Before we get to this week’s game matching two teams that started 3-0 and were still national championship contenders in late September — and then, pop goes the bubble — this update from the world of weaseldom: Brian Kelly, go to your room.
In case you missed it during your seventh feeding at the stuffing-and-gravy trough or while plotting your strategy to wake up at 4:15 a.m. so you can save $1 on sweatpants and 12 cents on Play-Doh, the NCAA pounded Notre Dame over the head. The cheatin’ Irish were stripped of 21 wins in 2012 and 2013 for academic misconduct, which included a student trainer doing classwork for two football players and providing extra academic benefits for six others.
Had Notre Dame become a full-time member of the ACC in football, it probably could have avoided probation for 87 years. It seems to have worked for North Carolina.
Back to Kelly. He claims no knowledge and no culpability for the infractions: “Zero. Absolutely none.”
So a head coach says a trainer went rogue. And the overseer of every living thing in major college football program accepts no responsibility for an academic scandal, even though he’s an employee of an academic institution. Welcome to the moral high ground of South Bend.
That laughter you hear is from Brian VanGorder in Athens. He was fired by Kelly two months ago and Georgia just brought back its former defensive coordinator to help game plan for Tech. Georgia effectively has three former/current defensive coordinators in the building: Kirby Smart, Mel Tucker, VanGorder. Great. Each can take a man in the triple option.
So it’s the Dogs vs. the Jackets in the Schizophrenia Bowl. I can give you great reasons why either will lose. But Georgia has Nick Chubb and Isaiah McKenzie and looks just good enough on the defensive line to lead you to think they might be getting better.
And so, I accept all responsibility for this: Georgia wins (and covers four).
It’s that time again
Auburn at Alabama: The Tide has won 23 straight games and lost one at home game in the last four years (Ole Miss last season in Tuscaloosa). To all Auburn fans who’ve believed for weeks an upset is coming, may I suggest a soothing cup of hot cocoa and a reviewing of the Kick Six in 2013 because that’s as close as you’re getting to Iron Bowl serenity. Bammy covers 17.
Auburn fans: live in the past
South Carolina at Clemson: Will Muschamp on his team practicing on Thanksgiving: “Thanksgiving is a meal, not a day.” Not the way I eat. Not a good day for poultry in general. Tigers wins but take the Gamecocks and 24.
Florida at Florida State: The Gators tied the SEC record for the worst East champion since, well, last year. But they have a shot in this game if Jimbo Fisher doesn’t stop looking at listings on Zillow. Naw. Seminoles cover 7.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt: I had dreams of Florida losing last week and the Vols needing to win this game to win the East, then losing, because it would be such a Tennessee thing to do and I’m evil in that way. But half that may still happen. If you thought Butch Jones looked like a big Oompa Loompa before: Take the 7 and Vandy in a straight upset.
N.C. State at North Carolina: Something I did not know until I just looked it up: North Carolina won the first six meetings between the teams 204-0. Of course, the NCAA is still investigating the 1895 team for academic fraud. They’re a little slow. Heels cover 11½.
Boston College at Wake Forest: These two play each other because they’re the leftovers in rivalry week. They’re like the last two kids picked in a dodge ball game. (You can’t get deep research like this everywhere.) But I kinda like Wake. The Demonics cover 3.
B.C./Wake player seen near end of this
Kentucky at Louisville: Not hoops. Moving on.
Mississippi State at Mississippi: Dan Mullen said he is looking into how a 5-7 team can make it into a bowl. Well, for starters: Don’t go 5-7. Somebody egg that man. Hey, Egg Bowl! Rebels cover 7½.
Duke at Miami: Mark Richt’s record is about to be the same (8-4, 5-3) as last year’s Miami team. Fortunately, his name isn’t Al Golden. Canes cover 15.
Pros and Cons
Cardinals at Falcons: Just when everybody was jumping on the Falcons’ bandwagon, they inadvertently made that Wile E. Coyote mistake when he tied the TNT fuse to his big toe and they lost at Philly. Boom. Arizona’s a talented and desperate 4-5-1 team. Bad combo. But coming off a bye, home birds win and cover 4.
80 great moments in Falcons’ history
49ers at Dolphins: It’s a rematch of Super Bowl XIX (XXXII Roman years ago), matching Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino. I was there. Chiseled a hell of a game story on a tablet. Niners have lost nine straight, so I guess this qualifies Chip Kelly to be the next Browns’ coach. Fish cover 8.
Giants at Browns: Cleveland (0-11) has started five different quarterbacks in the last two seasons and 18 since 2007. If you can name at least half, you can start next week. New York covers 7.
Packers at Eagles: Green Bay has dropped four straight and is toast in the playoff race, and now there are stories about how Aaron Rodgers hasn’t spoken to his parents or brothers for two years and it’s all girlfriend Olivia Munn’s fault. Well, the good news is, Olivia Munn is way too hot to date lousy quarterbacks so that might not be a problem much longer. Eagles cover 3½.
Panthers at Raiders: The same Oakland team the Falcons beat in Week 2 has gone 7-1 since. This is playing right into the Raiders’ hands: Get everybody excited, sucker local politicians into a stadium deal and shelve the move to another city. The 1 Percent Suckers Playbook. Raiders win but take Carolina and 3½.
Patriots at Jets: Since returning from a suspension, Tom Brady has 16 touchdowns, 1 interception and a league-leading efficiency rating of 123.3. Imagine what’s going to happen when he gets into a groove. Pats win but take the Jets and 8.
Sack Schultz update
I’ve been sacked and I can’t get up. But congrats to last week’s winners, Alyssa Myers of Johns Creek and Calvin Vice of Tallahassee, Fla., who each went 13-2. There are several contenders for the two grand prizes — two tickets to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (college playoff semifinal) and a $2,500 Apple Vacation or $2,500 cash. To check out the standings, go to myajc.com/go/sackschultz2016
Last week: 12-4 straight up, 10-5-1 against the line.
Bottom dollars: 112-51-1 straight up, 79-81-4 against the line.
Lilly’s pick: Lilly returns this week for serving a suspension for a dreadful losing streak and refusing to take performance-enhancing Milkbones. Her choices this week were cheese’d pictures of Uga (left) and Buzz (right). Lilly went left: Dogs win.
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