Over the objections of the NCAA enforcement staff (one old guy with a metal detector in Sarasota, Fla.), the coaching remains of Bobby Petrino (east of Paducah, Ky., west of Hades) and the poor rabbi who’s going to have to listen to Ryan Braun repent on Yom Kippur in a few weeks …

Hello. I am back.

Weekend Predictions is a sure thing. It’s as much of a lock as video of a Heisman Trophy winner signing over 4,000 autographs for memorabilia dealers and then getting suspended by the NCAA for profiting off of his name.

Wait, bad example.

I hear now that video evidence of a Heisman Trophy winner signing over 4,000 autographs for a memorabilia dealer is worth only a suspension for the first half against Rice, because Johnny Manziel must not have taken any money for his autographs because the NCAA asked him to empty his pockets and he didn’t even have a receipt that read, “For services rendered: $12,637.27,” so there, and because this is all a big misunderstanding and he signed footballs and helmets and probably Cheetos bags out of the goodness of his heart (somewhat dwarfed by his ego), which is why he kept all of the signings a secret from Texas A&M and the NCAA to begin with.

Wait. What?

Actually, this works out well. Manziel can spend the first half at the College Station LaQuinta signing autographs. Barring carpal tunnel syndrome, he’ll be back for the third quarter.

Maybe the NCAA enforcement staff should start over with something easy. Like expired parking meters.

Back to Weekend Predictions. You know how this works. Every week I give you the winners. It’s your job to find them. W.P. Investment Services never gets a pick wrong. On occasion we are forced to employ an elaborate disinformation campaign, largely to throw off competitors who are out to steal our formula for implausible success.

Only you, the Weekend Predictions readers, will know the real picks from the phony ones, thanks to the W.P. Deciphering Handbook that was mailed in July. If you still need a copy, please send me $10 or a signed Johnny Manziel swamp-land lease and I’ll forward one to you before the Manziel family attorney springs his next rich frat-boy client.

Good news: Manziel has been declared ineligible for the “Sack Schultz” contest. But you can win a $5,000 trip to Hawaii, weekly $100 Kroger gift cards and tickets to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game and Chick-fil-A Bowl by picking games against me. Just go to AJC.com/go/SackSchultz2013 to enter.

Now to this week’s big game: Georgia vs. Clemson. By the end of this season, the Bulldogs will be a better team. I’m just not sure they are right now. Their defense is young and missing Josh Harvey-Clemons. Their secondary is banged up. Georgia can score, but so can Clemson. The two tipping points for me: It’s too much too soon for the defense, and the team may be missing kicker Marshall Morgan (possibly suspended for drunk boating).

That’s enough. Expect a lot of points. But in the end: Dogs go down. Clemson wins (and take the 1 1/2 as a gift).


Elon at Georgia Tech: When Ted Roof pulled into his Tech parking space, the sign read: “Defensive coordinator. Leave your car running.” But if players can at least understand what’s coming out of Roof’s mouth, it’ll be progress over Mr. Poopy Pants, Al Groh. It’s the first start for quarterback Vad Lee. Few hiccups expected. Jackets cover 45.

Samford at Georgia State: The Panthers play their first game as an FBS team, and they’re underdogs at home to an FCS team. Just wait until they play games against West Virginia and Alabama in a span of three weeks. (No worries. The athletic administration has direct deposit.) Trent Miles: I wish you well on this journey. Samford covers 6 1/2.

Alabama vs. Virginia Tech: Alabama hasn’t lost a nonconference regular-season game since Nick Saban’s first season in 2007, which I guess means Virginia Tech hopes to have something in common with Louisiana-Monroe. Or do they already? The Hokies haven’t been this big of an underdog in 21 years. Is Frank Beamer starting to look like Bobby Bowden? Tide covers 20.

LSU at TCU: From the inmates-run-the-asylum file: Les Miles reinstated running back Jeremy Hill (his resume: misdemeanor battery for punching someone outside of a bar; misdemeanor for having sex with a 14-year-old when he was in high school) because, he said, he put it to a player vote and they said, “Sure!” TCU’s Gary Patterson is now my favorite coach for this retort: “I’m sure if it was some opponent they’d beat by 100 points (the players) wouldn’t have a vote.” I’d happily lose this, but my head says: LSU covers 4 1/2.

Souls For Sale: Bobby Petrino’s career affirms he lacks a spine, a conscience or morals. But he somehow found another willing dance partner in college football hell, Western Kentucky. Quite a career devolution. Good luck picking up blonde volleyball players on your moped now, punk. Kentucky covers 4 1/2.

Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas: The Razorbacks athletic board and boosters have scheduled a mass confession at halftime. Piglets cover 10 1/2.

Chickens and Rice: Manziel is playing only a half, but the line is 27. Maybe wishful thinking, but: A&M wins, but give me Rice and the manna.

Toledo at Florida: Will Muschamp went from 7-6 in Year 1 to 11-2 in Year 2, which is difficult when you’re working around lingering parole violations from the previous administration. Gators cover 23 1/2.

Buffalo at Ohio State: A Rolling Stone story on Aaron Hernandez says Urban Meyer “may have covered up failed drug tests along with two violent incidents,” including a drive-by shooting, while at Florida, which forced the SEC to issue a statement: “OK. What’s your point?” Buckeyes cover 35.


Last week: None

Lilly’s pick: Lilly triggered her second-year contract option by going 8-5 last season. Pictures of Uga and the Clemson mascot, each with a piece of cheese, were hung side by side. Lilly ate both — but lunged at the one by Uga first.

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