Sports In Paradise By Dale Jones
It is going to be pretty tough to beat my record from last season. During the 12-week regular season, picking 14 games each week as well as an upset of the week, I went 142-38 for a winning percentage of .789. On top of that, I selected the upset of the week 6 out of 12 weeks. If I can do better than that this season, I’m moving to Vegas. But don’t count on it.
Now that I have blown my own horn, we can throw the record books out the window and start all over again. That is what it is all about anyway, right? The first week is usually the toughest because we really have nothing to go by other than what everyone did last season. While other prognosticators use a crystal ball to enlighten them, I tend to use my very special seashell. (That’s only fitting, right? After all, I live at the beach) I just put it up to my ear, and it tells me who is going to win.
So let’s get started.
(#23) Georgia vs. La. Lafayette – If nothing else, Bulldog fans can take pride in the fact that their sellout streak continue to 58 straight games. If this game, however, were not the season opener, I’m not so sure it would have been a sellout against this Sun Belt foe. Still the atmosphere will be electric and Georgia will easily win their 2010 opener. Georgia 33 – La. Lafayette 14
Kentucky at Louisville – Starting off the season with a rivalry game isn’t all bad, unless you have a new coach, and your rival has been to four straight bowl games and won your last three meetings. Louisville is proud of their stadium expansion and all the tickets are gone. Hopefully Coach Charlie Strong can pull out a win in his first game as a head coach. But I wouldn’t count on it. Kentucky 28 – Louisville 21
(#4) Florida vs. Miami (Ohio) – The pitiful RedHawks were 1-11 last season. This contest will be over before it starts. Florida 48 – Miami (Ohio) 3
Ole Miss vs. Jacksonville State – The Gamecocks travel to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday, but the question remains, will they be facing junior quarterback Randall Mackey, sophomore Nathan Stanley, or highly touted, former Oregon signal caller Jeremiah Masoli? Sure, Masoli had his trouble with the law, but he knows how to get a team to a bowl game, and honestly, he may be the Rebels only hope to keep from ending up in the tank of the SEC this season. In this contest, I’m not sure it will matter whether Masoli is on the field or not. Ole Miss 24 – Jacksonville State 17
Tennessee vs. Tennessee-Martin – Watching all of the off-season “activity” surrounding the Tennessee Vols football team has been more exciting than their on-the-field activity for the last two seasons combined.. If they keep up the bar fights and the coaching turnovers, MTV is considering making a reality show out of this program. At least they will start out on a positive note for new head man Derek Dooley. Tennessee 28 – Tennessee-Martin 14
Memphis at Mississippi State – It is expected that the Bulldogs will be better in the secondary this season. They can’t be much worse. Dan Mullen’s boys were next to last in defending the pass last season, giving up more than 200 yards per game through the air. On the other side of the ball, keep an eye on Chad Bumphis. He is fun to watch. Memphis is not bad, and this game could go either way, but my seashell is telling me to keep on my SEC glasses. Mississippi State 24 – Memphis 21
(#17) Arkansas vs. Tennessee Tech – Until they prove otherwise, I am going to drink the Kool-aid and believe that the Razorbacks have one of the best teams in the SEC if not the country. With all of their stat leaders returning from last year’s squad, that No. 17 ranking is likely to rise quickly. Arkansas 34 – Tennessee Tech 14
Vandy vs. Northwestern – Prattville, Alabama’s very own Larry Smith will be calling the signals once again for the Commodores. Smith had a great year in 2009 before going down with a hamstring injury late in the season against Georgia Tech. The home team wins this one in what could be considered an upset. Vandy 17 – Northwestern 10
(#22) Auburn vs. Arkansas State – Tiger fans are anxious to see quarterback Cam Newton in action. While this should be a warm up game for Coach Chizik and his squad, there are still some question marks in spots that were left vacant by graduation. With a little more depth on defense this year, the Tigers should be able to keep opponents from scoring 21-plus points every game. Auburn 28 – Arkansas State 14
(#1) Alabama vs. San Jose State – The good news – Tuscaloosa will welcome the largest crowd ever into Bryant-Denny Stadium as the Tide begins defending their National Championship, the bad news – Mark Ingram won’t be playing. More good news – it won’t matter because the Tide is playing San Jose State. More bad news, Penn State comes to town next week. It would be good if Mr. Ingram could be back by then. Alabama 42 – San Jose 7
(#3) Boise State 23 – (#10) Virginia Tech 21
(#20) Florida State 45 – Samford 7
UAB 28 – Florida Atlantic 14
South Alabama 35 – Pikeville 14
Upset of the Week:
(#21) LSU vs. (#18) North Carolina – North Carlina will be distracted by their NCAA woes and LSU is not a bad team. It won’t be by much, but the Bengal Tigers will take this one in the first upset of the season. LSU 31 – North Carolina 28
—Dale Jones covers sports and news in Baldwin County.