Pirate Jackson holding the skull of the kid whose soul Brent Brewer took with that hit last week
So, I kind of have a dilemma for the next, say, 10 years.
Last Friday's 35-21 Tennessee season-opening victory came and went without me in the Georgia Dome stands. It was the biggest game thus far of the Derek Dooley era, and I had to spend it away from the live action with my lovely wife and 2-year-old son walking back-and-forth, back-and-forth in front of the television.
But back to the point: I wasn't there. And as far as season-openers go for the Vols, I may not be in attendance for the foreseeable future. You see, my little boy Jackson's birthday is Sept. 1 -- traditionally the first college football week of the season. That means that the first weekend [most of the time] will mean a birthday party. That I, of course, cannot miss.
Hopefully, sooner rather than later, he'll want to do Birthday Weekend with 100,000 screaming fans in Knoxville. Until then, he comes first and the Vols come second. But don't worry, I still made sure that my sanctum was disturbed as little as possible during the game. Well, as much as running back and forth with pirate-themed party favors is not disturbing.
Speaking of dilemmas, I couldn't exactly yell, "MOVE!" because I was getting a Get Out of Decorating Free card. But I also couldn't always see [or hear] the game, either. Sigh.
[Full disclosure: I'm joking about the bothersome night. I enjoyed being with them, and the party turned out great with Jackson having one of the most fun days of his life. In other words, I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for a football game. Even one as good as Friday's.]
Anyway, the introduction to Locks & Keys is supposed to be fun -- and kinda funny -- so I had to add my own little snark. Now, onto the L&K!
FIRST, A QUICK LOOK BACK
SHEP (Week 1: 4-2; Total 4-2)
- South Carolina -6 1/2 over Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt still found a way to lose because it's in its blood to do so, but thanks to Connor Shaw's wounded wing, the 'Dores also found a way to keep it close. 0-1.
- Clemson -3 1/2 over Auburn. When your quarterback has the worst rating in the entire SEC and you're devoid of offensive playmakers, it doesn't bode well for your season. Clemson beat hapless Auburn 26-19. 1-1.
- Oklahoma -31 over UTEP. I hate the Sooners. Not only did they cost me a game in the L&K, they also cost me money in real life. New rule: Never bet against Nick Lamaison. Yeah, that's a dumb rule. 1-2.
- Ohio +6.5 over Penn State. Part of me wanted PSU to band together and win this game since nobody on that field had anything to do with Sandusky. But, like every day in the past year or so, the news just kept getting worse for the Nittany Lions. 2-2.
- West Virginia -25 over Marshall. Geno Smith for Heisman. No, really. 3-2.
- Arkansas State +37 over Oregon. This game probably could have been an 80-point win for the Ducks. Instead, they called off the dogs and let the Fighting Malzahns catch up to get me in the good. Thanks, Chip Kelly! 4-2.
KID B (Week 1: 4-2, Total: 4-2)
- Georgia Tech +7.5 over Virginia Tech. In one of the ugliest offensive games you'll see this year, the Hokies rallied to win -- but an overtime field goal wasn't enough to cover. 1-0.
- South Carolina -6.5 over Vandy. Again, James Franklin found another way to compare himself to Lane Kiffin -- with another moral victory. 1-1.
- Minnesota -8.5 over UNLV. UNLV may be the worst team in FBS like Kid said, but it took the Golden Rats three overtimes to beat them by three. 1-2.
- Ohio +6.5 over Penn State. That second half by the Bobcats was a thing of beauty as they won their biggest game in school history and probably made a lot of people money by coming through on the trendy pick. 2-2.
- Troy -6 over UAB. Yeah, these two teams are in Alabama. That's all the snark I got for this one. Kid got it as that toothless guy named Troy won by 10. [1,000 people in Alabama just turned around]. 3-2.
- tOSU -23 over Miami-Ohio. Urban Meyer's first game as the King Nut wasn't pretty early, but OSU got the job done. 4-2.
I_S (Week 1: 3-3, Total: 3-3)
- Oregon/Arkansas State OVER 68.5. Um, yeah. Try NINETY-ONE, or as we like to say around here ELEVENTY BILLION. 1-0.
- Clemson/Auburn UNDER 55.5. Another reason I smack myself in the face for never looking at the over/under or betting it. This one was also cake. 2-0.
- Ohio State -23 over Miami-Ohio. Meyer didn't get to run up the score, but he won by enough to piss off the oddsmakers. 3-0.
- Oklahoma -31 over UTEP. Bob Stoops continues to be the most overrated coach in the country. Oklahoma won and found a way to make every one of its fans want to light themselves on fire. 3-1.
- Florida -28.5 over Bowling Green. Say what you want to about the Clawfense, but I call their quarterback "Schlitz" every time I see him, and any quarterback whose name is that close to the name of a really bad beer ... wait, where was I going with this? BGSU covered!! 3-2.
- Cal -11 over Nevada. The Bears have Keenan Allen ... and that must be about it. Somehow a rebuilding Nevada team beat them by a touchdown. 3-3.
ONTO THE LOCKS
- Nebraska -6 over UCLA. I think Jim Mora Jr. is going to wind up being a good hire in Pasadena, but the Bruins are just putrid right now. That, and Taylor Martinez is going to be the best player on the field. Even if Rex Burkhead doesn't play, I like the Huskers to cover.
- Louisiana Tech -3.5 over Houston. Let me get this straight: In the first game post-Kevin Sumlin, the Cougars lost 30-13 to a team called Texas State and its offensive coordinator resigned. Now they play a popular upset pick from a week ago in La Tech, whose game against Texas A&M was hurricaned-out, and they're just 3.5-point dogs? I don't get it. I'm going with Dykes.
- UTEP +7.5 over Ole Miss. I don't know if the Miners will win this game, but that defense looked pretty darn good against an overrated Oklahoma team. Even if the Sooners aren't as good as No. 4, they're worlds better than Hugh Freeze's first Rebels team that had to come from behind to beat Central Arkansas. Plus, never bet against Nick Lamaison, as I said above.
- Oklahoma State -10.5 over Arizona. It normally takes Rich Rodriguez longer than two weeks to run programs into the ground, but it will certainly feel that way this weekend. I don't know why most of the money this week has been riding the Wildcats, but I don't buy it. Pokes win comfortably, freshman QB and all.
- East Carolina +22 over South Carolina. I'm not saying the Pirates are going to win this game, but supposedly Connor Shaw's shoulder is still really, really hurt. If he can't go, the Cocks don't have anybody who can throw the ball downfield. If he can, they still don't. I think this one's closer than most think.
- Mississippi State -3 over Auburn. I'm totally not sold on the Tigers. A Clemson team that executed poorly and played without its star beat AU last week, and I don't think it should have been that close. Like Clemson, Dan Mullen's Bulldogs have speed all over the field, and I don't believe Brian Van Gorder's team can stop it. Also, Kiehl Frazier is as underwhelming as they come. MSU wins outright, but I'll take the three.
KidB's "FREE MONEY" Picks:
- NC State-4.5 over UConn: We saw what Glennon can do when he doesn't have a large fast man in an orange jersey bearing down upon him. And I'm going out on a limb in predicting that he will not, in fact, have any large fast men in orange jerseys anywhere near him on Saturday. As such, he'll pick apart UConn, who, let's be honest, is just a garbage mid-tier Big East team.
- Oregon-35 over Fresno "not in fact a" State: This should be the halftime spread.
- USC-26.5 over Syracuse: This line might actually be a typo. And so I'm not asking any more questions. I'm just taking it.
- Vanderbilt-3.5 over Northwestern: Smart kid fight! Vandy looked like a competent football team against South Carolina. Northwestern went down to the wire with Syracuse, who, let's be honest, is just a garbage mid-tier Big East team.
- Oklahoma St.-10 over Arizona: This line started out at OkSt-13.5 and has moved down to where it is presently. Somebody in Vegas thinks they know something that KidB doesn't. KidB thinks this person in Vegas may have gone the way of Leo's character in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". You know...FULL retard. Pokes roll.
- Kansas St.-7 over THE U: Are y'all familiar with a fella by the name of Collin Klein? No, not Kevin Kline. No no, not Colin Farrell. Calvin Klein? No! Collin Klein is his name. And he shall be remembered by it. And you shall remember it. And you will.
- New Mexico State +21.5 over Ohio. Most of the time, the best team in the MAC spends their time running up ridiculous scores on bad teams. Ohio is not like most top teams in the MAC. In four games as double-digit favorites last year, Ohio lost to Buffalo, lost to Ball State, beat Akron by 17 (but, ya know, Akron), and beat Bowling Green by one. The weight of expectations is evidently not their friend. Oh yeah, and they're coming off the biggest win in program history and now being asked to care about New Mexico State. It's hard to predict the emotions of college kids, but if they're not down for this one, they'll never letdown again.
- UCF +18 over Ohio State. Ineligi-Bowl! Ohio State beat Miami Ohio of Ohio by 46 last year, but they didn't look nearly as good as the score indicated. And UCF, when they have a good team, knows how to play tight with a power. They should, by all rights, have a good team this year.
- Penn State +10 over Virginia. Virginia, like Ohio, hasn't really learned how to blow bad teams away. See: 3 point win over Indiana, OT win over Idaho. Okay, so they blew out Maryland, but Maryland is an exception to everything. Anyways, I don't think Penn State is as bad as they looked last week. They crashed hard in the second half after being way up in the first. That happened to LSU in 2005 after Katrina, and they blew Mississippi State away five days later. Lions keep it close this week in Charlottesville.
- ??? +14 over Notre Dame. I'm not sure if the Irish have an opponent this week, and certainly not an opponent I want my money on, but they're also coming off a trans-Atlantic trip and have back-to-back matchups with ranked rivals on deck. If they show up, they roll, but they may do a bit of sleepwalking this week.
- Arkansas State -23 over Memphis. This is an awful big spread, but Memphis is awful awful. And Malzahn knows how to score points on Oregon's backups, who should be better than Memphis' starters.
- Texas Tech -18 over Texas State. Given last week, I should take a total here, but I haven't looked at them yet, and I'm running out of time, so let's go elsewhere. I think Wyoming is a solid play, but they always lose when I pick them, so I'll bet that Texas State played the game of their lives last week and won't do it again this week. And last week, could you have imagined you could get Texas Tech under 20? [insert your own Tuberville/Franchione joke]
FIVE KEYS FOR TENNESSEE
[Note: No offense to Georgia State, but Tennessee cannot lose this game. It's not humanly possible. I'm pretty sure that we could get a team of 11 RTT readers together and put up a couple of touchdowns against the Panthers secondary. So, we're going to amend this week's five keys to "Five Things UT Needs To Do This Week." Now, if we lose, I'm probably giving up my fanhood.]
- Pitch A Shutout. GSU has still never scored an offensive touchdown against an FBS opponent. The Vols don't need to be the team that allows that to happen. This team has no business on the scoreboard against UT, and Sal Sunseri's defense needs to continue applying the pressure -- no matter who's in the game -- and keep this team out of the end zone. That would be the best way for the defense to mark a personal 'win' in a gimme game.
- Empty the Bench. Everybody who is going to play this season needs to play Saturday. Hey, if you think you may want to redshirt a few guys, keep them on the bench. But if they're healthy and they can contribute, let them get reps. There's no reason for guys like Jason Croom, Cody Blanc, Deion Bonner, etc., not to play a lot of snaps and take those baby steps into competition. It won't help them necessarily adapt to the speed of the game, but it can allow them to get the jitters out.
- Light It Up Then Lighten Up. The Vols need to come out of the gates lighting up the scoreboard offensively, doing whatever it wants to on offense and showcasing its offensive talent for the home folks. For about two quarters. Then, all the starters need to grab a chunk of sideline for the rest of the game and watch the backups get reps. If UT comes out of this game with any key injuries suffered in the second half, it's either inexcusable on the coaching staff's part or on the team's part for letting a vastly inferior team hang around.
- Rest Herman. The most troublesome thing to me about this week is senior linebacker Herman Lathers being listed as probable on the injury report after dinging his shoulder last week. I know that Lathers may be a bit rusty after being held out of a lot of contact drills this preseason, but he is also a major defensive key for the Vols while Christian Harris is not healthy. We desperately need Lathers to be full-strength against Florida. Why play him in this game? Dooley needs to rest him in games we don't need him. Nothing can convince me otherwise.
- Let Rajion Wash Away The Bad Taste From Friday. Marlin Lane may be the answer for the Vols at running back. So may Rajion Neal. Just because of his brutal debut as UT starting running back doesn't mean that the Vols should turn their backs on the junior who was the most consistent throughout spring and camp. They won't. Against a lesser opponent, this would be a great time for Rajion to pile up some yards [while he's in there], test his mettle between the tackles and prove to himself and the coaches that he can be an assertive running back.