Pints and Picks Week 3: Desperados and false bravados

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Each week DPB’s Kyle Magin and Andrew J. Pridgen will pour on the prose with Pints and Picks™. Who to wager and what to drink while doing it. Here then, is their point-counterpoint for Sept 20, 2014. Or, if you’re in the car, simply scroll down for the recap (they may be verbose, but it’s better than clicking through a slideshow).

AJ: Most weeks, I start with some obscure forgotten ’90s pop culture reference like the episode of My Two Dads entitled “Sex, Judge and Rock and Roll” whereas Michael goes on a date with a woman who turned Joey down (inferring that both of said two Dads are, in fact, decidedly straight …along with boring).

The date brings friction between the Dad(s) but that quickly ebbs as the woman ends up being engaged to an unnamed third party, or at least telling that to Paul Reiser when he’s about to go for the stretch-over-the-shoulder-and-lean-in-on-the-couch move. No go there. And no step-mother for Nicole either.

This was some tough stuff lesson-learnin’ for Nicole as well as the sweater and t-neck-wearing patriarchs: gotta let a ho be a ho. But it wasn’t just a one-off. That mix-up a reflection of the whole premise of the series. Nicole’s mom, before she passed, banged both Joey and Michael with such frequency they didn’t know which one was her baby’s father.

That’s crazy, right?

So you see how it works, it’s like cycles repeating.

This week, instead of belabored references to scrunchie-wearing sitcoms to make a point, I’m going to cut straight to the action: The theme of which is, not surprisingly, cycles repeating.

About once a decade, both Cal and Arizona produce good football teams. And it usually happens in tandem. 2008 was the last time Cal made a run finishing 9-4 under coach Jeff Tedford and rolling up the Miami Hurricanes 24-17 playing football on a baseball field at the Emerald Bowl. That same year, the Arizona Wildcats finished a compelling 8-5 capping the season by taking down BYU in the Vegas Bowl (no small feat considering how not-hung-over the Cougs were) with coach Mike Stoops at the helm in Tucson.

Sonny Dykes, Cal’s current head coach, was then offensive coordinator of the Wildcats. Now Dykes’ new-look Bears (2-0) meet up with his former check-cutter, the similarly unblemished 3-0 Wildcats.

It’s too early to anoint Cal or Arizona as the next Boise State and TCU of the Pac-12, but a pair of promising young arms under center—Bay Area product and true sophomore Jared Goff for Cal and Vegas recruit Anu Solomon, a redshirt freshman for the Wildcats who’s been nothing short of the second-coming of, um, Matt Scott (Arizona is typically not quarterback U), will if nothing else compete to play spoiler to the juggernauts of the conference (double-circle: Oregon/Cal at Levis stadium Friday, Oct. 24).

The true test for who will stand up and start their team’s journey down the road to Las Vegas in late December jumps off Saturday night in Tucson.

The line opened at Arizona -14 which is basically like digging through your Taco Bell bag at 2 am and discovering an extra burrito. Whether you forgot you ordered it or they just put a bonus bean-and-cheeser in there doesn’t matter. The fact is, it’s there and the sun is shining on you this day. The Bears are pretty sub-par (4-6) against the spread over their last ten games, but they’re 4-1 in their last five. Double-digit points to Cal, even on the road, is easier money than loose change in a busker’s guitar case on Telegraph.

Though it paid to buy early this week (Arizona’s currently sitting at -10 and will probably be down to three field goals or fewer by close Saturday), Cal and the points is a safe bet this week. Arizona showed they can get manhandled when the possession arrow doesn’t point their way as Nevada had three drives of 13 plays or more last Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

Though the final score didn’t reflect the lopsided play, the Wolf Pack had the ball almost 40 minutes. A late four-down stop by the Wildcats showed they can come up with enough to win at home, but Cal’s air attack may well prove fatal for Rich Rodriguez’s porous secondary.

The only equalizer is the Wildcats’ suddenly resurgent ground attack to compliment Solomon’s threat in the pocket. True freshman Nick Wilson has rushed for 350 yards the last two games and Cal’s front five should leave more gaps for Wilson to exploit than a bachelorette bar crawl. This can only mean I also like the over (70.5).

Kyle, I got through this entire first offering without mentioning you went oh-fer last week. You proud of me?

Kyle: AJ, thanks for the reminder of my utter failure last week. Why anyone would read my portion of our little back-n-forths is entirely intriguing to me–I don’t so much want to thank them as have them committed for further study.

I originally thought I’d come into this week’s Pints and Picks (I’m drinking straight Ketel right now) in a contrite mood and ensure the reader that the sun indeed doesn’t shine on the same dog’s ass every day. But after today I’m pretty ¯_(ツ)_/¯ about the whole thing.

This afternoon I got two lessons in modesty. One was received when, like a dumb idiot, I hiked to the highest point in my town to take pictures of a large fire in the area. I coughed the whole way back down and had nill to show for my efforts—the enveloping smoke rendered all my photos pointless because there was nothing to see. Lesson the second came just before I got back to my car. My dog—I won’t lie to anyone by enhancing her portrayal with a descriptor like ‘trusty,’ or ‘good’—broke a nail half-off, while the remainder hung on her foot like a shotty amputation job at Antietam. Thus stricken, we hacked and limped our way back to my car, then onto the grocery store for Aspirin. What transpired next was a bloodbath of minor proportions.

I cleverly disguised the Aspirin in a quarter-pound of overpriced cheese to get her to take it and then clamped on her muzzle. We spent the next 15 minutes playing pin the puppy whilst she bled on about 12 square feet of an apartment I’ll never see the deposit back on. We wrestled, cut, bled and squirmed our way down a hallway (had to flip on multiple switches to get enough light to continue my Jack the Ripper bit). Finally I removed the centimeter-long offense and we collapsed for roughly 10 minutes panting and exchanging dirty glances. I rose to find myself splattered in dog hair, blood and dirt while she happily begged for and received a treat and pat on the head.

The world’s a fickle thing.

Anyway, sorry to anyone who bet along with me last week. Gambling is likely to lose you money.

This week I’m most intrigued by the prime-time showdown in Tallahassee. Clemson is being very Clemson this year—everything looked good on paper, and then Dabo Swinney got owned by Mark Richt’s Georgia squad in week one and Tigers fans started concerning themselves with the Braves’ wild card chances and looking for an appropriate autumn Croakies-and-topsiders ensemble. Then, lightning struck twice in week two.

First, the Tigers predictably got back on track in a big way against South Carolina State (73-7) and ‘Noles QB Jameis Winston yelled “f— her right in the p—y!” at FSU’s student union, because that’s a great look on a questionably-acquitted alleged rapist.

The Rhodes Scholar decision got Winston suspended for the first half and suddenly Clemson’s +14.5 got A LOT more interesting. Sure, the Tigers will have problems with the Noles run game, but without Winston to open the field up with his arm, an FSU offense that converts less than 37 percent of its 3rd downs suddenly looks very human. The big question will be can Clemson keep in close in the two quarters before Mr. Heisman comes back? I think if they continue to mix in true freshman QB Deshaun Watson—who bothered Georgia for a long passing touchdown—to offset senior Cole Stoudt’s decidedly more plodding style, they could give the ‘Noles D some trouble.

With that I’ll slide the mic back on over to you, AJ. I have a shower to take.

AJ: Wash last week right out of your hair. Atta boy!

Men are curious creatures. We have this strange symbiotic relationship with desperation. All men, are desperate. It’s in our DNA. We were desperate to crawl from the swamp, desperate to take a bite of the apple and, on any given Friday evening at 1:53 am. we are desperate to be anywhere than where we are and with anyone besides ourselves. Desperation is the giant balloon payment, the golden parachute, the Lloyd’s of London policy that insures this cracked test tube and stained lab coat experiment will stick around for one more whirl of the centrifuge to see what comes up next.

I break down desperation into three categories:

1) Just got dumped/ditched/hit-bottom please-like-me-again stage. Otherwise known as the pupa stage of desperation. Why? Because other, more advanced beings in nature have learned to cope with this stage by hibernating or creating a cocoon. Wrapping oneself in a protected coating and sleeping it off until you can come out a better, stronger, more beautiful, more natural being. Humans don’t have that option so we go get drunk and pretend everything’s OK only to really really let it get to us at a certain point in the evening and melt it on down, usually in public.

2) The I’m-going-to-get-revenge-like-Denzel stage. Why do people still go see Denzel Washington movies? Because he does Stage 2 better than anyone (sorry Liam, it’s true). It’s the straight barnstorming, devil-may-care, my-attitude-is-worse-than-yours stage that just burns down everything in its wake. It’s the make-bad-decisions-and-see-them-through-to-the-tune-of-your-own-demise stage. Otherwise known as probably the ‘fun’ stage of desperation. I think that’s pretty much where Kyle was with his picks last week: because in this stage, you still hold on to something. You still feel like you might be right, or all right, but what that feeling is is you trying to convince yourself that things are OK or they’re not that bad or they can’t get any worse …or, even more harmfully so, you should send that text. Well, things are not OK in the revenge stage and you should be thankful your phone died. Don’t ask the bartender if he’s got a charger in this stage, please.

3) The fuck-it stage. You’ve tried everything and you’ve lived through the three Rs: remorse, revenge, regret Now there’s nothing else to do but say, ‘Fuck it.” Now, here’s the thing, there’ s the fake fuck-it stage and the real fuck-it stage. Some guys go out and say ‘you know what, tonight I’m just going to say fuck it and see what happens’ or ‘fuck it, I’m going to change my LinkedIn photo to me wearing cargo shots and a mesh half-tee’ or ‘fuck it, I’m going to 10:30 lunch.’ That’s the fake fuck-it stage. The real fuck-it stage comes when you’re not thinking about saying fuck-it, you just are fucking going for it. BIG difference. The only problem is you won’t know till you’re actually there. And once you arrive you’re like ‘why wasn’t i doing this the WHOLE time?’ Well, it’s like asking why you’re not happy all the time or why every beer that night doesn’t taste good as the first one. It’s just how things go.

And stage three is fleeting. It could last a night or two weeks or a month if you’re lucky, and then, you just kind of go back to being you …and waiting for stage one again.

With that, I don’t bet against the guy in stage two going to stage three, so I do like your Clemson-and-the-points call. I’m going to raise you with my Marquee Moneyline Pick of the Week™ Utah at Michigan.

We’re a solid four weeks into the college football season. The spreads are starting to clinch cheeks like they’re in an hour-plus work meeting and the big early week surprises are out of the way. With the exception of this one: To the rest of the country, the Wolverines as three-point favorites at home against a bottom-tier Pac-12 team seems like a no-brainer, and I have to admit, the thus-far-untested (though deepest bench and second-fastest team in the division) Utes seem like a long-shot to march into Ann Arbor and get their biggest road W since, well, since 2008 when they came into Michigan Stadium and spoiled Rich Rodriguez’s debut.

Consider this, everyone knows Michigan’s O-line is in a rebuilding year and blue has nobody coming off the corners on defense with not a whole lot of run stopability to complete the trifecta-of-questions on both sides of the ball; and nobody, NOBODY seems to know anything about Utah.

Well, here’s what you need to know:

1) They’re speedy: Dres Anderson, the Utes’ NFL-combine-ready wideout leads a squad that is fast and precise and fast. Dres more than stretches the field in the college game, he expands it and makes it look foolish and comes back and taunts it then he catches a seven-yard out-route and scores. The untested Michigan secondary comprised of Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers don’t really have much on Dres and his training at altitude.

2) They’re greedy: Utah is averaging 57.7 points/game this season, more than anyone else ever. Michigan and Utah also have the two most points-giving-up defenses in D-1. Last year Utah was 82 and Michigan 83rd in the world respectively. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner may have more time in the pocket and won’t bumble around like the Notre Dame game (five turnovers: three ints and two fumbles) but he will also be more confused than someone walking in on the middle of Cloud Atlas by the Utes’ 3-3-5 which is also (yep) fast.

3) They’re Utahns: Some things you might want to know about Utes fans: Most are secular but still get drunk off more than one 3.2 beer. They still haven’t forgiven Joe Smith’s henchmen for killing 120 men, women and children on Sept. 11, 1857 in the Mountain Meadow Massacre. They subsist off Mountain Dew (Root Beer is brewed for the chosen ones) and this thing called Fry Sauce (basically Thousand Island minus the pickle relish). They eat at the Pie Pizzeria which is like this incredible dark basement St. Elmo’s Fire-type establishment that serves salty, chewy slices that are strangely addictive. There are no campus bars. Little Cottonwood is only like 35 mins away and B&D Burgers are effing delicious but Hires Big H is where it’s at. Oh, Brighton is the place to slay on a pow day and they get the jokes on Big Love, mostly because they went to school with all of that.

OK Kyle, I’m going to go look at Red Iguana’s cheesy-ass website and drool now.

Kyle: AJ, you’re sweet, you know any talk of Michigan getting upset at home is the equivalent of a fake ID that actually worked for me. It’s buoying, and now I just have to order a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale like I belong at the bar.

(Yes, I’m going to be that Midwesterner stumping for Bell’s until all of you have tried it. It’s the perfect, perfect 7-percenter in that it keeps you upright while subtly erasing your give-a-shit. Have one after work with your buddy on the deck, and on the deck you’ll still be at quarter to 11, when you realize that all the going out you planned to do isn’t nearly as important as another markup-free beer, a good conversation and access to your own bathroom.)

The game you’ll want to lose your afternoon to will be in Morgantown, where Clint Trickett and the West Virginia Mountaineers host the Oklahoma Sooners (-8).

Much has been made about Oklahoma’s newly revamped defense with the bone-crushing Eric Striker at linebacker and a d-line which has picked up 11 sacks this year. They’re giving up just 11 points per game and Mike Stoops is back in the press box as the team’s defensive coordinator. But, I don’t think they’re ready for Trickett (also, Clint Trickett is the most appropriate name ever for a hillbilly state school quarterback. You can just see him crushing a peel-top Miller heavy can on his way into the practice field parking lot with a Marlboro dangling from a driving hand coolly steering the General Lee into a handicap spot. You already know Skynyrd is playing on the stereo) who is averaging 410 yards per game.

Against middling to weak competition through three games, the Sooners have managed to bend but not break, giving up 36 passing first downs—stunningly unimpressive for such a top-flight defense. I think Trickett finds a way in from the red zone and we’ve suddenly got a shootout on our hands. Now, if we accept the fact that OU’s defense will stone the Mountaineers offense, the onus falls to Sooners QB Trevor Knight to pace or pass Trickett’s output with his steady o-line and receivers and young running backs. He may well do it, but I’m guessing the Mountaineers cover.

AJ, I’m going to pass the rock back to you while I queue up the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ theme song.

AJ: Six million hits for the Dukes’ theme song and the Sooners going down, I can’t argue with that. Desperado, you may have come to your senses this week my friend.

The PnP Recap:

Last week:
AJ: 4-6
Kyle: 0-5

Overall:
AJ: 5-9
Kyle: 0-6

This week:
AJ:
• Cal +8 at Arizona, over 70
• Utah +3 at Michigan (moneyline)

Kyle:
• Clemson +10.5 at FSU
• Vest Virginia +8 vs Oklahoma

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