Friday, September 24, 2010

shameless promotion (2.01), week iv

Editor's Note: This column runs in today's edition of The Daily Home.
Stop with the color coordinating already
Can we please do away with this idiotic “color” fad in college sports?

You know what I’m talking about: the thing where people tell their fans what colors to wear to certain games. I’m not certain where this trend started, but it needs to end and it needs to end quickly.

The first place I remember this happening was at South Carolina, when Gamecock fans planned a “blackout” of then top-ranked Florida for an ESPN night game (I’m sure it started before this — this is just the first one I remember). Steve Spurrier’s Gators were undoubtedly intimidated, but managed to scrape by, 54-17.

That hasn’t stopped other schools’ fan bases from trying similar ploys. Penn State famously conducts “white-outs” at Beaver Stadium; Notre Dame occasionally has its students wear green (or gold or whatever it is Notre Dame wears); even Auburn got into the act last Saturday vs. Clemson with “True Blue” Saturday (as opposed to its normal fare of “All Auburn All Orange” … or something).

Maybe the most hilarious two examples of this phenomenon came in Alabama road games: in 2008 and 2009, when Georgia and then Mississippi State announced “blackouts” of the Tide. The two programs lost those games by a combined score of 72-34.

Setting aside whether the ploy does any good (it doesn’t), isn’t it just dumb? Since when does the color in the stands have an effect on anything?

Unless, you know, they were able to dress in a way that made them look like a giant Lord Voldemort. That, ladies and gentlemen, would definitely affect the game.

Anyway, on to the picks. Last week we finished a milquetoast 3-3, with Auburn’s failed cover sealing the push. That brings us to 9-9 for the season.

I’m declaring a special “black-and-white-and-read-all-over-out” for this week. Let’s see if it gets us anywhere.

(Home teams in caps.)

TENNESSEE (-14) over UAB: Dramatic wins rarely go as unnoticed as UAB’s last-second desperation heave that beat rival Troy a week ago at Legion Field. After winning that game, does it even matter what happens this week against a wounded Vols squad?

OLE MISS (-2.5) over Fresno St.: On paper, it makes utterly no sense that the Rebels — whose 28-14 loss to Vanderbilt a week ago was the SECOND most embarrassing loss they’ve had this season (and we’re only 3 weeks into it!) — should beat a giant-killer like Fresno. But that’s the thing with Houston Nutt’s crazy train: you have to be prepared for the unexpected. So give me the Rebels and three touchdowns. Why not?

Florida (+14) over KENTUCKY: Unreported so far among the tales of the Gators’ offensive woes: their defense is still awfully good.

Georgia (PUSH) over MISSISSIPPI ST.: OK, so here’s why I’m not ready to give up on the ’10 UGA team just yet:
• A.J. Green is eventually coming back.
• Their schedule gets considerably easier after this.
• You forget this now, but we actually were ready to bury Richt three years ago (in 2007), after the ‘Dogs took a pounding on the road vs. Tennessee, then sweated out a tense win over Vandy. They responded by ripping Florida, thumping Auburn and finishing with 10 wins. Not saying that will happen here, but I’m willing to give them another week.

(Just one more week though, OK? You blow this and you’re dead to me, impossible good looks or no.)

LSU (-8.5) over West Virginia: A game with as many fascinating sub-plots as it has teeth (that’s a joke, see, because … oh, never mind). The fan bases will repeatedly yell expletives at one another and may possibly riot. The coaches are both insane and love living on the edge.
But LSU’s the better football team. And they should pull away late.

Alabama (-7) over ARKANSAS: Look, I wanted to pick the Hogs here. I really did. They’re coming off a big win, and they’re at home with a high-powered offense. Compare that to ‘Bama, whose defense, to this point, can’t rush the passer, stop the run, defend the pass or make sure tackles. And yes, Arkansas’ “red-out” is ridiculous, but it shows a sense of purpose: they need this game to prove they’re an SEC elite, and not just a member of the “they could be dangerous” second-tier.

Except, there’s this: Alabama is still the champs. And it makes no sense to pick against them until someone proves otherwise.

AUBURN (-3) over South Carolina: Yes, it’s fair to call Auburn “lucky” thus far: they had no business beating Clemson on Saturday. Yes, it’s fair to wonder what Auburn’s going to do vs. a Gamecock defense that will be the best they’ve faced thus far. And yes, the coaching matchup looks heavily one-sided in Carolina’s favor.

So why pick Auburn? The night atmosphere last week at Jordan-Hare inspired me. I see them gutting this one out, just the same as they did with Clemson.

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