DUBLIN -- From somewhere near the banks of the Muir Eireann (Irish Sea, but I'm trying to blend), where nobody seems to care about the SEC or ACC or Greyson Lambert or Jacob Eason or the belated admission by the Seiler family that the Georgia mascot was looking and breathing like a mutant 120-pound hamster, but I swear I overheard an old guy on a bus tour tell a group of kids while holding a fake axe, "We used to cut off people's heads but then we went into the E.U.and now we can't do that anymore" . . .
Hello, I am back.
Weekend Predictions, on the road this week looking for candidates to outsource our research department in various Dublin dubs, and this could take a while, is back for another (possibly) lucrative season, filled with (almost) guaranteed winners, or a pot of gold.
By now, you should know how this works: Every week, I give you the winners. It's your job to find them. Some of the "winners" may appear as orchestrated losses intended to throw off competing investment services. We take the revenue from the fools who bet the losses and put it back into our mug, I mean research. You should be able to decipher the real picks from the fake ones by using your Weekend Predictions Code Book ($39.95. Not available for download, just mail me the cash I'll mail you the book, eventually).
It has been strange being in Dublin. The college football season is starting but the Irish Times newspaper included four pages of soccer, three pages of Gaelic football, two pages of rugby, two pages of horse racing, a half-page page of tennis, a half-page of golf and a paragraph of cycling but not even one headline asking, "Lambert or Eason? Who, Kirby? Who? Who?!? WHO?"
Nobody in Dublin cares. For confirmation, and pure research purposes, I walked into Boyle Sports, an off-track/off-field betting establishment (next door to a strip club, another "establishment") and noticed three old guys staring intently at video of horse races, and then my shoes. The young teller behind the window, Nadine, assured me I could wager on the Georgia-North Carolina game if I chose to.
"We don't usually get too many who bet on American college football. But the ones who do bet a lot," she said.
Me: Like degenerate Americans?
Me: Who should I pick?
Her: "I'm not sure. What's their names?"
Me: The Bulldogs and the Tar Heels.
Her: "What a Tar Heel?"
Me: "It's something that usually disappears in October or November.
Me: Never mind.
Her: "I like the Bulldogs. They sound better."
You know what? I'm sure there's another reason why I think Georgia will win its opener. But I can't think of anything better than, "They sound better."
Greyson Lambert will start over Jacob Eason. I'm not sure it matters because both will play and this game will come down to the Bulldogs' defense and running game and North Carolina players standing in a huddle, wondering, "Wait. Why are we the Tar Heels again? I know it came up on the campus tour."
Georgia wins and covers 2½.
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Somewhere Over The Pond
Georgia Tech vs. Boston College: One Dublin fanwear store is selling green "Georgia" vs."Boston" T-shirts to promote this game, which is going to be a shock to the Bulldogs and the ... Celtics? If Tech wanted to suffer an identity crisis, they could've just stayed home. Hey, at least Mike Bobinski isn't around to shuttle them via mule train. The Green Jackets cover 3.
This will do nothing to improve Ireland-U.S. relations: a short history of Ireland
Thursday Night Online Only Special
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: Steve Spurrier quit South Carolina during last season -- I think it was third-and-10, and he was out of ideas, and players, and had no conscience -- because he said he wanted to give the program the best chance to regroup and succeed (Hahaha. OK.), and he left the Gamecocks in such great shape that they were forced to sign Will Muschamp off the table of marked-down coaches and slightly irregular socks and now they open the season as underdogs to Vanderbilt. Well, it'll be fun in Nashville. Commodores win and cover 4½.
Week 1 Value Menu
(Add fries and an Alabama graduate transfer for $1.99, assuming you can back Nick Saban into a corner with a blow torch.)
South Alabama at Starkville State Penitentiary: Great offseason for Mississippi State. Recruit Jeffery Simmons punched a woman in the face, so coach Dan Mullen suspended him ... for one game ... against a Sun Belt team. Had Simmons punched two women, Mullen would've withheld dessert for a week. Another player, Nick James, has been arrested four times in the last three years, but back off, he's a starter. May I interest you in a pair of official team blinders? MSU wins but take the other team and 29.
U-Mass at Florida: An Ireland soccer team played an easy opponent outside of league play this week. It was called a “friendly.” I think that’s what Florida should start calling its non-conference games. Gators cover 36½.
Clemson at Auburn: Since going 12-2 with an SEC title and a national title game appearance in year one, Gus Malzahn is 15-11 overal, 6-10 in the SEC and 3-7 vs. ranked opponents. He's starting to look more like Gene Chizik. An even bigger upset: Dabo Swinney is starting to look like somebody other than Dabo Swinney. Clemson covers 7½.
Alabama vs. Remains of USC: The afterglow of a national championship for Nick Saban never seems to last long. He forced an assistant coach to resign after likely NCAA recruiting violations (pending), ranted about the "wild, wild west" that satellite camps can create (this from one of the former masters of "gray shirts" and oversigning) and got hammered for refusing to let graduate transfer Maurice Smith go to Georgia, until finally bowing to public humiliation. So basically he has reason to blow up your planet again. Duck. Tide covers 11½.
No more questions for Nick Saban. Ask the bottle
Florida A&M at Miami: Mark Richt dismissed two defensive starters who reportedly were being allowed to drive expensive rental cars in exchange for future representation as pros, which, as it turns out, has been against NCAA rules since the late 1700s, except possibly in Miami. Richt came out of a seven-minute retirement for this. Over/under on the first: "What have I done?" Hurricanes cover 30½.
Ball State at Georgia State: The Panthers play their final home season in the Georgia Dome. Why not just let everybody in for free and see if it makes a difference? Panthers cover 3½.
"You don’t gamble to win. You gamble so you can gamble the next day." -- Bert Ambrose
Lilly's pick: I did this early in the week and struggled to keep under wraps. When I opened my office door and let the mutt into the LillyDome, Lilly looked at two cheese'd pictures, one of Uga and the other of a sheep with fake ram horns (mutant North Carolina mascot). She rarely has picked against Georgia but looked confused. Then she chose: Heels! Maybe the Uga "outbreeding" story threw her off.
- In any country, Georgia Tech needs to be better
- A solution to satellite camps: Hold them in Ireland
- Until there's football in Ireland, I had a more important mission
- Foreign land couldn't be worse for Georgia Tech than U.S. was last year
- Reading between the lines on Smart's "No News For You" news conference
- It's 'Sack Schultz' time, suckers: Win Chick-fil-A Bowl tickets or $2,500
- Falcons reminding all: These games don't count
- Predicting Georgia Tech's season: game-by-game (from AJC special section
- Keanu Neal injury 'minor' but Falcons can't afford any bad news
- (Full Q&A) Chipper Jones likes Braves' future but says moves needed
- (Blog) Chipper Jones: Braves need moves but he likes future (and being back home)
- Eason will be Georgia's best QB but that doesn't mean he's best now
- Will Turner Field be Eden for Georgia State football?
- Ryan Lochte wins 'pariah medley' -- loses all 4 endorsement deals
- AP poll got it right but Dogs, Jackets will rise (and watch out for LSU)
- What does future hold for Braves' starters -- and Roger McDowell?
- Turner Field plans would be closer to 'dream' if they included Braves
- Preseason Overreaction, Week 2: Ryan, offense ease 'fears'
- Part of Braves' future (Swanson) arrives -- everybody please breathe
- Can Falcons' pass rush finally put Bryan Cox in a good mood?
- A-Rod may join Bonds in Miami? It seems so wrong but so right (UPDATE: Never mindl)
- Bill Curry knows: Georgia Tech needs a unifying presence for A.D.
- SEC correct to give Maurice Smith waiver, now it's time to junk rule
- Julio Jones rarely lost at Alabama, and he's tired of losing with Falcons
- Preseason Overreaction, Week 1: Matt Ryan is the No. 3 QB (kidding!)
- Maurice Smith: The player who caused Nick Saban to surrender
- Georgia Tech was dysfunction junction under Mike Bobinski
- Mike Bobinski won't be leaving Georgia Tech in great shape
- Paul Johnson is at his best when people expect the worst
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