Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Weekend Predictions: Georgia over Auburn, Falcons over Cowboys


Before getting to this week's big game between Georgia and the Auburn Correctional Institute, this update from the world of Corporate Weasel Sports Executives.

According to various reports, including the New York Times, because Trump is in China so everybody's got some free time, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is attempting to block contract negotiations with NFL commissioner/Lord of the Flies Roger Goodell.

Jones isn't happy over a number of things, including a six-game suspension of Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott. So he's trying to force Goodell to take an incentive-based contract with less guaranteed salary.

This makes Goodell "furious." It's also hilarious. Considering: 1) He works for the owners; 2) His salary is $34.1 million per season; 3) He hovers over a league where player salaries are not guaranteed; 4) Did I mention he makes $34.1 million? 5) Everybody wants to punch him in the face.

Fresh "We Never Played The Game" podcast: Georgia Tech/NCAA allegations, Georgia-Auburn, Falcons-Cowboys and more. Click here.

It's a good thing Bud Selig retired before this idea of performance-based salary was introduced, otherwise the poor schlep would be living on the street. Unless he worked for Liberty Media, in which case nobody in the executive suite would even notice, and besides Terry McGuirk can get them all tee times at Augusta National.

Where was I?

So this week, Georgia plays Auburn. It's a big game that happens to coincide with other transactions among white-collar criminals. Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs announced he will step (be pushed) down after a "particularly difficult time" (arrests, lawsuits, corruption) that makes Auburn look even sleazier than usual (not really).

Auburn ranks among the central germs in the FBI's investigation into college basketball, was the target of a Title IX/sexual harassment complaint against the softball program, was the defendant in a wrongful termination suit by the baseball coach (who actually wasn't committing NCAA violations, as alleged), and that's just in the past seven minutes.

If you Google "Auburn probation," you get more hits than "soup recipes."

Hey, at least the football program is clean.

Or cleaner.

Today.

We think.

Georgia is 9-0. It has three games left before the SEC Championship game, and this is the last one that may cause problems. Auburn can talk itself into believing that if it beats Georgia, Alabama to win the SEC West and then Georgia again for the conference title, it can make the playoffs as a two-loss team.

Maybe. But that's as delusional as Jacobs walking into a house of worship and declaring, "I've got no sins to claim. I'm just here for the cookies."

Georgia's defense is too good. Jake Fromm will be good enough. No. 1 keeps rolling. Dogs win and cover 2½.

Old School

VaTech at GaTech: So the good news is that there's no pictures of Georgia Tech football players floating in a rich pal's swimming pool in Arizona. After losing to Virginia, that's about where the good news ends. And this is where Tech's bowl hopes may go kaboom. Hokies cover 3 on the Flats.

Notre Dame at Miami: This game has national appeal for the first time since Lou Holtz cheated and Jimmy Johnson recruited from south Florida penitentiaries, but that's probably just a coincidence. The Mark Richt Revival hits a speed bump: Irish win and cover 3.

I'd rather see this game again

Florida at South Carolina: The Gators allowed at least 42 points in consecutive games for the first time since 1917, but the good news is their streak of falsely reported death threats against their head coach ended at one. So, progress. Biggest question is whether Will Muschamp can stop laughing about all this before kickoff. Gamecocks cover 7.

Florida State at Clemson: Somebody tried to start a Jimbo Fisher-to-Texas A&M rumor. Unfortunately for Jimbo, nobody believed him. Tigers win, but take FSU and 16.

N.C. State at Boston College: Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren insinuated Clemson cheated last week by having a laptop on the sideline, to which Clemson coach Dabo Swinney responded that a trainer had merely jumped on Amazon because the Tigers had "a crisis -- a dire need of towels. We were trying to get one of them drones to come in and drop some towels on the sideline." Dabo has gotten funnier since he's won a title. Doeren: just whiny. N.C. State covers 3.

Dabo does stand-up comedy

Kentucky at Vanderbilt: Just kidding.

Georgia State at Texas State: The Panthers can become bowl-eligible. LBJ went to Texas State. My research blows away analytics. Panthers cover 6.

Large boulder on Tennessee campus was recently painted with loving sentiment.

Tennessee at Missouri: Former Volunteers All-America lineman Antone Davis stepped down as the program's "Vol For Life" coordinator, calling it, "One of the worst work experiences I've ever had" and saying he endured, "constant intimidation, bullying and mental abuse" from coach Butch Jones. For a minute there I thought he was still on the team. Mizzou covers 11.

1 Percent Problems

The decision is in on Ezekiel Elliott.

Cowboys at Falcons: Possible domestic abuser Ezekiel Elliott has nine touchdowns and 27 court appearances, which may or may not be a Cowboys record, but he won't play this game after losing his latest appeal in court. Jones said he's "100 percent" against domestic violence, except in cases where the cretin also can pass rush (Greg Hardy) or run for 1,600 yards (Elliott), in which case that percentage is negotiable. Possibly down to zero. In other news, the Falcons stink. But they're due. And desperate. Birds win and cover 3.

Panthers at Dolphins: Cam Newton referenced the Kelvin Benjamin trade after the win over the Falcons, saying, "We lost a great player, but nevertheless the Titanic still has to go." His other go-to analogy is, "The Hindenburg still has to fly." Carolina wins, but take Miami and 9.

Cam Newton on Wheel of Fortune

Jets at Buccaneers: Quarterback Jameis Winston has morphed back into the 6-year-old at Florida State, less the crab legs, Mike Evans was suspended for cheap-shotting a New Orleans player and Dirk Koetter's "team on the rise" has lost five consecutive. Wow. The Jets must feel like they're in some alternate universe. New York covers 2½ on the road.

Steelers at Colts: Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay isn't always lucid and sometimes borders on buffoon -- I'm getting to a compliment, trust me --  but he might not be completely wrong when he says Andrew Luck's shoulder injury has seeped into his head. But Luck is smart enough to not play this week. Steelers cover 10.

Bengals at Titans: Former Bulldog A.J. Green went all WWE and when he grabbed Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey in a choke hold and threw him to the ground after being called "soft." Could've used that move against Florida. Feelin' frisky. Take the 4 and Cincinnati in a straight upset.

For Georgia fans

Texans at Rams: The Rams have the coach of the year in Sean McVay.  Houston has ... Go Astros! Rams cover 11.

Toteboard

"Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives."--Oscar Wilde

Last week (yech): 10-5 straight up, 4-8-3 against the spread.

Through 10 weeks: 104-32 straight up, 68-64-4 against the spread.

Lilly's pick:  Lilly is rolling. She's 7-2 this season. This week, her choices were cheese'd pictures of the Auburn eagle and Uga. Lilly went left. To the bird! Upset! The dog goes against the Dogs and picks Auburn.

Fresh "We Never Played The Game" podcast: Georgia Tech/NCAA allegations, Georgia-Auburn, Falcons-Cowboys and more. Click here.

Subscribe to the,We Never Played The Game” podcast with the AJC's Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.