Jeff Schultz

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

Weekend Predictions: Jacksonville on Halloween? Ooh, scary: Gators over Dogs


According to legend, my favorite source, and certainly a more accurate one than Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who referred to Greg Hardy as a great "leader" and then named Genghis Khan and Attila The Hun as his new coordinators and Mao as special teams coach, Halloween has its origins in the festival of "Samhain," which came around the ninth century, when Jones last had a soul.

I like to think of this little guy as the Evil Gnome of Florida games past.

During Samhain, pastures were cleared, the weather turned cold and it was believed the souls of the dead returned to visit their homes, prompting villagers to light fires and wear masks in hopes of scaring away evil spirits. This tradition continues even today, with children dressing up as witches, demons, goblins, ghosts, NFL owners, presidential candidates, Kardashians and Bobby Petrino.

This year's Georgia-Florida game falls on Halloween. There hasn't been such a perfect confluence of events since Eve took a bite of the apple and Adam put on his Marvin Gaye album.

Welcome to the ghosts of Jacksonville past. We need only drift back to last season, when Georgia was favored by 13, and the Underworld laughed that evil laugh, and Mark Richt got that wildebeest look in his eyes, and Florida ran for 418 yards, stepping on corpses along the way, and pounded the Trembling Chihuahuas 38-20.

So here we are again. Except Florida is favored this time. Because Las Vegas will NEVER make that mistake again. The line says Gators by 3. Appropriate. The Dogs may use that many quarterbacks.

If Georgia wins this game, it will be in the driver's seat to win the SEC East.

"If Georgia wins this game..." How many times have I typed that sentence?

Oh look: a cliff.

Feel free to dance with Dogs and the points. I've seen too much. Gators cover 3.

My kind of underworld

Between Mandatory Classes (Optional)

Georgia Tech at Virginia: The Jackets won last week on a 78-yard return following a blocked 56-yard field goal but the best part was watching a panicked Paul Johnson yelling to returner Lance Austin, "Get away from the ball!" Clever, PJ. You fooled us! So note to all opponents: When Johnson looks like all of the blood has rushed from his head, it's a trick! Jackets cover 6.

Mississippi at Auburn: So I guess the shine has come off Gus Malzahn. Auburn is 3-7 in its last 10 SEC games. Its only conference win this season came by a field goal over Kentucky, which doesn't really count. It's most impressive win this year probably came against San Jose State. So this would've been a good year to be in the Mountain West. Ole Miss covers 7½.

Prediction? For Auburn?

South Carolina at Texas A&M: Steve Spurrier was planning to go as an invertebrate for Halloween but as it turns out he doesn't need the costume. Aggies cover the 16½.

Tennessee at Kentucky: Tennessee has a chance to run the table with a remaining schedule of Kentucky, South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri and Vanderbilt. That probably would lead to a contract extension for Butch Jones and fantasies of a national title run in 2016 because nobody in Knoxville would stop to think, "Wait, all we did was beat Kentucky, South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri and Vanderbilt." Citrus Bowl Drive: Vols cover 8½.

Every SEC fan rolled into one (tip from reader A. Bowman)

Syracuse at Florida State: Syracuse thought bubble: "Just get it over with." Seminoles cover 20½.

Louisville at Wake Forest: Bobby Petrino is now like the harmless, old innkeeper in a Scooby Doo cartoon after the kids realized he was the one making all of those ghost noises because he didn't want the Walmart built. Louisville covers 12.

Virginia Tech at Boston College: B.C. is the orange marshmallow circus peanuts of college football. Hokies cover 2.

Miami at Duke: The  formation of a search committee to replace coach Al Golden has been pushed back to October of 2027, when Nevin Shapiro is released from federal prison. Complete coincidence. See, this is what happens when you try to run a clean, felony-free program in south Florida. Duke covers 10.

Pros and Cons

Matt Ryan needs a market correction Sunday.

Tampa Bay at Falcons: Not to alarm anybody but rookie Jameis Winston's touchdown-to-interception ratio (9-7) is almost the same as Matt Ryan's (9-6). If this isn't market correction week, there's a problem. Falcons cover 7.

Seahawks at Pompeii: Neanderthal Greg Hardy already was admonished for his behavior by combustible teammate Dez Bryant and now he's being called out by Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, who three years ago was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. So there you go. Hardy even gives crazy a bad name. Seattle covers 6.

Giants at Saints: Sean Payton admitted this week the Saints were targeting wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the draft but New York took him first. Just as well. Payton can coach him next year. Saints cover 3.

Rams' future is brighter than St. Louis'.

49ers at Rams: The NFL held a public hearing for Rams fans on the St. Louis stadium issue this week. One league official, Cynthia Hogan, said, "After listening to all of the speakers tonight, it’s hard for me to imagine there’s a city in the United States that has better fans." Question: So why were five metal detectors and three bomb-sniffing dogs needed at the theater? (No, seriously.) San Francisco has a stadium but it doesn't have Todd Gurley: Rams cover 8½.

Packers at Broncos: Peyton Manning is way funnier than Aaron Rodgers in commercials. But 7 touchdowns/10 interceptions vs. 15 touchdowns/2 interceptions? Not so funny. Sing this, Peyton: "Na-tion-wide-is-switch-ing-sides." Packers cover 3.

Colts at Panthers: Since a 3-8-1 start last season, Carolina has won 10 straight regular season games and is 11-1 including the playoffs. Meanwhile, Chuck Pagano's parking key card stopped working this week but the Colts told him they can't get him a new one until January. (They always fall for that.) Carolina wins but take Indy and 7.

Lilly prefers cigars to rawhides.

Lilly's Pick

Georgia vs. Florida: I don't believe Lilly has ever gone against her species in this game. But this year was a test. Salami pieces were slapped up on pictures of mascots Uga (right) and Albert (left). Lilly didn't hesitate. She went straight to Albert. GATORS!

Accountability scorecard

football-gambling

“There are many harsh lessons to be learned from the gambling experience but the harshest one of all is the difference between having fun and being smart.” – Hunter S. Thompson.

Last week: 11-2 straight up, 7-6 against the line.

Bottom line: 72-32 straight up; 52-50-2 against the line.

Sack Schultz update: Code name "Hammer63" from Alabama leads with 93 wins as we head down the stretch for the Chick-fil-A Bowl tickets and the $2.5000 Apple gift card. I'm within striking distance at 83. Weekly prize winners last week: Linda Owens (12-3) and Daniel Conlin (13-2) To enter, go to AJC.com/go/sackschultz2015 .

I'm pretty sure Lilly's picture is on "WANTED" posters at kennels all over Athens.


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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.