Mailbag people. Mailbag.
From the "Talks too much" studios, this is going to be a glorious weekend.
SEC Items of interest
Is Ole Miss ready for their close-up
The Rebels host the nation's best team when Alabama comes calling Saturday. GameDay is coming too, and there's a fair argument to be made that this is the single biggest game in Ole Miss football in 50 years. Think what a win would do to change the trajectory of the program? So, are they ready? We believe most of the Rebels are ready for prime time - especially a salty defensive front that may be the best in the SEC - but we also believe that if quarterback Bo Wallace is not ready for spotlight, well, the rest will be background noise.
Who has the ball last in Starkville
Dan Mullen said this week he's not expecting a slow-down, low-scoring affair when Texas A&M comes calling to Starkville. That seems fair. In truth, the two quarterbacks here - State's Dak Prescott and A&M's Kenny Hill - have posted numbers and highlights worthy of Heisman consideration. Yes, this has the feel of a shootout, and whichever team can make one more stop will take control. Man, the center of college football this weekend is in Mississippi.
Tiger on Tiger
LSU heads to Auburn turning to freshman quarterback Brandon Harris to pull the offense together. That's a tough challenge against an Auburn defense that has been under the radar and overall pretty sharp this season. This will be the biggest test for each set of Tigers, and while the Auburn offense has failed to generate its usual high-flying fireworks, it's still averaging more than 42 points per game.
UK hosting Spurrier
Disappointing SEC losses to Texas A&M and Missouri and a scuffling performance against Vandy have left South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier scratching his visor. Kentucky is going all-black-out in uniform and in the stands. We still believe the Gamecocks have more talent and they have Spurrier. That said, if the Wildcats pull off the upset, Spurrier's news conference afterward shoul;d be streamed live by all the major networks.
Will Todd Gurley get to 100
We believe Georgia is going to punish Vandy. Like bad. We believe that Todd Gurley is the best player in college football. We believe that children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way. We believe that if two trains leave Chicago at the same going in opposite directions... Wait, where were we? Oh, yeah. Georgia will not need a big game from Gurley to best Vandy, but Gurley could use a big game to add to that Heisman resume. Here's saying he gets it.
OK, it's been a while since we went old school and brought in two faux experts to breakdown the styles and wants of a big college football Saturday.
There are bigger games this weekend in the SEC - heck, each match-up in the West features teams ranked in the top 15. But when Florida visits Knoxville, the stakes are huge - like that slab-of-meat-they-put-on-the-side-of-Fred-Flintstone's-car-that-makes-it-flip-over big.
So, when matters get to this size, let's confer with the experts. Welcome to the roundtable Pretend Les Miles and Pretend Jon Gruden (and all of these quotes were offered by the real Miles and Gruden either in press conferences or on telecasts about a variety of topics and since they were so nonsensical, well, they work in almost any setting
Question: Which team should feel more pressure?
Pretend Les Miles: [Both teams understand] If you put the ball on the line, they'll like to scrap you for it, and they understand that playing in this league, it's going to be close.
Pretend Jon Gruden: "I really don't know the rules."
Question: Uh, OK. What do you think of the transformation of Justin Worley from the best choice available to arguably the most important player to his team in the SEC?
Pretend Les Miles: I've got to be honest with you, I've never operated with expectations...
Pretend Jon Gruden: "Genetically, he's different... He's a surgeon; he'll shred you."
Question: Hmmmm. Right. Genetically we're all different if memory serves and surgeons are supposed to, never mind. OK, when you are looking at the stakes for the coaches, which program has more on the line?
LM: "Football is one where you have to take somebody on in a frontal position, it's certainly a point of leverage, that helmet."
Question: Thanks Les. Specifically Coach Gruden, what do you think of Will Muschamp?
JG: He talks with his eyeballs.... I can't say I don't disagree with him.
Question: What? That's ridiculous. Is that a triple negative that means you actually do disagree with him? Let's skip it. What do you think of Muschamp and for that matter Butch Jones who is wearing the hat of the favorite for the first time in a big SEC game?
LM: I have no reason to fear the hat. I put it on my head everyday... When I wake up in the morning and I turn that film on, it's like reading a book and it's exciting. I don't read books, but if I read books it would be like reading a book.
JG: It's the penthouse or the outhouse. Trust me, I got to the outhouse fast after a very short stay in the penthouse.... Don't listen to me. That's why I'm out of the profession.
That clears everything up, right?
Fab four picks
We need a rebound. Our picks - for entertainment purposes only of course - have bounced around like Co-Cola can in the back of a pick-up truck. We have enjoyed some ups and the downs have been harsh.
Last week was bad - and it was our second 2-4 week in the last three. That can get rather expensive in the pursuit of entertainment, because remember, good times are rarely cheap and money may not buy happiness, but it can put a pretty solid down payment on it.
We missed three games last week because of touchdowns in the final few minutes of one-sided games that mattered little in the standings but changed everything in the eyes of Vegas. So it goes and so goes the entertainment stash we built early in season.
The last time we went 2-4 we followed that with a 6-3 mark, so naturally we're picking nine games and planning on going at least 6-3 to get our moo back. Giddy-up.
Last week: 2-4 against the spread
Season: 17-15 against the spread
East Carolina minus-41 over SMU: The Pirates have been a pleasant surprise and even have danced among the top 25 at times. Still, this pick - and laying that much weight - is about the stinkiness of SMU. Yes, it takes blind faith to give up almost six TDs, but did you know that SMU has scored one TD total in four games, and that was a meaningless Hail Mary in a 43-6 loss to North Texas? We are going to ride opposite SMU until the Mustangs prove otherwise. Sadly, SMU is off next week.
Wisconsin minus-7 over Northwestern: The Wildcats pantsed Fab Four fav James Franklin last week. It was a good win for Pat Fitzgerald's bunch. Wisconsin, though, is a much more balanced and complete group and only laying a TD in a less-than-hostile environment seems like great value.
South Carolina minus-5 over Kentucky: Spurrier vs. Kentucky. Something feels right here. And, yes, Kentucky is improved, and a lot of that improvement is based on a defensive line that has NFL talent. Well, South Carolina's overwhelming strength is an experienced offensive line that may be the best in the league.
Kansas State minus-12 over Texas Tech: We have split on Texas Tech; we have split on Kansas State. This will be the tie-breaker. And we seldom wear ties.
Oklahoma minus-5 over TCU: TCU clobbered SMU. Oklahoma is not SMU. Oklahoma has championship dreams. Championship dreams don't die at TCU.
Baylor minus-14 over Texas: Texas has scored more than 20 just once this season - against an awful Kansas team that promptly fired its coach after allowing more than 20 points to Texas. Baylor let Iowa State off the hook last week with a trash, late-covering TD. But the chance to punish a Texas team that has forever punished Baylor in years past.
Georgia minus-33 over Vandy: Georgia coming off a poor performance against a poor Vandy performer. Did we mention that Vandy is starting some QB named Wade Somethingorother? Did we mention that a Vandy linebacker called Todd Gurley just another running back. Yes, this is a ton of points. It has the 55-3 feel.
Alabama minus-6 over Ole Miss: Ole Miss thinks they're ready; Alabama knows its ready. And that's the difference. As for what a win would mean for Ole Miss, well, it's almost impossible to quantify. We do know that Hugh Freeze then becomes the hottest name in coaching circles. Side note: A quick Rushmore of Freeze - Hugh Freeze, Mr. Freeze from the Batman TV Show, Tasty Freez from "Jack and Diane" and Freeze Tag.
Georgia Tech pick 'em over Miami: Shhhh, but Georgia Tech is 4-0 and doing it with an offense that is running full speed. The young skill position guys in Paul Johnson's offense look like they are having fun. Miami spanked Duke and our picks last week - and in fact, we're 0-2 in games involving the Hurricanes - but this one feels better.
This and that
- The Giants beat the Pirates. We were cheering for the Pirates. So it goes.
- The Mocs host VMI in a homecoming spanking. Let's set the line at UTC minus-30. Whatcha' got?
- Ton of excellent high school in the are this weekend. Enjoy.
- Loved Weeds column this morning. Good stuff.
OK, feel free to offer insight to any of the above, and feel free to discuss the items of interest for your football favorite.
And the mailbag has a spot or two open.
As for a talking point, well, today is the 64th anniversary of the first Peanuts comic strip being published. What's your Rushmore of cartoon kids?