The Chick-fil-A Bowl’s annual charity golf tournament kicks off this weekend, forcing 16 ACC and SEC skippers to mute their phones (probably), partner up with celebrity alums from their current programs and battle for scholarship dollars in the carefully sculpted wilds of Georgia. The pairings for the main event have been released. We have some thoughts.
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SEC Championship Game
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 12 Georgia: After the grisly spectacle of the Pac-12 title game elicits repeated groans from the masses, will there be any undamaged vocal chords left to complain about the other “one-sided” championship matchup of the weekend? Let’s find out! Georgia hasn’t lost since Week 2, turning an 0-2 start and more tiresome calls for the tanned and fluffy head of Mark Richt into a 10-2 regular season and assurances of a reasonably prestigious bowl bid. The Dawgs did have the advantage of getting their two most fearsome opponents out of the way early, and easily handled remaining ranked foes Auburn and Georgia Tech in November. They also emerged victorious from the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. You might have heard. And while South Carolina edged out Georgia in September, the Gamecocks’ two subsequent conference losses boosted UGA back into the Dome.
LSU is … LSU, but without the two regular-season losses that were once the hallmark of even the best Bayou Bengals teams under Les Miles. The Tigers have played seven ranked opponents to Georgia’s four, beginning with that Arlington showdown against Oregon over Labor Day weekend, which they won by two touchdowns. Since then, they’ve dispatched two more top five opponents (Alabama and Arkansas), blown some formerly well-regarded teams out of the water and ground out the requisite low-scoring slugfests.
• UAB 34, No. 22 Southern Miss 31: Yesterday’s categorization of the Blazers as a “respite” for the Golden Eagles clearly galvanized UAB into unleashing the special-teams dragon. Emerging from a 14-0 hole after quick touchdown strikes gave Southern Miss a three-minute, two-score lead, the Blazers kept pace in the second half and secured the win with a 38-yard field goal in the game’s final four minutes. Nobody in Birmingham puts up with being called a patsy. At least not more than once a season.
Either that, or Larry Fedora really, really doesn’t want that Ole Miss job but can’t think how to decline it gracefully. And either way: A 2-8 team just beat a ranked squad, and now Southern Miss has to get past Memphis (LOLZ) to lock up C-USA East. And it’s all thanks to the hedgehog mentality of the Blazers:
“We don’t get down. We just kind of roll,” Blazers coach Neil Callaway said.
• Ohio 29, Bowling Green 28: Your 2011 MAC East champions didn’t put on quite as dramatic a performance as we’ve seen from certain other recent weeknight conference games, but there was suspense to be had, in the form of a game-winning field goal with three seconds remaining on the clock. 23 yards! Caliente! [RECAP | BOX]
• Fresh coaches, bought and sold: It’s been an alarming 24 hours for coaching news. The universe continues to contrive to create job openings in order to keep Houston Nutt in the SEC, with Texas A&M on a three-game losing streak and now Gary Pinkel’s DWI arrest. And New Mexico has gone and hired Bob Davie, for which we should all be grateful, as it will greatly reduce the time we have to listen to him speak on television.
• Penn State things: SI’s special report on the Jerry Sandusky case, from the latest issue of the magazine, is now available online. A new judge has been assigned following some glaring conflict of interest concerns. Police are contradicting claims made by Mike McQueary. Nobody seems to think the university’s open-records law exemption is a good idea. And read with amazement how the internet played an instigating role in the investigation.
• Rebs can’t repel failpower of that magnitude: From the “surprising sweeps that were much needed but still managed to surprise” department: Ole Miss AD Pete Boone will, in fact, follow Houston Nutt out the door in Oxford. Not a moment too soon for some Rebel partisans, but if they’d just installed Admiral Ackbar as mascot as God intended, this never would’ve happened.
• Home for the ruptured: Dan Persa plans to be back in action for Northwestern this weekend. Same for John Brantley at Florida. Over at Tennessee, Tyler Bray has his cast off but won’t be recovered enough from his broken thumb in time to start against Arkansas. And in a bad blow to Texas A&M, Christine Michael has had another season cut short by injury, suffering a torn ACL.
Wrapping up an eventful first day with a brief but heartfelt celebration of the return of Las Cronicas de Boss Hawg, a development which the good Doctor calls “a Fabergé egg of corruption and insanity.” Indeed, the colors are bright, the lines sinuous, the craftsmanship undeniable: How can the Miami fiasco possibly sustain any more festooning with scandalous ribbons? Try deep-frying the whole contraption in pure Grade-A Houston Dale Nutt oil: Nevin Shapiro reportedly briefly wooed the then-Right Reverend of Fayetteville to take over from Larry Coker in 2006:
According to records, Nutt called Shapiro at 10:17 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2006 and the call lasted 30 minutes. Nutt then hung up and called his agent, Jimmy Sexton, before contacting Shapiro again that same day.