Happy New Year’s Day! Hit the Pedialyte, grab a hearty breakfast, perhaps a shower beer, and get ready to regroup.
There are just four games today, but the SEC is in three of them, plus the annual humiliation of Wisconsin when it faces a team with any sort of speed!
Here’s your schedule, why to watch, how to do so, and — should you be so inclined — where to toss your ducats. We were 4-1 on the 30th, 4-1 yesterday, and there’s a great chance to make hay today with these favorable lines.
All Times are in God’s Right and Proper Central Standard
No. 18 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Auburn -7
Minnesota struggled away from Minneapolis this year and particularly struggled against powerful defensive teams. Had the annual James Franklin Road Gaffe not arisen, then this would be just another overhyped team from the Big 10’s crappy division. The Gophers can play some defense, and they’re pretty sound on both sides of the ball. But, Auburn is just a different beast athletically and speed-wise. Gus has a good bowl record for a reason: he actually schemes and coaches to win these games, not necessarily using the time for the next season’s prep. Row, Row, Row your ass back to Twin Cities, PJ: The Tigers are coming. And, even if they don’t completely show up, they’re bringing Auburn Jesus with them. I have no idea how UMN will, indeed can, score enough here. Auburn 24 Minnesota 16
No. 14 Michigan +7 vs. No. 13 Alabama
There is no way there are a full dozen teams in the country as good, or better, than the Alabama Crimson Tide. And Michigan certainly isn’t in that class. The Tide will exploit the most glaring aspects of the UM defense today for a full 60 minutes: lack of overall team speed, Dax Hill playing out of position, ghastly linebackers, Don Brown’s inability to simultaneously cover slot receivers while also blitzing 80% of the time. Godspeed with that. This is the best offensive line in the country, one of the deepest backfields, the best receiving corps in the country, and among its fastest teams. I do think Josh Gattis will take several deep shots on a Tide defense that plays aggressive and will absolutely look to exploit Alabama’s thin and babyfaced linebacking corps. So, look for a few points there. But, it’s not enough — not nearly enough. Nick Saban — the product of Earl Bruce (OSU) and Fritz Perls (Michigan State) — has historical reasons to dislike Michigan; five years of Jim Harbaugh’s antics have only brought real, personal animus to that disdain. And, after the way last year’s coaching staff imploded (thanks in no small measure to the childishness of Dan Enos and Josh Gattis), there’s a little point to prove here to Michigan’s offensive coordinator. If Alabama shows up on both sides of the ball, this one becomes a rout early. Nevertheless, after some Shea Patterson turnovers, it will end that way. Please kick to Jaylen Waddle. I dare you, cowards. Alabama 44 Michigan 20
No. 8 Wisconsin -3 vs. No. 6 Oregon
I’m just really not sure what the oddsmakers see here. The Wisco passing game is still illusory, and the one-dimensional offense relies on Jonathan Taylor and a strong defensive effort to bail them out week after week. The problem is that Oregon has among the best offensive lines in the game, a ton of speed all over the field, some of the best pure talent (even if being schemed poorly) in the secondary, and a very balanced offense. They can shut down the run. They can exploit one dimensional teams. They can beat teams with their athleticism. In a game of matchups, this is just a bad one for the Badgers. The Pac 12 gets some redemption today as the Ducks spring the upset. That said, Jonathan Taylor is going to get his...it just won’t be enough. Oregon 31 Wisconsin 27
No. 7 Baylor +4.5 vs. No. 5 Georgia
Kirby is Urban Meyer with slightly more scruples, innit he. Maybe “dickhead Mark Richt”? Thirteen dudes are suspended for today’s Sugar Bowl. Nearly all are for “undisclosed” reasons, but probably involve some combination of the Devil’s Lettuce, skipping class, academic ineligibility, and just being knuckleheads. Among them are key contributors on defense and three starting offensive linemen. But, hey, I’m sure Jake Fromm can do this by himself right! Throw in the fact that nothing gives you the impression at all that the Dawgs want to be here. Their opponent is the red-hot Matt Rhule, who has been jetsetting to NFL interviews the last week while prepping against a team with far more talent — even with UGA’s bakers dozen of headcases aside. That makes this one almost even then. The BU pass rush is quite good, the secondary is aggressive, and DT James Lynch is a real-ass dude up front. On offense, the Bears still turn it over too much and you suspect they will have a very hard time getting consistent drives for four quarters. Look for UGA to try and stick to their 2019 MO — controlled, short passing game with about 24 attempts for Fromm; 40+ rushes; getting Swift into space; and then hoping special teams and defense control their side of the equation. The one nagging doubt comes back to you though — whether you believe in Kirby. I just don’t. Not in a meaningless game (for Georgia), not against a motivated Baylor team with a very good coach of their own, not when so many players are checked out or sidelined. It’s not that I think that Georgia doesn’t cover the spread, it’s that I think they outright lose an ugly, defensive battle that means far more to Baylor than to the Dawgs. And we get to spend another offseason side-eyeing Athens. Baylor 24 Georgia 23