a) whenever he deserves it; b) occasionally, but not more than once a quarter; c) when he smarts off; d) never.
- We'll take a moment of silence for Steve Jobs here. The 5-at-10 is not an Apple Seed or Apple to the Core or whatever Jobs' devoted followers called themselves, but we can recognize and appreciate greatness. And Jobs was that. Think of it this way: Jobs dying Wednesday afternoon a day after the iPhone 418+Q was released was the same moment for computer folks as Dale Earhnardt dying at Daytona. So show some respect.
- Reports have Missouri officials looking for an SEC invitation. Shocking. Simply shocking.
We're back wanting your thoughts about UT-UGA on Saturday.
Bring it and remember to include the score predictions (UT by 7 or UGA by 7 will suffice).
OK, whatcha' got and we'll add some of the other predictions we've already received throughout the day. And there's a real chance we'll offer up our pick on "The Show," with Chris Goforth today around 2 p.m. on 1370 AM.