If you are among the most lucky to attend the Tennessee-Florida football game in Knoxville tomorrow, you may be able to buy one of the “special” orange T-shirts that has a white “8” on it and the word “BRAY” above it. What makes the T-shirt so special is that UT quarterback Tyler Bray’s last name is an actual replica of the very real shoulder-to-shoulder tattoo the Vol star actually wears on his skin.
That’s right, Tyler has “B-R-A-Y” tattooed in big letters on the back of his shoulders in a mixture of stars and disco-type dancing letters and, for not a whole lot of money, you can get an orange T-shirt that shows your loyalty to the team, reflects the pain of the artist’s needle, and shows your allegiance to the sparking junior who’ll take the Vols through the “T” just before the 6 p.m. kickoff.
Candidly, Bray’s graphic image is nothing to compare with the full chest of tattoo ink that Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron wears under his jersey, but, if it’s a T-shirt in crimson you want, not to worry! Evidently there is something sinister called The Church of Satan and its symbol is a circle with the beast inside of it and these lines connecting key points.
The Alabama T-shirt, called “The Church of Saban” model, has a red elephant in its center with lines drawn to such things as the “Old No. 7” seen on a Jack Daniels whiskey bottle, dollar signs, a hounds tooth hat and goodness knows what else.
The “Church of Saban” shirt isn’t quite as bad as the “Osama Bin Saban” posters that were popular in New Orleans at the end of last year’s season where a likeness of the Alabama coach had a script “A” on the front of the turban and a scraggly beard had been airbrushed on Nick’s chops.
But, please, you’ve got to hurry because it is said supplies are limited. Those offering the T-shirt warn that it must be bought before the game -- to assure proper sizing -- but indicate that if the Gators prevail tomorrow there is a slight chance remaining stock could be sold at a discount.
That said, here is how I am picking this Saturday’s games:
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CALIFORNIA (1-1) at No. 12 OHIO STATE (2-0), 12:00 Noon (ABC) – OSU’s Braxton Miller set a school record for a Buckeye QB last week when he ran for 141 yards on 27 carries to throttle Central Florida but coach Urban Meyer wasn’t pleased. "We have to play better around him to eliminate some of those carries," said Meyer, who was miffed because some of Miller's runs were because he had no other choice. "My, gosh, is he a good runner. And we all see that. So we just have to be a little smarter." Look for OSU, a heady 17-point pick, to play much smarter in an early game that will be over in a hurry. MY PICK? Ohio State, 38-10.
WAKE FOREST (2-0) at FLORIDA STATE (2-0), 12:00 Noon (ESPN) – Yeah, FSU is favored by 28 and the reason is the same one that had the ‘Noles a 70-point favorite in last week’s blowout over hapless Savannah State. FSU has speed and talent to burn and, against a team that has won two games by a total of four points, this one should be a romp. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher on being such a heavy favorite: "Where in the world did that come from?" he gasped. "I don't see all that. We need to worry about how we play and what we do." MY PICK? Florida State, 45-9.
No. 1 ALABAMA (2-0) at ARKANSAS (1-1), 3:30 p.m. (CBS) – Alabama is a three-TD favorite, largely because concussion prone Hog QB Tyler Wilson probably shouldn’t even play after head injuries the last two weeks. Without Wilson, this could be the longest afternoon in Razorback Stadium (that’s right; last week’s 34-31 loss to La-Monroe was in Little Rock) so when the Tide starts to rise, look for the CBS viewers to quickly bale because the Arkansas defense will quickly wilt. MY PICK? Alabama, 38-10.
VIRGINIA (2-0) at GEORGIA TECH (1-1), 3:30 p.m. ESPNU – Forget the 59 points the Jackets hung on Presbyterian last week, the reason GT is a 10-point pick is because they played so tough in the 20-17 loss to No. 13 Va. Tech. UVa squeaked past Penn State by 2 so you have to think that the speed will rule in Atlanta. We’ll get a better measure of GT next week against Miami but right now the ‘Jackets are clicking. MY PICK? Georgia Tech, 29-14.
TEXAS A&M (0-1) at SOUTHERN METHODIST (1-1), 3:30 p.m. (FSN) – Johnny Manziel, A&M’s freshman QB, learned he’s “not the fastest guy on the field” anymore in the stirring 20-17 loss to Florida last week but there is no doubt the Aggies will be improved after their SEC debut. SMU was shredded in the 59-24 Baylor opener so this is a case where the drop-off is considerable. SMU, a 13-point underdog in Dallas, doesn’t have the ability to adjust after intermission like the Gators did. MY PICK? Texas A&M, 28-10.
NORTH CAROLINA (1-1) at No. 19 LOUISVILLE (2-0), 3:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN2) – UofL coach Charlie Strong is saying the same thing as the experts when he finds his Cardinals as the 19th best team in the country: “When you look at a team that is a nationally ranked team, you'd like to say you are a junior-senior team and we're not there yet," he said. "We're still growing, we're still maturing. I really don't know where we are right now." UofL has given up only 3 TDs but UNC wasn’t exactly a force last week in the 28-27 win over Wake. That said, I think the Cards are more than a 3-point favorite. MY PICK? Louisville, 27-10.
No. 18 FLORIDA (2-0) at No. 23 TENNESSEE (2-0), 6:00 p.m. (ESPN) – Before the season there weren’t many who would have said UT would be favored by three over the unbeaten Gators but the Vols’ balanced attack and the Sunseri defense are making quick believers in the Vol Nation. The keys will be UT QB Tyler Bray, who thrives under fire, and Tennessee’s ability to rattle UF soph Jeff Driskel. Compare the two QBs and you may predict the outcome. MY PICK? Tennessee 23-17.
No. 2 SOUTHERN CAL (2-0) at No. 21 STANFORD (2-0), 7:30 p.m. (FOX) – After Lane Kiffin tried unsuccessfully to ban a sports writer for revealing a news tip this week, Stanford became “America’s Team” but the Cardinal, a 9-point underdog, simply can’t match talent with the Trojans. San Jose lost to SU by only 3 before the Cardinal thumped Duke by 37 last week, which isn’t nearly as impressive as USC averaging 45 points in the first two games. MY PICK? Southern Cal, 36-21.
No. 20 NOTRE DAME (2-0) at No. 10 MICHIGAN STATE (2-0), 8:00 p.m. (ABC) – ND, a team that has lost six straight road games to a ranked opponent, is a 6-point underdog to a MSU team that has not given up an offensive TD yet and yields just an average of 225 yards in rushing. Before you say, no problem, remember that last year unranked ND clipped then No. 15 MSU, 15-13, and that the history between these two is fierce. MSU QB Andrew Maxwell played well last week but ND is shaky at the position with Everett Golson getting a slight nod ahead of Tommy Rees. And keep an eye on Spartan runner LeVon Bell. MY PICK? Michigan State, 27-17.
No. 14 TEXAS (2-0) at OLE MISS (2-0), 9:15 p.m. (ESPN) – The Rebs are surprising, generating 550 yards a game with QB Bo Wallace, but Texas “clowned around” in two early breathers and this will be a good litmus test for both. Texas, of course, is solid but UM has a new coach, a rookie QB, and hardly the talent after losing 18 of the last 24 games. Ole Miss beat Texas-El Paso, 28-10, last week but Texas -- favored by 11 -- would have clobbered UTEP by much more. Look for Texas to take charge early. MY PICK? Texas, 39-14.
ELSEWHERE IN THE SEC
LOUISIANA-MONROE (1-0) at AUBURN (0-2), 12:21 p.m. (SEC Network) – In last week’s shocking 34-31 upset over then No. 8 Arkansas, Monroe went for it on fourth down seven different times. So you can expect the same kind of gambling as the Warhawks go after a second “game guarantee” in Auburn. Between Arkansas and Auburn, the small school will glean $1.1 million but after AU lost to Miss. State last week, Monroe wants a victory as well. Auburn is a 16-point favorite. MY PICK? Auburn, 24-17.
PRESBYTERIAN (1-1) at VANDERBILT (0-2), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3) – Vanderbilt will doubtlessly whip tiny Presbyterian after Georgia Tech mauled the Blue Hose, 59-3, last week so the better question is what will happen next week when Georgia comes to town. Vandy has to avoid injuries but don’t expect a lot of razzle-dazzle because a win here will be a blessing after being embarrassed by South Carolina and Northwestern. MY PICK? Vanderbilt, 38-6.
WESTERN KY. (1-1) at KENTUCKY (1-1), 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU) – There are many who feel like UK could be in jeopardy after the ragged loss to Louisville but WKU is hardly in the same class. Kentucky is a 7-point favorite, which is a little low, so I’m thinking this will be the last time the ‘Cats will be favored until they host Samford on Nov. 17 and that’s not a given. MY PICK? Kentucky, 27-10.
ALA-BIRMINGHAM (0-1) at No. 8 SOUTH CAROLINA (2-0), 7:00 p.m. (FSN) – Whether or not ailing QB Connor Shaw starts for Carolina doesn’t mean a thing. South Carolina is favored by 34 and the Gamecock fans are eager to host Missouri next week. MY PICK? South Carolina, 41-7.
ARIZONA STATE (2-0) at MISSOURI (1-1), 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2) – ASU blistered Illinois, 45-14, so this could get dicey. UM is a 6-point pick after losing by 21 to Georgia and, while UGa played well, the fact Mizzou is in the SEC won’t mean much unless QB James Franklin can do a better job of “cashing the check.” MY PICK? Missouri, 35-27.
MISS. STATE ((2-0) at TROY (1-1), 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3) – State’s 28-10 win over Auburn was huge for the program but with the NCAA hounds snapping, the fame didn’t last long. Troy, a 37-24 loser to the University of Louisiana (Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns), is a 17-point underdog, which you should remember Nov. 3 when Troy plays at Tennessee. MY PICK? Miss. State, 33-14
FLA. ATLANTIC (1-1) at No. 7 GEORGIA (2-0), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3) – Georgia’s 24 points late in the second half of the Missouri game were fun to watch. “We finished in the fourth quarter, on the road and in a hostile environment," said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. "For our guys to go there, finish like they did and win it, shows the character of this football team.” Georgia is favored by 42. MY PICK? Georgia, 45-6.
IDAHO (0-2) at No. 3 LSU (2-0), 8:00 p.m. (ESPN) – LSU lost starting linebacker Tahj Jones and three other players to academics, which will be of small consequence against Idaho – the Tigers are favored by 42 – but could loom large in the crucial weeks to come. LSU has scored 41 in each of the first two games and with Auburn and Towson rounding out September, it seems like the season won’t really get going until October. MY PICK? LSU, 47-7.