5-at-10: Fab 4 picks, 5 SEC things to watch, hoops and best duets

5-at-10: Fab 4 picks, 5 SEC things to watch, hoops and best duets

November 7th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns


Cowboy up.

Toughen up.

Or as the Godfather not related to a Corleone plainly and poetically said, "Get up-a."

This weekend is money. MONEY. Ballers. Shot callers. Twenty-inch rims on the Impala.

College hoops starts. College football features some heavyweight matchups starting tonight. State high school playoffs. Raking leaves. Well, that last one stinks, but hey, gotta do what we gotta do, right?

So with that, we issue a final call for mailbag questions - bring it.

From the "Talks too much" studios, what's the best way to describe James Brown? We'll go with ahead of his time, because if The Godfather had the stage and opportunity that Kanye West has..... forget about it.

Fab 4-plus-1-times-two picks

We did not count last night's Ball State pick on weekly ledger because we have a running standard of doing these on Thursday. (And the anything-but-cosmetic TD in the final 90 seconds that allowed Central Michigan to cover the 21 by a point was not met with cheers at the 5-at-10 compound.)

So here we are, sitting at 29-20-1 after last week's 2-3 week.

We are tippy-toeing into dangerous waters, considering we are racing against the clock to get back near the 70 percent mark we established the last two college football season.

Si, desperate times call for desperate measures, and are normal 4-plus-1 just got supersized. Side question: How big is the profit margin on Co-Colas and fries at the drive through if the can double the size of each for like 10 cents?

Anyhoo, remember, these picks are for entertainment only, and please risk only the entertainment with which you can afford to part. So let's get to the games:

Navy minus-17 over Hawaii: OK, buckle up for some research and science. SCIENCE. Hey, what ever happened to Thomas Dolby? Anyhoo, this pick has nothing to do with football. Can't even name a player on either team, although we do know that each head coach has roots in the Aloha State. Here goes: Hawaii has lost eight in a row. Check. Hawaii travelled roughly 2,950 miles to Utah last week and got thumped. They are going to travel about 4,800 miles to play at Annapolis. The game kicks off at 3:30 Eastern, which is 10:30 a.m. Hawaii time. Aloha means good-bye.

Notre Dame minus-4 over Pitt: The Irish are renowned for playing to their level of competition. That said, we believe the Irish are improving every week. Call this one a hunch - and a tip of the green-shaded visor to the SportTalk guys and Izod, who's riding the Irish, too.

La. Tech minus-14 over Southern Miss: We're pretty sure we'd lay two TDs with Baylor over Southern Miss. No, not Baylor University, Baylor School. Southern Miss has imploded. It's 0-8 this year after going winless last year, and the only game the Golden Eagles have covered was a 24-3 loss at Arkansas. Want the final statement on complete and total stink? Souther Miss is in the bottom five in scoring offense (12.8 per game) and scoring defense (44.6).

La-Monore minus-3 over Arkansas State: We made some hay - country term for entertainment - last year riding the Warhawks and quarterback Kolton Browning. When Browning was thought to be injured for the season in September we lost touch with Monroe. (Speaking of that, whatever happened to Jim J. Bullock, who played Monroe on "Two Close for Comfort" with Ted Knight?) Well, Browning has been back for three weeks, and the Warhawks have won - and covered - three straight. Yes, please.

UCLA-Arizona over the 56: We also think the Bruins cover the 1 here, but so it goes.

Ole Miss minus-16 over Arkansas: Call this a hunch, but we believe the Hogs are about to wave the "Slaughter us now" flag. And Ole Miss, which had a bye last weekend as the Hogs were getting drummed by Auburn, has a lot on the line that could even lead to a potential Cotton Bowl invite.

Fresno State minus-9.5 over Wyoming: One of only seven unbeaten major college football teams and one of two unbeaten FSUs, Fresno has a lot on the line. Wyoming wears brown. So there you go.

Auburn minus-7 over Tennessee: We were shocked when this line came out. We were shocked that this line has not moved. We'd be shocked if Auburn did not win by double digits, considering allowing more than 300 rushing yards to Missouri is hardly a good prequel to facing an Auburn offense that averages more than 306 rushing yards a game and has three players with more than 500 rushing yards this season.

Missouri minus-13 over Kentucky: The Wildcats are giddy. Basketball is starting. That said, the Kentucky football team, while fieisty, does not have the weapons to stand toe-to-toe with the offensive machine that Missouri has become. Ask yourself this: Missouri with backup quarterback Matty Mauk trucked Tennessee last week; Kentucky lost to fellow SEC cellar dweller Mississippi State; how is Missouri only a 13-point pick here?

Indiana minus-9 over Illinois: The Hoosiers are giddy. Basketball is starting. Beyond that, the offense for their football team is posting numbers that must be noticed. Want to know the last team to score more than six points against the Michigan State Spartans? Yep, the Hoosiers, who lost 42-28 at East Lansing four weeks ago. Two weeks ago, Illinois lost 42-3 at home to the same Spartans. Big Ten football is bad, but making entertainment is good.

Last week against the spread: 2-3

This season against the spread: 29-20-1


5 SEC things to watch

We are pulling the primetime LSU-Alabama matchup out of this because there are five awesome things to watch in that one alone. So let's do five things to watch on the undercard of an interesting Saturday in the SEC:

1) Can UT get Auburn off the field?

The 8-1 Tigers' eye-popping turnaround - AU was 2-7 at this point last year and had all but quit - has been fueled by an Energizer Bunny-esque run game fueled by first-year coach Gus Malzahn, who is a mad scientist calling run plays that are equal parts misdirection and power. The rushing numbers for the Tigers are impressive - their 306.2 rushing yards a game ranks sixth nationally and running backs Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne and quarterback Nick Marshall each is among the top 13 in the SEC in rushing yards and each averages better than 5.7 a carry. That on-schedule running game has allowed Auburn to convert almost 46 percent of its third downs and extend drives. UT coach Butch Jones talked about his team's lack of depth this week, and that will be magnified if Auburn is allowed to convert a series of third downs. For the Vols to be in this game in the fourth quarter, they are going to have to get off the field in the first three.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel throws during NCAA college football practice in College Station, Texas.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel throws during NCAA...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

2) What's Johnny Football's ceiling

Mississippi State is stagnant, and the amazing thing is that the Bulldogs were 11 seconds away from derailing the Auburn turnaround before it even started back in September. So it goes. Now, the home stretch starts with a MSU trip to College Station and Mr. Johnny Manziel's high-wire, high-flying, high-flinging act of shiny football goodness. Texas A&M choked MSU in Starkville last year, and while that Aggies team was better than this version, that MSU team was a lot better than this version. Also of note, this will be the lead game of the CBS doubleheader and if memory serves Craig Bolerjack will be on the broadcast. Here's saying Mr. and Mrs. Bolerjack missed a cool naming opportunity. Jack Bolerjack would have been boss. And as in most cases, Barkevious would have been cool too. Good times.

3) Vandy a 10-point dog in the Swamp

In the bizarro world that is this year's SEC, Vandy is only a 10-point underdog headed to the Swamp and that seems like a really good line. There were years when Florida's intramural champs would have been a 10-point pick over Vandy, but with the Florida offense going in reverse and the up-and-down nature of the Commodores, this game could go any number of ways. That said, there are two future NFL players matching up when Jordan Matthews faces any of the Florida cornerbacks. In fact, the testament to the strangeness of this game is that the best offensive player on the field is a Vandy wide out. When was the last time you would say that in this matchup.

4) Will Ole Miss name its score

We think that's a real possibility when the deflated Arkansas Razorbacks come calling. This Ole Miss team is built for speed and to built to run away from folks. Plus, if the Rebels can force LSU to become one-dimentional and slow down the LSU passing game that is filled with shiny NFL pieces from Saks, how is Arkansas's tarnished, Wal-Mart brand passing game going to succeed?

5) Will Kentucky keep fighting

The Wildcats have given effort throughout this disappointing first season under Mark Stoops. It will be interesting to see if that passion continues as the weather turns, the goals fade and an inspired and talented Missouri team visits. If the Cats do play tough - especially since basketball season opens Friday - then that would be another positive sign in Stoops' debut with a collection of misfit toys that are equal parts squeaky, dated or flat-out busted.


College hoops

We are hours away from college basketball starting and we know 9er is stoked.

We also realized that we have under-previewed college hoops, and that's on us.

With that in mind, and with the knowledge that college hoops really doesn't matter until the five-letter months come around, here are five points we need to make before the season starts:

  1. We think UTC made a very good hire. Will Wade knows his stuff. Does that mean more wins? Hard to know. We do believe it will mean a better product sooner rather than later and more fun at McKenzie.
  2. We believe the Vols are a tournament team. Yes, 9er's questions about the point guard situation are fair, but the pieces around the point guard are there.
  3. Kentucky is the best team in the country. Not sure they'll win it, but they are the most talented. And crazy that Robert Morris will visit Lexington later this month riding a one-game winning streak over the Cats.
  4. We believe Andrew Wiggins is the real deal and will be a joy to watch. Good times.
  5. We also believe the new rules are going to make it even tougher to watch regular-season college hoops. We think the long-term product will be helped by the new rules - not unlike how today's NBA is much better because of the rule changes made a decade ago - but the adjustments getting there are going to be hard to watch.


This and that

- The heat is on the Miami Dolphins organization. No way this staff survives this. None. And now that the players are talking and stories are becoming consistent that the coaches looked to Richie Incognito to "toughen up" Jonathan Martin, well, game over. On a side note, isn't a bunch of that the 100-percent core of "Bull Durham" with Crash and Nuke? Discuss.

- Want to know something that is crazy and sad from this whole Dolphins mess? There's a strong chance Incognito will be welcomed back into the locker room more quickly than Martin.

- Did you see the story about the guy who lost a bet on the Bears-Packers game so he used a taser on his wife? If that's the case, what did the winner get? Makes us think of the old Grizzard gag, that the winner of a contest got two Braves tickets and the loser got four.


Today's question

Gang, we're still looking for mailbag items. Either e-mail them to us at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or hit us on the Twitter at @jgreesontfp or post them in the comments below.

Feel free to riff on any and all of the weekend possibilities, including the debut of Chaos, the Mocs mega-moment, the college football extra-ganza ahead or more.

That said, our question veers in another direction.

We watched a big part of the CMAs last night. Wow, what happened to country music? All Tim McGraw needed was a Gucci bag for crying out loud. Dude had on skinny pants with $200 T-Shirt and no belt and weighed like 12 pounds. He was way more Ali McGraw than we expected.

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

We have a long-standing rule that we view male country musician like ball players, when you come to work, you show up with a hat on. But for McGraw, the only part of his get-up that was acceptable was the hat. And just because you mention a couple of Southern cities in your chorus does not get you a pass. E-gad.

And they honored Kenny Rogers with a lifetime achievement award and apparently since Kenny could not make the show, they brought a plastic mannequin worked to look just like Kenny on stage. That was nice... What? That was Kenny? Sweet buckets, the only thing that's had more work done than the Gambler is 27 North.

The did bring the reconstructed Kenny on stage - forget Steve Austin, Kenny has officially become the $6 million man with that much plastic surgery - and some of the pretty people sang a tribute, including Islands in the Stream, his famous duet with Dolly Parton.

That - and MT's awesome video post from Wednesday of the Little Drummer Boy with Bowie and Crosby - got us thinking about the Rushmore of Duets? Whatcha got? And we're willing to do an overall Duet Rushmore and a Country Duet Rushmore, so fire away.