Before getting to this week's big game between Mark Richt and the coach who has sometimes ruined his drives home, this update from the NCAA's petri dish:
Auburn, the traditional center of the SEC's germ universe, recently celebrated its basketball program moving into the FBI's top-10 rankings following the arrest of an assistant coach, who shockingly works for Bruce Pearl, who's as pure as the driven snow, assuming the snow is falling over Chernobyl.
This follows the abrupt "retirement" of the softball coach after sexual-harassment complaints by players, stemming from the raging hormonal pursuits/conquests of the coach's son (who perhaps has a future in Hollywood).
There's more. Auburn's former baseball coach was fired for breaking NCAA rules. The problem was the NCAA later determined he didn't break rules. So he's suing the school for wrongful termination.
This leaves open the possibility the coach was fired for NOT breaking rules. At least that's what I'm going with.
And now this: There are allegations, first reported by ESPN, that a part-time academic support-staff member took a final exam for at least one football player from the 2015 team. Auburn issued a strong denial. We're waiting for the punchline.
Hey, look at this way: At least this possible corruption involves only a part-timer. When you think about it, that makes good economic sense because Auburn doesn't have to pay the employee benefits and it keeps full-timers like coaches on the other side of the spit guard, just like in all of those old mafia movies and corporate weasel America.
Louisville wants to be Auburn when it grows up.
The law firm representing Auburn and athletic director Jay Jacobs (still free) has plans to expand its office to include a game room, a movie theater, a spa and a new employee parking lot to accommodate all of the Lamborghinis, Escalades and boats the partners will soon be purchasing.
Instead of the Mexican border, can we just put a wall around the Auburn campus?
And now, back to germ-free football:
Georgia Tech has rushed for 839 yards in its past two games. They had a bye to ice their feet. Miami has won four consecutive, including last week at Florida State. Mark Richt, the former Georgia coach, seems genuinely happy again. Good for him. But I suspect that's about to end.
Johnson beat Georgia twice in Athens when Richt was there (2008 and 2014). So killing Richt's good vibes comes natural to him. I'm also not convinced there's much difference between these two teams right now, and the combination of Tech being rested and Miami potentially having a letdown after last week is enough to push me over the edge.
So calling an upset. Take the gift 5½, but Jackets win this straight up. This week's parlay: NCAA over Auburn, Tech over Miami.
Missouri at Georgia: The Bulldogs are 6-0 and have won their first three SEC games by an average score of 39-6, so it follows that they're favored by 30, give or take a major organ. Mizzou has allowed 200 points in five games, but this still counts as a conference win. Dogs cover it all.
Auburn at LSU: Les Miles returns for a halftime ceremony honoring the 2007 national championship team. Ed Orgeron was a lot of more popular when he wasn't the head coach, either. Auburn covers 7.
Virginia at North Carolina: The Tar Heels are an underdog. At home. To Virginia. What could the NCAA possibly do to make them worse? Cavaliers cover 3½.
Vanderbilt at Mississippi: The Ole Miss human resources department officially listed an opening for "Head Football Coach" on its jobs site and it states, "Knowledge of and commitment to compliance with all NCAA, conference ... rules and regulations (is) essential." So clearly they're going in a different direction from Hugh Freeze. Rebels cover 3½.
Arkansas at Alabama: Nick Saban said the media is like "rat poison" for writing good things about his football team. Ah, hell. Might as well go back to mocking if he can't even muster a thank you. Most overrated team ever and its geranium of a coach cover 28.
Texas A&M at Florida: The Gators plan to wear "swamp green" uniforms with an "alligator-skin" jersey, as Nike continues to cause world-wide nausea and blind little children with all of the colors that were rejected by Crayola. Upset alert: Aggies win straight up (take the gift 2½).
South Carolina at Tennessee: Butch Jones said his team is coming off "one of the best bye weeks we've had here" and downplayed the importance of what quarterback takes reps with the first-team offense because the backup can get a "leadership rep." I look forward to the NFL draft when scouts break down leadership reps on film. Vols cover 3½.
Butch, the salesman
Florida State at Duke: One of these teams may not make it to a bowl. I'm not talking about Duke. But Seminoles cover 7.
National Revenue Streams League
(Buy any two games and win a free Mike Pence puppet, complete with strings and interchangeable Mr. Potato head faces for orchestrated indignant moments during anthems.)
Miami at Falcons: It has been a great week for the Dolphins. Their offensive line coach resigned after a selfie video of him snorting a yard line in his office was exposed by his stripper ("model") girlfriend, and their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, now ranks 30th in efficiency rating, 31st in yards per attempt and 32nd in personality. Almost makes Matt Ryan's five interceptions look trivial. Almost. Birds cover 12.
Giants at Broncos: New York fans are divided on whether players should stand or kneel for the national anthem. But they're united on them leaving before the game starts. Broncos cover 11½.
Lions at Saints: New Orleans coach Sean Payton called trading running back Adrian Peterson to Arizona a "win-win," conveniently forgetting that's he's the one who brought him in as a centerpiece of the offseason. So isn't this more a surrender? Saints win, but take Detroit and 5.
Sean Payton on his "win-win" trade
Packers at Vikings: Aaron Rodgers has 10 touchdowns and one interception in three wins since losing to the Falcons. I'm glad that game helped one team. Cheese covers 3.
Steelers at Chiefs: Kansas City is 5-0. Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions against Jacksonville and may be done. When something seems too obvious, it is. I picked up that wisdom from a guy standing next to me at the roulette wheel one night. Take the 4½, but Steelers win in a straight upset.
Last week: 8-5 straight up, 6-7 against the line
Through six weeks: 62-16 straight up, 43-34-1 against the line.
Sack Schultz 2017: Another solid week in contest picks (12-3) leaves me with a record of 64-24 and in 24th place. Last week's winners of weekly prizes were LeRoy Ward (Atlanta) and Kristi McDonald (Florence, Ala.), who both went 14-1. To enter, go to AJC.com/sackschultz2017.
Lilly's pick: Lilly (3-2) returns from her one-week suspension to pick the Tech-Miami game. Paul Johnson on the left, Mark Richt on the right, cheese all over both. Lilly goes ... right. Richt/Miami win.
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