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SEC picks: the gratitude edition

SEC picks

So, a couple weeks ago, my wife goes “Will you do a turkey on the grill this year,” and I was all, “Of course I will,” because, truly, what’s not to like about that setup? I’d have a total escape clause that would require me to consult my Big Green Egg early and often throughout the entire day.

Oh, by the way, the Big Green Egg is kept outside of the downstairs floor where you’ll also find (a) a refrigerator that’s normally loaded with ICBs (ice cold beers) and (b) a pretty good hi-def TV set up.

Smoking food. Drinking beer. Watching football.

But this past Monday, I learned that my wife wanted to eat “around 11:30. Noon at the latest.” You see, it turns out that my oldest had to leave for her bio dad’s house by 2:00, hence our early Thanksgiving dinner. The bird would take 8 to 10 hours. If you do that math, you’ll see I didn’t quite have the cushy deal I thought I did.

As it turned out, I put the turkey on at about 2:00am and once I knew I was totally dialed in on the temperature, I went to sleep and woke up every coupla hours just to check in. We went with a “bourbon-smoked turkey” number that I brined for 36 hours before rubbing down with salt and pepper, then smoking with lump wood coal, chunks of hickory and apple wood chips that had been soaked in bourbon for an hour or so.

There might have been some multi-tasking with the bourbon. Tough to say.

Anyway, it turned out fabulous. So good, in fact, that I think we’ll do an encore performance for Christmas. But you can bet your bottom dollar that before I commit-commit to said encore performance, I’m gonna figure out what my stepdaughter’s Christmas schedule is.

Regardless, it was a particularly good Thanksgiving over here at AVY headquarters. I hope the same can be said of yours. Lotta gratitude flowing around our house as we head into the holiday season. It’s for that reason that I decided to go with a gratitude theme for this weeks SEC picks.

SEC picks: the gratitude edition


LSU -11 @ Arkansas

Before I opine on this game, it should be pointed out that for the year, I’m 39-38-1. No. I’m not setting any records. But, I am above 500, so I’m thankful for that, at least.

You know what else I’m thankful for? Les Miles. Did you see his presser after the hard-fought victory over Ole Miss? He goes nuts-o emotional before suggesting that anyone who sees one of the LSU players should grab that individual and kiss him on the lips. Because he’s progressive like that.

But only if you’re a girl. Because, you know, he’s not that progressive.

And I’m thankful for Arkansas because they made me feel a lot better about the Vols. Until the Vols’ season got even worse than theirs. But, still, at least the John L. Smith meltdowns made me feel a lot better about the Florida game.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Arkansas should totally bring back Bobby Petrino and award Smith a position on his staff. Because if they teamed up? There’s not a single press conference those clowns would ever lose.

SEC picks

Lay the points and take Les and company.

Vandy -11.5 @ Wake Forest

I’m thankful for Vandy for anchoring UT all the way down to rock bottom. And by thankful for I mean mad as hell at. As far as Wake Forest goes? I’m thankful that they’re such an easy pick this week.

Yes, Vandy’s playing for the eighth win of the year for the first time since 1982. And yes. I think they’ll get it. But with a win Wake is bowl eligible and they’re playing at home. Plus, Vanderbilt’s coming off of a four-game SEC winning streak, including two huge wins over Ole Miss and UT, so surely they’ll be a little flat on the road.

This one will be tighter than many think. Might even be an upset. Take the Deacons and the points.

Georgia Tech @ Georgia -14.5

I’m thankful for Georgia because they got thumped by South Carolina. And I had like 50 bucks on South Carolina and it’s always nice to know pretty much immediately that you’ve got a lock. When you think back on that game, isn’t it kind of weird to think that the Bulldogs won the East?

As for Georgia Tech? Again, I’ll go with this: I’m thankful that they’re an easy pick this week and here’s why.

The line started at UGA -13. And it’s moved all the way to 14.5. It’s not so much the total movement of 1.5 points that catches my eye. It’s that it moved through a crucial psychological barrier (14), which means that Vegas is really trying to entice folks to get on Georgia Tech. And that means that everyone and their brother is on the Bulldogs.

And, according to the “masses are asses” theory, you’ve got to go the other way. And it makes sense. Georgia’s got a date with Bama week after next and this could well be a trap game.

Take the dog on the road to cover against the Dawgs.

Mississippi State @ Ole Miss -1.5

I’m thankful for the entire state of Mississippi if for no other reason than they carry the mantle of morbid obesity so gracefully. So there’s that. And I’m thankful that the number’s only 1.5. Because I think that’s a value play for Ole Miss who will have plenty of motivation to play well at home as they try to become bowl eligible under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze.

That’s why I’m going with Ole Miss. That and the fact that Mississippi State was simply never that good. They peaked when they played the Vols. (Imagine that.) Since then but a lone victory over lowly Arkansas.

 Missouri @ Texas A&M -22

I’m thankful for both of our new SEC conference members. Sure, Mizzou hasn’t exactly had the best year. I mean, their zenith was probably beating the Vols in Knoxville (again, imagine that), but other than that, not too much to get excited about for Gary Pinkel’s squad.

But A&M? They’ve had an incredible year and have done nothing but bring glory to our conference thanks in large part to Johnny Manziel. It’s starting to look like the Heisman is his to lose.

Aside from Manziel’s Heisman candidacy, the biggest storyline in this game is that a win over A&M gets Mizzou bowl eligible. When you’re done laughing, go ahead and ride the Aggies for the cover.

Auburn @ Alabama -33.5

I’m extremely thankful for Auburn on account of Gene Chizik’s wife. Because her rant on Facebook gave me some fodder for one of AVY’s finer moments. (Did you catch the Jonna Chizk post?) And I’m thankful for Alabama because Nick Saban combs his hair funny and relies heavily upon strategic headset placement to conceal his baldness. Reasonably sure some hair plugs are involved. And, if I’m being serious, I’m thankful that Saban’s in our conference. Say what you want about him, but the guy’s redonkulous.

But I still hate him.

So, did you ever think you’d see an Iron Bowl with a spread that big? I didn’t. Call me crazy, but I’m taking the underdog on this one. In honor of Jonna Chizik.

South Carolina @ Clemson -4

I’m thankful for South Carolina because they know how it feels to land a HUGE head coach. People forget how historically anemic that program was. But Spurrier’s changed all that. And they knew he would. That’s why the powers that be went out and got him. Can you imagine how great the South Carolina fan base must have felt when they brought him to Columbia?

I’m hoping that we’ll soon find out how great they felt because that would mean that we’ve landed another coach who’s been known to wear a visor or two.

OH. And I’m thankful for Clemson because they’re in the ACC and the ACC sucks.

Take the points and the Gamecocks.

Florida @ Florida State -7

I’m thankful for the entire state of Florida for being home to the vast majority of Kenny Chesney fans. Because I’d not be able to handle it if they lived near me. Other than that, I’m not sure I could name a single thing I’m thankful for Florida about. Because, to be frank, I kinda hate Florida.

Wait. Oranges. I love oranges. So thanks, Florida. For all the oranges.

And the Seminoles are gonna walk the dog on Florida the Gators are a fraud. (UT is part responsible for launching them into the conversation with that epic collapse.) Lay the points and take the Noles.

Kentucky @ Tennessee -14.5

I’m thankful for Kentucky for finishing lower than the Vols in the SEC east standings, but that’s about it. And, you’ll note, that assumes we get the W.

As far as the Vols go? I’m thankful for too many things to list, inspiring my lifelong fandom being chief among them. I’m also thankful that I’ll be taking my kids to the game again on Saturday. More thankful still that they’re all stoked about it.

And I’m thankful for our seniors — especially the eight fifth-year seniors. As I said in a recent post, given all that’s gone down since they signed on the dotted line in 2008, Willie Bohannon, Dallas Thomas, Carson Anderson, Ben Bartholomew, Herman Lathers, Rod Wilks, Steven Fowlkes and Prentiss Waggner are, in many ways, the most tried and true Volunteers of all time. I’m incredibly thankful they stuck with UT.

As far as the number, it’s an interesting one. It started at -13 and just like the Georgia line, it’s gone to -14.5. Which means two things. First, the masses are on UT and Vegas is trying entice folks to play the Wildcats. But second, and more importantly: you’ve got two winless SEC teams, but one is a two touchdown favorite. You know what that tells me?

Everyone in the world knows that the Vols underperformed significantly this year. Which is why I’m going to take them to cover. In hopes that they’ll make a statement.

And for that, I’d be very thankful, indeed.

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