Before we get to this week’s big game between Exxon and Fred’s Friendly Fillin’ Station of Athens, this update from the underworld of politics, finance and board meetings in darkened broom closets:
According to the bazillion billable hours of research and that old man strength of Mike Bowers, who used to be a state attorney general, kinda like the legal world’s version of Patton, but with a Mont Blanc and possibly and an ex-Playmate girlfriend, but that’s another story, DeKalb “interim” (or “very very interim”) CEO Lee May presides over a government that is “rotten to the core” and has engaged in “sinister conduct.” That includes a cozy relationship with a vendor who arranged for $6,500 in repairs at May’s home for a sewage backup, and I believe the word you’re looking for is: irony.
Lee responded by calling Bowers’ findings “laughable.” And “pitiful.” And then I think, “Your feet stink,” and then he jumped up down and held his breath and passed out. And then he turned the news conference over to his spiritual guide, Tim Lee of Cobb County, who said, “Everything my good friend Liberty Media, I mean Lee, is aboveboard here. And thanks to all of you for signing the guest list as you came in because that was actually a cleverly disguised funding measure for a $379 million bridge from a dumb soccer stadium in DeKalb to a wasteful baseball stadium in Cobb. Hah! Gotcha! I love public service! Hey Lee, let’s go to lunch — on them!”
The kicker to the DeKalb mess — I promise, I’ll get to football eventually — is that Lee hired Bowers for $850,000. “It was the biggest, “Thanks for the money, now watch me submarine your career” boomerang since Frank Wren signed B.J. Upton. (Sports transition.)
This week, Alabama, which seems to always win everything, plays Georgia, which seems to always win the Citrus Bowl. Georgia is favored. It’s the first time Alabama is an underdog since the 2009 SEC championship against Florida, and the Crimson Tide took that so well that they body slammed the Gators 32-13.
There are a lot of reasons for Georgia fans to be confident. Nick Chubb. Sony Michel. Malcolm Mitchell. Defense. But there are two reasons to wonder: 1) Saban, the Dark Lord, doesn’t lose a lot; 2) Greyson Lambert, the Dogs’ quarterback, was Montana-like against South Carolina and Southern, but, well, yeah.
Confidence isn’t at a premium here. But at least Georgia won’t be wearing black jerseys. I’ll take the leap: Dogs win and cover 2½.
The last time the Death Star was an underdog
Institutes of Higher Learning (Class Optional)
North Carolina at Georgia Tech: The Tar Heels excel at academic fraud. The Yellow Jackets have merely proven to be frauds on the field. Jackets cover 7½.
Notre Dame at Clemson: The Tigers haven’t played since a win over the remains of Bobby Petrino Sept. 17. So Dabo Swinney has had extra time to work on his game plan, which normally would lead me to pick the other team. But I’m just not feeling the Irish’s young quarterback in Death Valley. Tigers win a pick ’em.
San Jose State at Auburn: Interesting factoid: The pace of Auburn’s formally sped-up offense now ranks as one of the slowest, 98th in the nation, according to SportsSourceAnalytics, where I’m certain no employee has a date this weekend. But that and getting outscored 62-30 in two SEC games won’t matter against San Jose State. The 20 is covered.
Mississippi at Florida: Enjoy the ride, Rebels. There’s trouble coming in October and November. Gators go down in the swamp, Missy covers 7½.
Arkansas at Tennessee: Arkansas’s Bret Bielema and Tennessee’s Butch Jones are a combined 10-32 in games against Power 5 conference schools since coming to the SEC (hat tip: ESPN’s Chris Low). So this is kinda like the SEC’s Boston College-Wake Forest game. Vols covers 6½.
Louisville at N.C. State: The Wolfpack dismissed running back Shadrach Thornton after he hit a pedestrian with his moped and then left, and also because he already had three suspensions and two arrests and assaulted a female. So apparently N.C. State draws the line at scooter accidents. State wins but take Louisville and 4½.
South Carolina at Missouri: It’s the Battle of Columbias, although with Missouri suspending quarterback Maty Mauk and Steve Spurrier just trying to make it upright to the next senior-discounted Denny’s Grand Slam, I’d take the Ivy’s Columbia over either of these two. (Alas, they’re at Princeton this week.) Roosters in a slight upset (2½).
Pros and Cons
Texans at Falcons: Julio Jones is on pace for 181 receptions, 2,347 yards, 21 touchdowns and 19 surrenders in the Middle East. If you need Roddy White, he’ll be in the kitchen making a sandwich. Falcons cover 6½.
Cowboys at Saints: New Orleans is 0-3 for the first time since 2012, when Sean Payton was suspended for BountyGate. Payton has a similar incentive program this season but so far nobody has collected the $50 for making a tackle. Saints win but take Dallas and 5½.
Raiders at Bears: The 0-3 Bears began their strong playoff push this week by trading Jared Allen and Jonathan Bostic. They also would’ve traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel but the Braves beat them to it. Atlanta feels your pain, Chicago. Raiders cover 3.
Packers at Phony Niners: San Francisco is 0-3, Colin Kaepernick threw for 67 yards, four interceptions and two pick-sixes with two sacks last week and some 49ers fans are trying to sell their $2,000-to-$80,000 PSLs to other suckers at a discount. Everybody was so much happier when players were just getting arrested. Green Bay covers 8.
Jags at Colts: Andrew Luck has worse statistics (5 touchdowns, 7 interceptions) than Blake Bortles (5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions). Well. It’s clear SOMEBODY screwed up their first-round pick. Market correction: Indy covers 9.
Eagles at Natives: Update from Washington: Robert Griffin III still hasn’t dressed for a game. Update from Philadelphia: Chip Kelly still hasn’t coached one. Going with the upset: Washington (take the gift 3).
Alabama at Georgia: After nailing the Falcons’ pick last week to move to 3-1, Lilly showed up for work this week with agent Scott Boras on her leash, demanding a new contract and a full column takeover. I countered with a Milk Bone and extra poop bags and reminded her winter is around the corner. She settled. This week, Lilly’s choices were cheese’d pictures of Nick Saban and Mark Richt. She went to Richt’s picture first, sniffed, then went left. UPSET! Lilly picks Bama.
Scorecard and Sack Schultz update
“I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling. I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle.” — Mitch Hedberg
Last week: 8-5 straight up, 9-4 against the line (big money).
Bottom dollars: 34-16 straight up, 26-23-1 against the number
Sack Schultz update: Our overall leader is “Hammer63” of Alabama who is 51-9 and clearly cheating. Last week’s winners were John Saunders and Robert Blake at 14-1. You can still enter for great weekly and end-of-season prizes. Go to AJC.com/go/sackschultz2015.
•Recent ramblings Dawgnation: Georgia needs win over Alabama to alter perceptions Dawgnation: Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt for games like this AJC: Nationals are a more attractive mess than the Braves AJC: Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now Dawgnation: Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama Dawgnation: Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern AJC: Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons MyAJC: Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn AJC: Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it AJC: Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets? Dawgnation: Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance Dawgnation: Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’ Dawgnation: Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance AJC: Weekend Predictions: Tech over Irish, Georgia over South Carolina (but not by 17) Dawgnation: Tech has something Georgia would like — comfort at quarterback position MyAJC: An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons AJC: Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win Dawgnation: Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game Dawgnation: Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue AJC: Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain AJC: Poll: I say 9 wins for Falcons, national media mixed, what say you? MyAJC: Falcons’ late roster scramble not a good sign AJC: Fredi Gonzalez needs to make more of his losing hand Dawgnation: Lambert good but didn’t do enough to cement starting job Dawgnation: Lambert, lightning and the joy of Keith Marshall MyAJC: Kennesaw State’s little startup off to a dazzling start AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets roll, Spurrier escapes, Petrino goes down AJC: Falcons won Julio Jones trade but would like to forget 2012 draft Dawgnation: Greyson Lambert’s big test won’t come in opener, it will be later AJC: Hello, football: Thoughts on UGA, Tech, Kennesaw, both GSUs Dawgnation: It’s Lambert over Ramsey for now, but assume nothing for future at Georgia AJC: Falcons were never going to let Julio Jones get away