Each week, during college football season DPB’s Kyle Magin and Andrew J. Pridgen pour on the prose with Pints and Picks™. Who to wager and (sometimes) what to drink while doing it.

Twenty-four.

Twenty-five, if Tennessee fires football coach Butch Jones after I file this.

That’s how many bodies of fellow SEC coaches Nick Saban’s left outlined in chalk since hiring on with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007.

Those bodies—fat and skinny, a dude who ate grass, a dude who called hookers from his school-issued cell phone—belong to men who have been fired, quit, or resigned since Saban’s reign began. His seven Western Division titles and five league titles have claimed champs like Steve Spurrier and Les Miles, and chumps like Will Muschamp and Sly Croom. This week, Florida Coach Jim McElwain went down in a blaze of made-up death threats, running Saban’s death toll up to two dozen.

We’ve finally reached the stage in Saban’s tenure where he’s ruined the SEC product. Not only did he push a once-vibrant league into a stylistic morass that finds 10-3 scores to be the norm, but he’s ruined once-proud football programs along the way.

The unbelievable amount of pressure Saban brings to bear on any fellow SEC coach—mind you, only two of his contemporaries have ever beaten him (Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and A&M’s Kevin Sumlin), and they’ve only done it once apiece—by virtue of his ability to soundly whoop ass during any given season causes them to do all sorts of crazy things. The standard he sets—near-perfection—probably drove Hugh Freeze to seek comfort in the arms of a dial-a-hooker, and James Franklin to help cover up rape accusations at Vanderbilt. Les Miles won titles and still got chased out of Baton Rouge. Ole Miss stopped hiding the bag men the competition got so fierce. All of them are now afterthoughts—outside of Georgia, nobody in the league has a shot at the title or a ranking higher than Auburn at 14. Tennessee and Florida used to be perennial top 25 programs and are both now smoldering. A&M’s fortunes have neatly mirrored Johnny Manziel’s since the most entertaining college quarterback of all time left campus. Once ‘Bama undresses Georgia in the league title game next month, they’ll be it, the last man standing. It’s a takeover of Wal-Mart-level proportions.

I’d normally giggle about their misfortunes, but the rot is spreading to other conferences. Who else in the top 4—Georgia, ND, and Clemson—looks like they could unseat the Tide?

Even if they did, who would be there to unseat them the next year, the year after that, and the year after that? Saban’s teams will still be there. You can neatly trace the downfall of perennial contenders like Miami, USC, and LSU to Saban’s ascendance. Outside of Clemson, nobody has challenged the Tide over a multi-year period. Saban has the superteam, and anyone else who gets the shot is doing it with a core group of seniors and a few NFL-bound underclassmen, top-heavy rosters that don’t compare to Alabama’s five-stars-on-the-bench M.O. in successive years. The craziness in Gainesville and Knoxville is a symptom of the cancer—Nick Saban is a disease on college football, and it might not get better until he moves on.

On that dark note, AJ, I’ll turn it over to you. Picks in Michigan State-Penn State, Clemson-NC State, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, and Virginia Tech-Miami on the flop.

Hi Kyle,

Well, we resisted and we resisted but there it is, a full-on SEC take (or takedown?) Admittedly, I’m the worst to talk to re: trendspotting in ‘Merica’s Conference. While I could tell you, blindfolded, the depth chart of Colorado State’s DBs or what true freshman at the University of Nevada is going to find some action in the backfield this week, I watch and dissect the SEC with the same kind of regularity that I check the Keno scores whilst planning out parlays at the Green Valley Ranch book. Sure, they’re there, on the screen, right in front of me, but the dulcet digital balls filling their squares in methodic and soul-crushing fashion have nothing for me, so I ignore it.

So that’s why I feel, in a way you said better than me, nothing about the SEC.

It’s a restrained, boring, luke-warm mess. If Saban learned one thing during his tormented NFL tenure, it was how he could turn an institution of higher learning into The League’s 4A squad. He takes everything college football is supposed to be about (regional identifiers, blind-faith fandom, quirky stadia, girls getting thrown in the air in 2017) and julienned it like a baby carrot in an all-day pizza parlor buffet.

The SEC is the Chick-fil-A of college football and Saban is the night manager. Similar, tasteless, and non-offensive (unless you count their politics) and yet, somehow, draws a fucking crowd everywhere. Why is it that people would prefer a bland slab of meat that was abused from the moment it was born till the inglorious minute it was forced on a bun the consistency of whatever it all came packed in—to real food? Why would someone prefer Bama to actual football? I don’t know. I can’t tell. I never want to know.

Maybe because it feels safe, predictable. Maybe that’s all folks want anymore.

No, I know life isn’t all blistered shishitos with goat cheese and smoked egg bottarga or spicy beets with smoked chevre doused in a balsamic-soy, but for chrissake let’s have an 18-team playoff that at least will expose a national audience to some (Mike) Leach or some (Chris) Peterson side dishes.

‘K Kyle, I’ll wrap with UCLA/Utah, Nevada/Boise St., Texas/TCU and Oregon/UDub.

AJ,

Here it is. Readers, good luck at the book this weekend:

PSU @ Michigan State +9.5

Almost nobody runs away from the 5-2 Spartans, and I think that’ll include Penn State on what is assuredly going to be a foul afternoon in East Lansing (mid-40s and rainy.)

Clemson -8.5 @ NC State

Bet Clemson’s defense to score a few takeaways and take the wind out of the Wolfpack’s sails early.

Oklahoma +1.5 @ Oklahoma St.

I have a good feeling about Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield because he takes slightly better care of the ball (3 INT) than the Cowboys’ Mason Rudolph (5 INT) in a game that’s sure to feature a lot of airing it out.

LSU @ Alabama -21.5

Ed Orgeron will be on Saban’s list at some point.

Virginia Tech -1 @ Miami

I’m hopping off the ‘Cane train this week. The 7-0, (3-4 ATS) cardiac ‘Canes are going to run out of luck this week against the much more battle-tested Hokies. Don’t discount Miami looking ahead a week to a home matchup with Notre Dame that’ll have playoff implications.

Kyle,

One week a year I go straight Moneyline (betting the underdog to win outright.) I usually end up running the table; whether that’s 0-4 or 4-0 is up to the big wheel in the sky.

UCLA +5 @ Utah

UCLA is brilliant and terrible. Utah is terrible and brilliant. The Utes aren’t closers this year and UCLA’s o-line is healthy once more and its secondary seems to be gaining traction. Take the Bruins and the Moneyline.

Texas +7 @ TCU

Texas should have won both of its OT games this season (USC/OSU) and was handing Oklahoma from the second quarter on, but couldn’t seem to convert on their final drive. TCU was exposed vs. Iowa State, stack the box and don’t let their receivers get anything in the flat and you’re good. TCU is the fourth toughest opponent Texas has faced this year, and they should be hung with their second loss in as many weeks. Horns and the Moneyline.

Nevada +20 @ Boise State

The young and talented Wolfpack, after finding themselves on the wrong end of some early season blowouts, are finally finding their footing—4 of their last 4 ATS since Wazzu dismantled them in Pullman week 4. The pack played till the last down against heavily favored Colorado State and Air Force and is due for a defining win of the season. This is one where oddsmakers haven’t caught wind of the notion that Boise State is no longer Chris Peterson’s Boise State Smurf Turf juggernaut but more a top-third-tier of the Mountain West team in a town that is now regarded more for a cheaper cost of living than Seattle/Portland with lots of wood-paneled small plates restaurants popping up downtown. Nevada and the moneyline.  

And finally…

Oregon +28 vs. Washington

Sometimes, entire campaigns come down to a single game and this is that game for Oregon. Last season, the Mark Helfrich administration officially came to an end at Autzen as UDub came in and broke a 12-year losing streak in this Pac NW rivalry with a 70-21 plucking of the Ducks… enough to have covered the team’s five previous losses. New Oregon HC Willie Taggart has dealt with injuries and has not quite met fan expectations of an immediate turn around in Eugene; they looked lost like a kid in the produce section against Washington State and Stanford and only hung around one half for UCLA. However, the Ducks made strides last week with a surprise home win vs. Utah where finally their secondary seemed to have a little bit of an idea on how to read routes and DC Jim Leavitt’s blitz packages started to yield results. To that end, Oregon’s defensive look is most similar in the conference to Arizona State’s, the same team that held the no. 12 Huskies to a single score and possibly eliminated their chances to contend for the title in January. Yes, the Huskies present a playoff-ready package that is a lot for Oregon to overcome in Seattle, but stranger things have happened in November. Oregon and the Moneyline.

Last Week:

Kyle: 3 for 4

AJ: 2 and 2

Overall:

Kyle: 18 for 26

AJ: 16 for 28

This week:

AJ:

UCLA +5 @ Utah (Moneyline!)

Texas +7 @ TCU (Moneyline!)

Nevada +20 @ Boise State (Moneyline!)

Oregon +28 @ Washington (Moneyline!)

Kyle:

PSU @ Michigan State +9.5

Clemson -8.5 @ NC State

Oklahoma +1.5 @ Oklahoma St.

LSU @ Alabama -21.5

Virginia Tech -1 @ Miami

***

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, 75-plus percent of Puerto Rico is still without food and water and people are starting to get sick and die (109 total as of this posting and rising) from waterborne illnesses which is as third-world disastrous as it gets.

In the meantime, we have a president who thinks it’s OK—along with not dispatching the necessary help and supplies on the ground mostly as a result of his state department and FEMA have been strip-mined in dictatorial fashion—to  troll a US territory where his actions (rather, inaction) is creating death in its wake in an ever-escalating manner. This alone is an impeachable moment or a moment for his cabinet to remove the sick fuck from office invoking the 25th Amendment. Instead, the GOP tells to please stand by till they shove tax cuts through for their ultra-wealthy donors.

Below, a few orgs that can help, because we’ve fully entered the era of self-sufficiency where government and our elected officials have failed.

…So I’ll go ahead and throw in a quote and some links to help and move on to my picks, expeditiously. There is little time to waste: “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund

Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico

ConPRmetidos

Friends of Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans in Action

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