Remember about Friday's mailbag.

From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...

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Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley, right, hands the ball off to tailback Marlin Lane against Alabama.

UT and UGA face huge opportunities

Don't look now, but there are huge, Huge, HUGE football games on tap this weekend for your UT Vols and your Georgia Bulldogs.

Consider the stakes:

The Vols are teetering on the edge of desperation. Sure, blowout losses are never greeted with smiles and high 5s on The Hill, but the Vols are not the only program that's going to take 1-2 knockout punches from LSU and Alabama.

Now the Vols host a South Carolina team without its best player. In fact, offensively, these Gamecocks now mirror these Vols. Each team has an NFL-ready receiver - UT's Da'Rick Rogers and USC's Alshon Jeffery - and a collection of question marks and duct tape. This game is winnable for the Vols, and a loss would be painful both on its face and in what it means for the Vols' bowl hopes.

As for the Bulldogs, well, with South Carolina's injury woes and dismissals, everyone believes the Bulldogs are in the driver's seat for the SEC East, even if the Gamecocks hold the tie-breaking edge. Georgia's playing well, but this would hardly be the first time that a Georgia team playing well stubbed its toe in Jacksonville.

Plus, there's this factor - and UT fans know this from their September meeting against Florida - if you're not going to get the Gators now, when are you going to get them? It's hard to imagine a Florida team being more mediocre than this bunch unless Charlie Pell becomes involved in the coming years, and that seems highly doubtful.

There are big rewards - or big disappointments - on the horizon this Saturday.


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Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland waves to the crowd after he was taken out of the game during the ninth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Arlington, Texas (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

World Series

Tony LaRussa took full blame for the communication malfunction that left Rangers slugger Mike Napoli facing a left-hander in the Game 5's decisive at-bat when Napoli delivered a game-winning double. OK, we're confused. There's talk of Tony LaRussa being the best manager of his generation, and he can't work a phone? That's what we're sticking with? Really?

OK, if that's the case, the LaRussa is Baseball's Rain Man - swaying back and forth in Raymond Babbitt monotone "8 minutes to Pujols, 8 minutes to Pujols; 247 toothpicks, definitely 247 toothpicks - joining other sports' Rain Man (or would it be Rain Men, which in turn gets us close to the old disco tune "Raining Men," which is a place we need to avoid on a Wednesday at the family-orientated, InterWeb-based sports column) such as Peyton Manning, Steve Nash and Landon Donovan.

Anyhoo, about tonight's Game 6, well, the 5-at-10 thought it was going seven games from the start, so we think the Cards will win. But we have a bigger cause for concern. We all know baseball is struggling on TV. We also know that the weather is going to be particularly bad tonight in St. Louis - 60-plus percent of showers expected all night.

That said, if they play through the rain and damage the product (i.e. a stinky game amid rain drops and puddles), that's not good. If they start and dance around three rain delays and finish at 1:45 a.m. and no one other than independently wealthy Cards or Rangers fans see it, that's not good.

That's right, we're calling for a Crash Davis' rainout, but only if you do it before it starts and that way everyone knows their tickets are good and everything.

Thank you we'll be here are all week. Here are the folks that still have a chance in the Not-So-World-Serious (with MVP's in parenthesis)

5-at-10: Cards in 7 (Albert Pujols)

Mrs. 5-at-10: Rangers in 6 (Ian Kinsler)

Oso: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

Spy: Rangers in 6. (Michael Young)

OTWatcher: Rangers in 6 (Adrian Beltre)

SportTalk's Dr. B (He's a doctor after all): Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

SportTalk's Quake: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

WarEagle: Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

BetterthanYou: Rangers in 6 (Mike Napoli)

Friendoftheshow: Rangers in 6 (Napoli)


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LSU running back Spencer Ware (11) scores his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard run against Tennessee during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. LSU won 38-7. At left is LSU tight end Mitch Joseph (83) and at right is Tennessee linebacker A. J. Johnson (45). (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Matchup of the century, part I

It's Wednesday, 10 days before the LSU-Alabama slugfest in what we'll simply call The Showdown. And there are so many storylines and angles that we might as well start now.

First, the talk about the SEC being top-heavy is accurate. But, when it comes to LSU and Alabama, far and away the two best teams so far in college football, the entire sport is top heavy. And when you have such powerhouses in a conference that also includes once-beaten Arkansas, once-beaten South Carolina, and a ranked Auburn team which has losses to three teams with a combined record of 22-1, well, saying the SEC is top heavy is like saying the 5-at-10's wife is too pretty. Yes, you're right. But how is that a bad thing.

Anyhoo, today's angle for The Showdown, is the historical perspective for Trent Richardson.

We referenced this during our discussions about the SEC Mount Rushmore last week, and we'll put a little more of a point on it here. We know what is at stake for the teams - barring a huge unforeseen upset, this is a BCS semifinal - but what about what could be on the line with a very good-to-great showing by Richardson.

If Richardson shows out, he becomes the Heisman frontrunner. If he shows out, he pushes forward to those special platforms of 1,500-plus yards and 20-plus TDs. If he shows out, and goes on to win the Heisman and 'Bama wins the BCS, Richardson becomes a first-team running back on the All-SEC team in the title-game era (since 1992). Richardson would be a meaningful piece to two national title teams and have a Heisman. That's a strong resume. (He would be in the backfield with Darren McFadden and Tim Tebow, for what it's worth.)


This and that

- We were remiss not to mention this earlier this week, but did anyone see the preseason SEC basketball projections? Of course Kentucky was picked at the top - and the Wildcats are going to challenge for a national title - followed by highly regarded Vandy and Florida. But the shocker was Tennessee was picked 11th in the 12-team league, behind Auburn. Yes, Auburn. Wow, somewhere Bruce Pearl is smiling about that (and then he lied about it).

- OK, West "By Golly" Virginia has been extended an invitation to replace Missouri in the Big 12 when Missouri leaves for the SEC but Missouri has not announced its decision to move into the SEC, but we know all this and are waiting for the music to stop. This is like one of those predictably bad 2000s teen movies, where we know the girl with the glasses is going to be hot by the end of the movie and everyone is going to say, "Wow, we had no idea that you were this cool AND pretty." Gag. Where's Freddie Prinze Jr?

- Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, who was among baseball's biggest disappointments and was part of the Boston group that allegedly was drinking beer in the clubhouse and even the dugout during games, will miss the 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery. Who knew that 12-ounce curls could damage elbow ligaments? That means there are a lot of my fraternity brothers that may need to see a doctor in the coming years.

- The three suspended LSU players returned to practice Tuesday. No comment there, just passing along some information.


Today's question

The evaporation of Major League Baseball's TV appeal is not a secret. In fact, it's common knowledge.

Let's put it to a survey:

We're not going to include a Game 7 because that's a different animal. So, let's take tonight's Game 6 between the Cardinals and the Rangers and pit it against some shows that happen in October (granted these won't be tonight, but you get the idea - and we're not going to schedule them against a full say of college football of the NFL)

Which of the follow would you watch:

- Game 6 of the World Series

- Mediocre SEC football game (say South Carolina-Miss. State)

- Dances with the Stars

- CSI or whatever one of those TV drama/detective shows that floats your boat

- None of these, still flipping looking for a classic college football replay, some Texas Hold 'em or a movie we know all the words to but haven't seen in a few months.