Welcome back to Weekend Predictions, the nation’s only investment newsletter that dares to ask the question: When a team leads 56-0 and the coach who’s ahead calls timeout with only seconds left to seemingly freeze the opponent’s kicker before a field-goal attempt, does that make the coach some indecipherable, unimaginable Napoleonic blob of green goo, like what happens when you forget about the leftover chicken lo mein in the fridge and it gets discovered six months later, so when you open it that natural reaction is, “AAAAAAGH!!!”
Meet James Franklin: the lowest of mein.
Last week, Penn State team had a 56-0 lead over Georgia State. But Franklin wasn’t done pillaging. The Panthers, harmless peaceful creatures this season like the late residents of Alderaan, were lining up for a 31-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds left, clinging to hope that they could gain some dignity to pair with their $1.2 million check they received to play at Penn State.
Franklin would have none of that. He called timeout. Some believe he was trying to “freeze” GSU kicker Brandon Wright (who later missed). So Franklin was ripped. He has denied that was his intent. He said he just wanted to get the right backup players on the field to defend the field goal.
Yes. That was his defense. The wrong backups were on the field. For a meaningless field-goal attempt. In a 56-0 game. With 11 seconds left.
I would’ve preferred if Franklin said he was just trying to freeze the kicker. It would’ve been a simpler rationalization for a move that regardless was going to make him look like he was two tacos short of a combination plate, or just plain psychotic.
In more sane quarters of college football this week, unless you count Todd Grantham, Georgia plays host to Mississippi State this week. The other Bulldogs are 3-0, which sounds a lot better than saying they’ve beaten Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech and Ed Orgeron.
Jake Fromm is still in charge of Georgia’s offense, but Georgia’s defense is still in charge of Georgia’s season. This will be another test, though I suspect not as big as some believe. And if it comes down to a field goal, no worries: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen won’t call timeout. He’ll just let Grantham, his defensive coordinator, give the choke sign to Georgia’s kicker (Google.)
But it won’t come down to a kick. Dogs win and cover 6.
College Value Meals
(Buy any 3 games and pick up a copy of, “Karmac Athiests.” Chapter 1: “We’ll be fine,” said Baylor. “Hey, is that a trai…”)
Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech: Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said the Yellow Jackets play “dangerous football,” throwing illegal chop blocks. This is what a coach says when he’s trying to sway officials and his team has allowed 92 points in consecutive losses and he doesn’t want to say, “We stink.” Jackets cover 8.
Alabama at Vanderbilt: Vandy is 3-0, a rare time in history that prompted one player, Nifae Lealao, to say after the last win, “When you come to our house we show you how to play some SEC ball. Alabama, you’re next.” Oh, dear. Bama covers 112 (also 18½).
Georgia State at Charlotte: Charlotte lost last week to North Carolina A&T. Dude, when you lose to any A&T, you’ve got problems. Panthers win a pick ’em.
Florida at Kentucky: The Gators went 2-3 in road games last season. They lost their season opener to Michigan in Arlington, Texas. The good news for Jim McElwain: He’s becoming pretty popular in a lot of cities outside of Gainesville, which could come in handy. Gators cover 1½.
UMass at Tennessee: On first down and 63 yards to go with :09 left at Florida, Tennessee forgot to play prevent defense. To Vols fans: I would like to apologize for every Phil Fulmer joke I ever made. Sort of. Tennessee covers 27½.
Syracuse at LSU: It just occurred to me that when the snow melts in Syracuse, it looks a lot like Baton Rouge. Not a compliment. Tigers win, but take Team L’Orange and 21½.
Baylor at Oklahoma: Baylor has lost to Liberty, Texas-San Antonio and Duke. If administrators had a soul, they’d let everybody transfer without penalty. Then again, if they had a soul, they probably wouldn’t be 0-3. Sooners cover 27½.
Louisiana Tech at South Carolina: Gamecocks QB Jake Bentley tried to draw a penalty call with a hilariously bad flop against Kentucky. The ref didn’t fall for it. Just to be fair, South Carolina’s flop was totally legit. Foghorns cover 7½.
But Bentley not as good as this guy
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington, Texas): It’s Bret Bielema vs. Kevin Sumlin. CareerBuilder.com should have bought naming rights for this one. Aggies cover 2½.
Duke at North Carolina: Naw. I’ll wait until March.
Boston College at Clemson: Clemson scheduled Wake Forest as its homecoming opponent and not Boston College. Steve Addazio may want to put that on his resume. Tigers cover 34.
NFL Snack Pack
Falcons at Lions: The last time the Falcons played Detroit, it was in London, they blew a 21-0 lead and Mike Smith coached himself out of a job with a series of bizarre time-management decisions. I’m getting the strangest sense of deja vu. Birds stay unbeaten, cover 3.
Saints at Panthers: New Orleans is allowing about 513 yards and 33 points per game. They are like the Swiss Army, defending with corkscrews, baby scissors and the plastic toothpick. Carolina covers 5.
Browns at Colts: Just over two years removed from the AFC title game and 14 playoff berths in 16 seasons (including a Super Bowl ring), Indianapolis is an underdog, at home, to Cleveland. Sorry. I don’t believe in Sasquatch. Colts win, and give me the 1½.
Cowboys at Cardinals: Ezekiel Elliott quit on a play after an interception against Denver. So now it turns out he may be a quitter and a felon, although Dallas owner Jerry Jones generally doesn’t mind the felon part. Dallas covers 3.
Sack Schultz Update
Bad week in “Sack Schultz” contest picks. I went 7-6, and that’s all I want to talk about it. My three-week score of 31-12 ranks 34th, but I still don’t want to talk about it. Congrats to “Big Picker” from Iowa and “Falcons” from Colorado who lead with 35 wins, and are cheating. To enter for weekly prizes and the grand prize of a $2,500 vacation, go to AJC.com/sackschultz2017.
Column scorecard and Lilly’s pick
Last week: 10-3 straight up, 7-6 against the line
Toteboard: 29-7 straight up, 21-14-1 against the line.
Lilly’s pick: The mutt is 2-1. This week, it’s Dogs (Georgia) vs. Dogs (Mississippi State), otherwise known as Lilly nirvana. Pictures of Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen were cheese’d. Lilly went left … to Smart. Georgia wins.
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