Only the hardest men, those who have been in hand-to-hand combat, barroom fights with broken beer bottles, and bitter divorces will understand this, but there lurks within the hearts of some a very distinguishable trait.
Two years ago when the University of Georgia played Florida, the entire Georgia team ran into the end-zone after the Bulldogs' first touchdown and did a very defiant dance. Florida coach Urban Meyer watched without much amusement.
Georgia coach Mark Richt, being the classy guy he is, called the next day to apologize and Urban said he accepted it, but sometime later, in his autobiography, he wrote, "That wasn't right. It was a bad deal. It will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. We'll handle it, and it's going to be a big deal."
So last year, during the waning minute of Florida's game against Georgia, guess what Urban did? Get the picture, the Gators had smacked the Bulldogs around all afternoon and Florida's got it in the bag, 49-10. But guess what Urban did? He called time out with 0:44 on the clock.
It was as if to say, "Yo! Mark! Look at the scoreboard! Hey, 'feel this!' Remember your little dance last year? I want you to remember it now!"
Then guess what Urban did? With 0:30 on the clock, and the Gators all laughing with Florida up by 39, Urban called another time out. Yes, "feel this!" It has been said the point was well-taken. That's just plumb-out street fighting. That's called "playing with your jugular."
Since that very "cold" day in Jacksonville, a brash young coach, Lane Kiffin, has been hired by Tennessee. And since Urban has proven he knows how to "handle" big deals, let's just say that when the "Lane Train" rolled through Fort Lauderdale in January and Kiffin picked Meyer's pocket for running sensation Nu-'Keese Richardson, things got bright.
Richardson had already committed to the Gators, given his word to Meyer he'd be there, but Kiffin got his signature. Shortly after Kiffin's much-hailed recruiting coup, a huge billboard went up on I-95 in Fort Lauderdale, a "Tennessee orange" one with Kifffin's picture on it and featuring UT all-American Eric Berry. On the billboard, in huge letters, were the simple words, "It's Time." Yo, baby, you "feel it?"
Let me tell you what "time" is. That's the sign in the Gators' weight room that says, "Days until the Tennessee Game," one where the number decreases by one until this Saturday when the Vols play top-ranked Florida in The Swamp (3:30 p.m., CBS).
Tennessee is going to Gainesville a 29-point underdog, but that means nothing to the Gators. All they care about is that "It's time!" for somebody to "feel this." Tomorrow afternoon Florida Field will hardly be a place for women or small children.
That said, here are my 10 picks for this week:
LOUISVILLE (1-0) at KENTUCKY (1-0), 12 Noon (ESPNU) -- The Cats are a 14-point favorite in the early game at Commonwealth Stadium and here's why you should think UK blue instead of UL cardinal; Kentucky's "wildcat" offense will smoke the shaky Cards. UK QB Mike Hartline runs it well, throwing to six receivers in the 42-0 win over Miami (O) two weeks ago, but Randall Cobb is the key with his speed. He plays a couple of positions, most notably WR, but UofL can't contain UK. Kentucky won 27-2 last year and the word is Louisville coach Steve Kragthrope, in his third year with a 12-13 record, is on thin ice. MY PICK: Kentucky 37-7.
NORTH TEXAS (1-1) at No. 4 ALABAMA (2-0), 12:21 p.m. (SEC Network, ESPN GamePlan) -- Tide fans are getting anxious, with UA playing another patsy so it is doubtful we'll learn much more than we already know about QB Greg McElroy and the full potential of UA's wildcat offense. It's for sure the Tide is loaded with talent so the guess is Nick Saban will try to play a lot of people again, using his top guns like Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson sparingly. The Mean Green ain't exactly that, losing to Ohio U. 31-30 last week in Denton, and, yes, NT is receiving a little "stipend" for playing in Tuscaloosa. So be patient - Arkansas comes to town next week before road games at both Kentucky and Ole Miss. MY PICK: Alabama 49-10.
CHATTANOOGA (1-1) at PRESBYTERIAN, 1:30 p.m. -- Now this isn't meant to be funny, but it has been declared "Pink Out" Day this Saturday at Presbyterian, the small school in Clinton., S.C., where the game will be a benefit of sorts for the much-lauded Susan G. Komen Foundation. So get the picture, here go the Blue-and-Gold into what is going to be something of a Pepto-Bismol atmosphere and they are even holding a "Survivor's Walk" at halftime. I'm not trying to be funny, but the Mocs, so named for an Indian's shoe (i.e. Moccasin Bend) are a heavy favorite over the PC Blue Hose, as the team is called, in a pink stadium. Oh well. MY PICK: Chattanooga, 34-14.
TENNESSEE (1-1) at No. 1 FLORIDA, 3:30 p.m. (CBS) -- Kerry Meier is an All-American receiver for the Kansas Jayhawks and not long ago he was talking about the fearsome "spread" offense that is now quite the rage. Meier, whose team plays neither UT nor Florida, said that what the Gators can do with Tim Tebow, speedy receivers and cat-quick running backs, is deadly. UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was talking to UT great Johnny Majors not long ago and they likened the "spread" to General Neyland's single wing, but Monte was candid: "I can tell guys where to be, but I can't play for them." MY PICK: Florida, 62-17.
No. 19 NEBRASKA (2-0) at No. 13 VA. TECH, 3:30 p.m. (CBS) -- Easily the biggest game of the day, this is a make-or-break test for UN coach Bo Pelini, who has finally forged a way for the "Big Red" to get back into the Top 25. VT was throttled pretty good by Alabama in the season opener for both, 34-24, but VT is both fierce and good. Nebraska can counter some of the Hokie speed with strength, but the big deal is the 'Huskers want Pelini to make his mark. VT is a 4-point favorite, but don't bet much either way because emotion and momentum - which never show up until kickoff - will probably decide the outcome. MY PICK: Nebraska, 27-24.
NOTRE DAME (1-1) at MICHIGAN STATE (1-1), 3:42 p.m. (NBC) -- It can be argued that Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is sitting on the hottest seat in college coaching after a 19-year-old kid led Michigan to a 38-34 upset over the Irish last week. MSU dropped a 29-27 heartbreaker to Central Michigan, but that will immediately be forgotten across the entire country if the Spartans can somehow contain QB Jimmy Clausen and overcome a talent deficiency. ND is a 10-point pick, but if MSU can silence the South Bend crowd, look out, Nelly! MY PICK: Notre Dame, 26-22.
MISS. STATE (1-1) at VANDERBILT (1-1), 7:00 p.m. (FSN) --Both of these teams were respectable last week against bullies - MSU falling to Auburn while LSU popped Vandy by identical 23-9 scores so the reason the Commodores are a 9-point favorite is because VU coach Bobby Johnson has his kids believing they can win. Dan Mullen is in his first year at MSU and it shows, not so much in lack of talent but the speed is still off. Vandy frosh runner Zac Stacy has been impressive, but VU defensive back Casey Hayward is the one to watch. MY PICK: Vanderbilt, 28-14.
No. 23 GEORGIA (1-1) at ARKANSAS (1-0), 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) -- This may be the best game of the day, with UA using the Michigan transfer, QB Ray Mallett beautifully in the 48-10 win two weeks ago. The kid went 17-of-22 for 309 yards so what will you bet the Razorbacks come out slinging it? Georgia sputtered to life late last week against Spurrier and USC and give it to Joe Cox; his two TD passes were vital. The reason UA was a scant 1-point pick yesterday was because this toss-up is in Fayetteville. If Georgia can bear down on shaky tackles, shaky receivers and have fun, they can win here. MY PICK: Georgia, 21-15.
WEST VIRGINIA (2-0) at AUBURN (2-0), 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) -- Finally Auburn will get a brawny test and we'll find out if the resurgent offense, led by senior Ben Tate and frosh Orlando McCalebb, is true. Both RBs are averaging over 100 yards per game, but West Virginia is a brawling club with a suspect defense. The Mountaineers have given up 20 points to both Liberty and East Carolina and - face it - the Big East can't hang with the SEC. The Tigers are favored by 7 because WV has to throw the ball to move it (Jarrett Brown was 24-of-31 for 334 yards and 4 TDs last week). Auburn's secondary speed should put a dent in that. UA defender Antonio Coleman is much of a man, but safety Zac Etheridge has now led or shared the lead in tackles for five of the last six games. MY PICK: Auburn, 31-14.
TEXAS TECH (2-0) at No. 2 TEXAS (2-0), 8:00 p.m. -- TTU is off to a rocket-like start, averaging 46.5 points in the first two games with a lightening quick offense but Texas, with whip-armed All-American Colt McCoy is averaging 50 so look for these two to "light it up" in Austin. "This will be a great fan game," said Mack Brown, the Texas coach. "There are going to be balls flying all over the place. People come to see offense. Both defenses are improved, they're playing well but I'm going to tell you there will be some sparks flying in this game on offense because we're more up-tempo than we've ever been and Tech has been that way from the beginning. So I think it will be a great game to watch." MY PICK: Texas 24-27.