Hello and welcome back to Weekend Predictions, where we try to separate fact from fiction and actual evidence from tattered movie reels, which can be a problem when Notre Dame fans are still quoting Ronald Reagan lines from “Knute Rockne, All-American” instead of, “NCAA: You Cheatin’ Swine,” or the Las Vegas police department is mistaking Michael Bennett for a fire-breathing Cyclops wearing a slacks and a plaid shirt. (Hey, it happens. Honest mistake. Here’s a free drink coupon for Circus Circus.)
This week, Georgia goes to Notre Dame.
For the record, that is not Jesus signaling touchdown on the side of a building on campus. It’s far more likely he’s throwing up his arms saying, “What? You lost at home to Duke! Oy, there goes my back!”
This is not the Fighting Irish of Rockne. Or “The Gipper.” Or Rudy. Or Lou Holtz, who was contemptible and cheated, but at least he won.
This is the Notre Dame of Brian Kelly. The 2016 season opened after a bunch of player arrests and closed with a record of 4-8. That stands as the fifth worst mark in the school’s 111-year history. Even Gerry Faust went 5-6. Blow that out your Irish echoes.
NCAA fish-slapped Notre Dame with academic-fraud charges, forcing the school to vacate several wins from 2012 (BCS finalist) and 2013.
You, sir, have just smeared the memories of Rockne, Gipp, Leahy, Lujack and Hornung. Even “Lucky” from the Lucky Charms box hangs his head in shame.
Georgia fans are approaching this week realistically. They believe the Bulldogs will win 27-3 and go on to finish 14-1. Jake Fromm will then levitate the team bus. Once you’ve come off the bench to beat Appalachian State, there aren’t many challenges left.
Where was I? Oh yes, reality.
This is a tough one. But Georgia can win this with defense and a running game. Or they can lose it big, but I think that’s more like in a black-and-white movie. Take the four points, but Dogs win in a straight upset.
He got out of bed and became president
Falcons at Bears: The Falcons have lost only one of their past seven games. See? You can do anything with numbers. Well, not all numbers, but there’s no need to go into the other numbers now because they’ve already been dissected, body-slammed and admitted into the Randall P. McMurphy House of Those Gone Bye-Bye. Oh look, Kyle Shanahan. New year. Breathe deep. Falcons cover 7.
Respite for those who can’t get past 28-3
Seahawks at Packers: These are two fashionable NFC picks to go to the Super Bowl. But I’m assuming somebody in the Las Vegas Police Department has money on the Packers, not the Seahawks. Green Bay covers 3.
Saints at Vikings: Adrian Peterson returns to Minnesota, and this is how he feels about it: “Going back to Minnesota, playing the Vikings? Yeah, I want to stick it to them.” First 20,000 fans receive DFCS T-shirts. Vikings cover 3½.
Steelers at Browns: Cleveland went 4-0 in the preseason and fans celebrated by making, “Undefeated Preseason Champs” T-shirts. Actually, the most promising thing about the Browns’ preseason was they cut Brock Osweiler. Pittsburgh covers 9.
Giants at Cowboys: Dallas generally has been the most overrated team going into any season in the past 20 years. I see no reason to stop now. Take the 3½ and New York in a straight upset.
Panthers at 49ers: OK, Super Bowl aside, Shanahan is a great offensive coordinator who made a couple of really bad decisions. But he steps into an organization that is 7-25 in the past two seasons and is putting its trust in Brian Hoyer, who’ll quarterback his sixth team in seven seasons. Cover your eyes. Panthers cover 5½.
Blah Game Week
Jacksonville State at Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson is upset his team has to play five days after the Tennessee game against a highly ranked FCS team while Jacksonville State is coming off a bye. After losing a game in which his team had 655 yards in offense, you can understand why he’d prefer a couch. But come on, man. It’s Jax State. Yellow Jackets cover 19½.
Auburn at Clemson: Dabo Swinney not only won a national championship, he has flipped a series once dominated by Auburn (34-11-2), winning three consecutive. Which makes you wonder: Are Auburn fans more worried about this game or the potential of Swinney “going home to momma” to replace Saban at some point? The home Tigers cover 5.
Florida Atlantic at Wisconsin: Lane Kiffin said last week that Alabama would’ve beaten Clemson if he had called plays. Two days later, his new team got blown out by Navy. This is what happens when the three-Twinkie sugar rush wears off. Badgers cover 31½.
Fresno State at Alabama: Fresno State is coming off a 66-0 win over Incarnate Word. I was thinking of cutting off that sentence after “66-0 win” to scare Alabama fans, but the ability to Google killed so many practical jokes. Bammy covers 44.
Northwestern at Duke: Nah.
Louisville at North Carolina: Quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for 378 yards and rushed for 101 with two touchdowns last week, but Louisville needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat Purdue. Fortunately, Jackson’s coach won’t be following him to the NFL. Cardinals win, but take North Carolina and 10.
Nicholls at Texas A&M: The Aggies blew a 44-10 lead and, worse, blew a 44-10 lead to a Jim Mora-coached team, prompting a Texas A&M regent to go on Facebook and declare: “Kevin Sumlin needs to GO.” Even worse, he unfriended Sumlin on Facebook. This won’t calm things but: Aggies win and cover 40.
Sack Schultz Update
I went 11-4 last week. Ten contestants went 14-1, with “CMRA1” of Georgia coming in as one of the two tiebreaker winners. Calm down. It’s early. I got this. It’s not too late to enter for the $2,500 vacation grand prize and weekly prizes. Go go to AJC.com/sackschultz2017.
Scorecard and Lilly’s pick
Progress report: 7-3 straight up, 6-3-1 against the line.
Lock of the week: Kwikset.
Lilly’s pick: Lilly foolishly picked Florida State over Alabama last week, I suspect just because she was standing closer to that piece of salami. Her work ethic isn’t what it used to be. This week, we salami’d pictures of a goofy looking leprechaun on the left and Uga on the right. Lilly took her time, then went right. Dog picks Dogs.
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- Expect Falcons’ defense to take significant jump this season
- Quarterback aside, Georgia’s season comes down to Smart and resilience
- Fromm gets his chance but assumptions about Georgia’s QBs premature
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- Other than injury, thoughts of replacing Jacob Eason are silly
- Alabama looks like legit No. 1 but Saban teams have been here before
- Power now too spread out to expect SEC’s long reign will be replicated
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- Ryan’s deal will eclipse Stafford’s ($135 million) but not Rodgers’
- Weekend Predictions (sound check): ‘Sack Schultz 2017’ now open!
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- Poll: How many starters do Braves have for next season? 1, 2 … any?
- Falcons’ history shows no correlation between preseason, regular season
- Falcons’ defense should benefit from Poe’s long journey to NFL
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- UGA’s Kevin Kisner continues his rise to top of PGA leaderboard
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- In world of dollars and sense, will Braves raise player budget?