5-at-10: Fab 4 picks, is this good-bye to Bama-UT rivalry?, Mickelson talks, Paulie dies

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) looks for a passing outlet against Arkansas during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

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Fab 4 picks

If this is the last Third Saturday in October to be permanently on the docket for Alabama and Tennessee, it should be a good one.

As TFP SEC ace David Paschall shared in today's fish wrapper, the SEC expansion on the horizon will cause the league to have eight SEC games with seven rotating and one fixed foe in 2024.

For Alabama, that fixed foe would be Auburn, and Alabama coach Nick Saban more than hinted last week that could be the path moving forward to allow the league teams to the full league in a four-year span.

The above debate about whether UT and Alabama should play every year is for bigger-brained folks than me.

And that of course would not be the only game pushed aside, because even if it's no longer a competitive rivalry, as an Auburn grad a football schedule without Georgia on it will feel empty.

Same with UT-Bama.

Just like Waylon — who has always been crazy — let's do some pickin' friends.

James Madison minus-3.5 over Marshall. The Dukes are the class of the Sun Belt, and have won six straight. Marshall has lost two in a row, but despite being at home, the Herd is playing their third game in 12 days. Being low in the tank is not ideal against this JMU crew.

Alabama-Tennessee under 48.5. And Saturday's rock fight between two erratic offenses and two strong defenses — especially along the front seven.

Missouri-South Carolina over all of them. The total is 58.5, and I likely would play it up to 63. Truly. Missouri is good offensively, especially in the passing game; South Carolina is dreadful defensively, especially in the passing game. But South Carolina can move it through the air too with Spencer Rattler. Just as long as Shane Beamer — who broke his foot in frustration in last week's disappointing loss to Florida — is not needed to kick anything.

Arkansas-Mississippi State over 48.5. MSU was off last week; Arkansas returns to play at home for the first time since mid-September. MSU is uncharacteristically passive defensively — ranking outside the top 100 in most advanced defensive metrics, including pressure and havoc plays — which means KJ Jefferson is going to cook.

Utah plus-7 against USC. Utah runs the ball. Well. Utah plays defense. Well. And yes, USC can score, but even with a Heisman on the mantle and a ticket to the Heisman House, Caleb Williams has been pretty pedestrian against top-20 defenses. Williams is 76-of-148 for 880 yards with six TDs and six picks in five games against top-25 defenses in points allowed. For what it's worth, Utah is fifth nationally, allowing just 13.8 points per game.

Last week: 4-2-1 against the spread (66.7%)

This season: 26-18-1 against the spread (59.1%)

Fore shadowing

The framework of the golf merger between the PGA Tour and LIV golf and its endless-pocketed Saudi backers — yeah, those scary mother bleepers — was sketchy from the start.

And it looks even shakier now.

Phil Mickelson, who is a lot of things, good and bad, offered some insightful and potentially dangerous comments about the merger and the continued interest in the LIV tour from current PGA players.

When asked if he thought more players would join LIV, Mickelson's words were not short on clarity.

"No," Mickelson said, "I know that's going to happen. When players look at LIV, they are wanting to be a part of it. Everybody here is happy and enjoying what we are doing and enjoying the team aspect of it and the camaraderie and all the benefits that come with playing this tour.

"The reality is, I've been fielding calls, as we all have, from players who are free agents to PGA Tour players who want to come over. So the question is how many spots are available? There's a lot more players that want to come than there are spots."

Ian Poulter was also clear about interest from the DP World Tour (the former European Tour), which could be doubly in trouble since the LIV money is much more lucrative and the fields in the LIV are more recognizable than the DP fields.

Mickelson also said the PGA Tour's openness to a proposed merger left several current PGA players more open to switching tours.

I'm starting to wonder if the LIV folks would be the ones to back out of this merger, because if they continue to attract the star power — and let's face it — the LIV will only grow. Plus, Jay Monahan's horribly mismanaged attempts to lead through every step of this divide have assuredly rubbed countless big-name players the wrong way.

Rest in Power Paulie

Man, Paulie from the Rocky movies died Wednesday. Burt Young was 83.

Paulie introduced Rocky and Adrian. Paulie blew Rocky's fortune. Paulie also had a slew of comedy zingers throughout the series that made him lovable despite his flaws.

And yes, if you slept on Young's performance as Thornton Melon's enforcer in "Back to School," well, that's on you. Rest easy Paulie. You were a treasure.

In terms of sports movie sidekicks, where would Paulie rank?


This and that

— The WNBA crowned a champion last night as the Las Vegas Aces won their second straight title. No, I didn't watch it either. But I felt obligated to include it because I was this many days old when a) I learned that Raiders owner Mark Davis owns that team and b) Mark Davis celebrated with the team with these dance moves. I need more Mark Davis dancing in my life. In fact, I now want the Raiders to win the Super Bowl so Mark Davis dancing continues.

— Cool move from LSU, which painted its end zone camouflage as the Tigers get ready to score 50 on Army.

— So Carli Lloyd said she "had enough of kneeling" during the national anthem during the Olympics. Welcome to the club Carli.

— So the National Toy Hall of Fame is letting fans vote on the "Forgotten Five" finalists to see which gets enshrined. The five — Transformers, the bubble popper every kid ever had and used to drive their parents nuts, the pogo stick, PEZ dispensers and My Little Pony — have been forever close but have not gotten into the Hall. It has to be between Transformers and the pogo stick right?

— Speaking of picks — and the rules — here's Paschall's SEC picks column.

— And speaking of picks, Jay's Plays is, well, rule one of Fight Club is we don't talk about Fight Club.

Today's questions

Anything goes Thursday — the original AGT before Simon Cowell started biting my rhymes — means ask anything.

We'll answer anything you got — be it here or in Friday's reconvening.

We'll start this for the group: Who was your first favorite player that you can remember?

Mine was Steve Garvey because a) I loved the Dodgers growing up and b) my first glove had his mass-produced signature in the middle.

What about you, and it can be any sport?

As for today, Oct. 19, let's review.

Lil' Durk is 31 today, and if you're wondering "Who the bleep is Lil' Durk," well, I have two answers.

He's either a) the son or younger brother of Big Durk of course, and b) a popular rapper who has fashioned a number of enjoyable tunes that elicit some of my best (bad) dad dance moves that horrify the youngest 5-at-10, who is a seventh grade girl and thinks I could be the most embarrassing dad of all-time — Archie Bunker included.

Tops on that list right now is of course "Lil' Boo Thing" by Paul Russell, which makes Ray Ray dive for cover in the back seat of my truck.

Jon Favreau is 57. On a serious note, dude may be among the most talented Hollywood dues of his generation. From comedies to dramas to blockbusters to a world of success behind the camera, he's had a Hall of Fame career already.

On an AGT, better career tandems and besties, Favreau and Vince Vaughn or Matt Damon and Ben Affleck? Discuss.

Also, Evander Holyfield is 61. Rushmore of boxers after Muhammad Ali retired?

Go and remember the mailbag.