Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes as he is pressured by Baltimore Ravens defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91), center, and linebacker Jaylon Ferguson (45) in the first half of an NFL football game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Fab 4 picks

We started quickly last week and stumbled to the finish line. Notre Dame and Central Michigan won early. Oklahoma got cancelled, the Egg Bowl left us on the bad sides of the spread and the total.

The there was quite possibly the worst pick I've made — maybe ever — with the under 56.5 in the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech game. The final — OSU winning 50-44 — was the complete opposite of a bad beat.

So it goes.

Now maybe the craziest thing in the craziest of seasons comes some more craziness.

Oddness part 1: LSU is the worst reigning national champ ever and is catching right at 30, making the Tigers the largest underdog for a defending national champion ever. And does anyone see any way to back the Tigers, who got routed by an Auburn team that could not stay on the field with this Alabama bunch?

Oddness part 2: Texas Tech just surrendered 50 points and is now a 23-point favorite. Ah, Kansas. Of teams that have played more than four games, the two surest things in college football has been Indiana, which is 6-0 against the spread and Les Miles' Fightin' Hawks, who are bagel-and-eight against the number.

Ultimate oddness: The Akron Arths, coached by buddy and former UTC coach Tom Arth are back in action this week. Akron is 0-16 since Coach Arth went back to Ohio, and the Zips are 2-14 against the number in those games. Yes, that's crazy. Now know this: Akron is a 2.5 favorite this week over Bowling Green.
To the picks, because pickers gotta pick, right? (To that end, here's my favorite Alabama song — My Home's in Alabama — which reminds me of a fun story, and who doesn't have time for a fun story right? The Mrs. and I got hitched in Eclectic, Ala., on Lake Martin. So we needed to get a marriage license in The Yellowhammer State. So we went to Fort Payne, the home of the Alabama crew. We filled out the paperwork and got to one of the final questions: "Are you related?" Of course that gave us pause, and a giggle, but apparently that did not void a marriage license, because the next question after "Are you related?" with Yes and No boxes was, "If so, how?" So there's that.)

Let's pick  

I will ride with Alabama minus-29 and Texas Tech over Kansas and lay the 23. And to make it interesting — because who other than family members could watch Akron-Bowling Green without a little action on it — I'm backing Akron and laying the field goal. War Arths, and yes, it's a heart pick, but this year, the head picks are not exactly rolling, you know?

Purdue-Nebraska over 61. Two offensive coaches and two disinterested defenses hmmmmmm. Points, friends. Lots and lots of points.

Indiana plus-14.5 against Wisconsin and under 46.5. This is a Tom Allen pick, because yes, even without star QB Michael Pennix, the Hoosiers are inspired and capable.

Kansas State plus-8 over Texas. The Longhorns had their season goals crushed last week with some terrible coaching decisions from Tom Herman and are out of the Big 12 title chase. There have been whispers about Herman's hot seat and whether Urban Meyer is headed to Austin.

Oklahoma State minus-2.5 over TCU. Yes, the Gundys burned me last week, in some parts because I was unaware of some of the State players returning from injuries.

Last week: 2-3 against the spread (40 percent)

This season: 29-31 against the spread (48.3 percent)


Speaking of wagering

OK, we offered the conversation earlier this week about résumé and roster in terms of college football positioning.

We can all look at the stats. Records matter, and they should. The number of games will matter for THE Ohio State, and it should.

That said, the news that Barry Alvarez is now saying THE Big Ten should look at ways to help THE Ohio State get enough games to get into THE playoff makes a lot of sense.

That is especially true considering the fiscal hardships every college program and conference will be facing in the coming months.

But when it comes to rosters, who can we trust better than Vegas, right? Well, Chris Andrews, a renowned Vegas lines-maker, offered his view on where the No. 14-ranked BYU Cougars would be viewed in the betting world against the 13 teams ranked ahead of them.

The numbers may surprise you.  

Alabama minus-17 over BYU;

The Ohio State minus-9 over BYU;

Clemson minus-9 over BYU;

Oklahoma minus-5 over BYU;

Florida minus-4 over BYU;

Notre Dame minus-2 over BYU;

Georgia pick 'em against BYU;

Cincinnati pick 'em against BYU;

BYU minus-1 over Texas A&M;

BYU minus-2 over Northwestern;

BYU minus-2 over Indiana;

BYU minus-2 over Iowa State;

BYU minus-9 over Miami.



Harsh reminder

There were several reminders that were clear and distinct from the Wednesday afternoon NFL scrimmage between Ravens and Steelers.

Pittsburgh's defense at full strength is downright salty. More on that in a moment.

As for the big picture, does anyone have any doubt that Roger Goodell and the league are going to use their Shield and charge to the finish line? Denver without QBs. Baltimore-Pittsburgh scheduled-rescheduled-rescheduled-and-rescheduled again.    

Which brings us to the game between the Steelers and the COVID-depleted Ravens. It was physical, and at times ugly and did we mention physical?

The only downside was the injury to Bud Dupree, who reportedly tore his ACL late in the Steelers' win.

It's a shame big picture for the Steelers elite defense because Dupree gives them an edge difference-maker opposite TJ Watt, who is not only the best Watt but is a contender for NFL defensive player of the year.

It's also a shame for Dupree, who did not sign a long-term extension and was playing this season on a one-year franchise tag. That is a painful injury — physically and fiscally.


This and that

— College hoops is everywhere this week, and you know what? Without fans, fringe college hoops programs should embrace the matinee approach. Why not? More people than ever are working from home, and for some of us, we are way more likely to watch random midday college hoops than nighttime college hoops. And while we are here, Baylor looked great Wednesday.  

— Speaking of the Steelers, that tenacious Pittsburgh D — a group that I likely overdrafted back in early September — delivered big time for me yesterday in fantasy. Down more than 11 heading into Wednesday's surreal matinee, the early pick six and the interchanging QB carousel allowed us to come all the way back, topple Coty Wamp and secure a playoff spot.

— Large NBA trade that moved more than $80 million in annual salary and in the grand scheme of the league and its outcomes in the postseason, it had as much meaning as Chas deciding between his gray cardigan or his blue cardigan. (Go blue Chas. Hey, that works on multiple levels.) Russell Westbrook heads to D.C. to shoot 34 percent and post Russ-diculous numbers in the 32-11-9 neighborhood, and John Wall heads to Houston to electrify in transition and to watch James Harden's half-court plan of dribble-dribble-dribble-dribble-dribble-dribble-ball fake-lean-in-3.

— Speaking of the NBA, Anthony Davis signed a five-year, $190-million extension. Wowser. Side note dipped in crazy sauce: With the obscene money the obscenely talented NBA superduperstars get, paying Anthony Davis $38 million a year actually is a pretty good bargain considering that annual salary would put him between Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin as the eighth highest-paid player in the league for 2020-21.

— Here are three former Presidents — Clinton, W, and Obama — imploring Americans to take the COVID vaccine when it becomes available. Amen, fellas.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's picks column from today's TFP.

— You know the rules, too. (Or should it be two? If that becomes a multiple choice, then is it too a or two b, that is the question.) Where were we? Yes, the rules, here's TFP sports editor and high school sports guru Stephen Hargis on the three Chattanooga-area teams one win from a state title this weekend. And for bonus, extra holiday goodness, Hargis' preview is accompanied by Mark Wiedmer's outstanding artwork. Man, Weeds has got some drawing skills.

— Yes, we are obligated to give Alex Anthopoulous the benefit of the doubt because dude has made right decision after right decision during his tenure running the Braves. That said, was anyone else puzzled with the decision to let Adam Duvall become a free agent? So it goes. Here's a list of the MLB players who were not tendered contracts by their clubs.  


Today's question

It's a Thursday. That much is true.

Big picture conversation: Will Urban Meyer coach again?

Which BYU line above surprises you the most and if you ere forced to bet on one of them, which one would you pick?

As for today, Dec. 3, let's review.

Julianne Moore is 60, Brendan Fraser is 52 and Ozzy Osbourne is 72.

Super Bowl Shuffle is 35 today. Yes, 35. Few teams were as mythical as the '85 Bears. 27 Yankees. 95 Bulls. 72 Dolphins. Not many.

What's the Rushmore of songs connected with sports team, and does the Super Bowl Shuffle make it?
Go, and remember the mailbag.