According to suburban legend (defined as Googling outside of the perimeter), Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as “Samhain” (pronounced, “sah-win,” because Celtics couldn’t spell) and is celebrated at the end of the harvest season, when the worlds of the living and the dead overlap, and mayhem ensues, and the dead rise (except B.J. Upton), and desperate housewives dress up like Lola and Candi on Stages 1 and 2, and evil spirits roam neighborhoods and sometimes go on to coach at Louisville, or get recruited by Florida State, or become president of the NCAA.
(I know. That was a long explanation. But you get candy, so shut up.)
Georgia fans hoped to celebrate the return of Todd Gurley this Halloween. Instead they knocked on the NCAA’s door and all they got was a stale leftover Peep from Easter and an old Willie Martinez game plan. (Cue, evil NCAA laugh.)
A sign from above? Below? Maybe just whatever dark corner of the universe Gurley was hiding in for two years and signing autographs for money after he was told, by, lemme see, one unofficial count … 5,397 TIMES, “DON’T DO THAT!”
So now he sits for two more games while Georgia travels down the Highway to Hell to Jacksonville. Well, used to be Hades. After losing 18 of 21 to Florida, the last three years have been candy week for the Bulldogs.
Florida coach Will Muschamp went 0-for-4 in this series as a Georgia player. He may go 0-for-4 as Florida’s coach. Now that’s a trick.
Forget the NCAA. When Gurley’s extended suspension was announced, the point spread in Las Vegas didn’t budge: Dogs by 13. Something else: The sportsbook that operates in three major casinos has made UGA a 5-1 favorite to win the national championship (ahead of Alabama at 11-2 and the Florida State Correctional Institute at 7-1).
Don’t celebrate yet. A lot of scar tissue in this game. But the spirits speak: Dogs win (but take Florida and 13).
Virginia at Georgia Tech: Sometimes I think there are hallways at Bellevue that see fewer mood swings than witnessed in a Georgia Tech season. Beat Virginia Tech and Miami, lose to Duke and North Carolina, hang 56 on Pitt. Lithium, anyone? Jackets cover 3½.
Georgia State at Appalachian State: Huge grudge match! Georgia State athletic director Charlie Cobb came from Appalachian State! OK. Not really. But when two teams are a combined 3-12, you’re the Bearded Lady of football attractions. App. State covers 10½.
Ticket to GSU-App. State also gets you admission to this!
Auburn at Ole Missy: Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace said the play-calling in the loss to LSU was too conservative, which is a really good way to endear yourself to the coaching staff. He’s the last to realize he’s not Roger Staubach. Give me Auburn and 2 and in a straight upset.
Arkansas at Missy State: Bret Bielema is 0-12 against the SEC and 7-1 against other teams. The good news: He has narrowed his list of conferences for his next job. Bulldogs cover 10½.
Tennessee at Sinking Carolina: The Gamecocks threw a scare into Auburn, which I guess qualifies as a season highlight for Steve Spurrier. If he can’t win two of the next four games, there will be no bowl for him. Another great endorsement of preseason rankings (Poultry was No. 9). But SC covers 7.
Kentucky at Missouri: This is the Wildcats’ third shot to become bowl eligible. Problem: They’ve already played UT Martin. Tigers cover 6½.
FREE TO AUTOGRAPH
Falcons: They’re off. There is a God.
When the Falcons have a bye…
Manning at Belichick: Peyton Manning is 7-12 in his career against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but he has 22 touchdowns with three interceptions this season and the Broncos have scored 149 points in the last four games. Trend-buster: Broncos cover 3.
N.Y. Jets at Kansas City: Michael Vick off the bench this season has zero touchdowns, one interception, four fumbles, seven sacks and a 48.2 rating — and he’s still better than Geno Smith, who last week went 2-for-8 with three interceptions and had the Blutarskyesque rating of zero.point.zero. Chiefs cover 9½.
Flounder didn’t take news well
Tampa Bay at Cleveland: Wonder if Johnny Manziel ever thought his autograph would be worth less than Brian Hoyer’s? Brownies cover 6½.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh: Ah, what football was like before offensive coordinators played with toys and players had offseason jobs accompanying shady businessmen in nice suits for late-night business deals on loading docks. And then Madden happened. Arrrgh. Steelers win a pick ’em.
Oakland at Seattle: Factoid: The Seahawks (4-3) already have more losses than in last year’s preseason, regular season and playoffs combined (20-3). But they play a Mountain West team. Seahawks win but take the Raiders and 15.
Arizona at Dallas: The Cowboys are funny again. They lost to Washington and then a Dallas news station got a hold of Joseph Randle’s shoplifting arrest video, in which he cracks several dumb jokes, offers one female officer $100 for a massage and wonders why his height and weight aren’t listed on his mugshot. Cop’s response: “This is not a damn trading card.” Winner! Cowboys cover 4.
If you’re arrested, don’t do this
“Luck never gives; it only lends.” — Swedish Proverb
Last week: 8-5 straight up, 5-8 against the spread.
Totes: 77-32 straight up, 48-61 against the line.
Lock of the week: Deadbolt.
Sack Schultz update: Can’t call this race: 10 folks tied at the top with 104 wins, 19 others at 103. Last week’s winners, Jeff Moore of Moreland, Ga., and Jeff Hillard of Holton, Kansas, each went 15-0. More info at AJC.com/go/SackSchultz2014
Lilly’s pick: Pooch is 6-3 (straight up, because she’s too much of a kitty to pick against the spread). This week, she darted for cheese’d picture of Uga over Albert the Gator.
— AJC: Rules are dumb but that’s no excuse for Todd Gurley — MyAJC: Mark Richt deserves credit for holding Georgia together — AJC: NCAA mum but Muschamp expects Gurley to play vs. Florida — AJC: Will Arthur Blank make move with Mike Smith (and reader poll)? — MyAJC: Georgia Tech takes advantage of Pitt’s fumble-fest — AJC: Short takes: Georgia Tech 56 (points), Pittsburgh 6 (lost fumbles) — AJC: LIVE: Tech’s defense must improve vs. Pitt — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons lose, Jackets pull upset, Dogs in prayer circle — AJC: Will a fresh perspective elude Braves? — MyAJC: Todd Gurley’s return would raise Georgia’s ceiling again — AJC: Why did NCAA say yes to Mo’ne Davis but no to Todd Gurley? — MyAJC: Why playoff picture looks good for SEC (and Georgia) — MyAJC: Here’s good news: Falcons are leaving country — MyAJC: Georgia Tech continues to stomp on hope — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, Jameis enabled — AJC: Georgia dealing with reality, FSU avoiding it — MyAJC: Does NCAA care that public sentiment favors Gurley, athletes? — MyAJC: Georgia’s response heard loud and clear — MyAJC: NCAA needs to realize amateurism is dead — AJC: Minus Gurley, Dogs must overcome flaws — AJC: With Gurley suspended, is Georgia done? — MyAJC: If Gurley broke rules, that’s on him — AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley, no Dogs, no kidding — AJC: Blank stands by Smith, Dimitroff. What say you? — MyAJC: Arthur Blank won’t give Falcons’ mandates, speculate on future — AJC: Falcons have turned this week into a must-win game — MyAJC: Georgia Tech’s season may be turning into something special — AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over Miami, starting with … defense? — AJC: Tech has a chance to take charge in ACC Coastal — AJC: Braves should have left Gonzalez decision to new GM