Woohoo, the Iron Bowl is here; the Iron Bowl is here.
And the rest of the country, in unison and on key, had a collective yawn. Alabama-Auburn in 2012 = boring.
Has there ever been a less hyped Iron Bowl pitting these bitter cross-state rivals? It's bad enough that the wiseguys have Alabama favored by 31 points. It's even worse when the subplots are more interesting than the game.
In case you've been without your smartphone, tablet, computer or newspaper, here's a synopsis of those extracurricular stories:
Is Auburn under NCAA investigation? If so, how will that impact coach Gene Chizik's future with the Tigers. Hint — it won't help. There's too much smoke about the NCAA for there not to be some sort of a fire smoldering somewhere. And it's hard to imagine Chizik surviving if the NCAA shoe is about to drop.
What about Chizik, even if the NCAA isn't investigating the Tigers? What about athletics director Jay Jacobs? Can either or both survive a three-win football season? Do they deserve to survive after the program has been in a free-fall since winning the national championship two seasons ago? There are some who think it's Jacobs that should go. There are some who think they both should go. And, there's a contingent who think Chizik should get a chance to turn things in a positive direction.
Lost in the shuffle are Alabama's national title chances. The Crimson Tide can't afford any slip-ups this week or next week against Georgia in order to play for another national championship. It's unlikely Nick Saban's team will falter today — 31-point favorites rarely lose. The question is how long Saban will play his front-line players once the game gets out of hand. Alabama fans would love a 42-0 or 49-7 beatdown, but do you really want to see AJ McCarron in the game in the fourth quarter with it out of hand?
I picked Alabama 45-7 earlier this week and I'll stand by that today. I just don't see any way Auburn can win this Iron Bowl.
It would be nice to see a close, competitive game today but I think by halftime a lot of people will be on their way to the mall to shop or doing yard work.
On to the rest of the picks:
Notre Dame (minus 7) at Southern Cal: This was supposed to be a tune-up game for the Trojans on their way to the BCS Championship Game. Instead, it's the Fighting Irish who have everything to gain with a win today. USC is hurting and has underachieved in a big way. QB Matt Barkley won't play, which is a lot of why Notre Dame is a 7-point favorite. Before the season, people in this part of the world scoffed at Notre Dame and its lack of college football relevance. They can't laugh now. Notre Dame 21, USC 10.
Mississippi State (plus 1) at Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze has done a good job restoring some pride to a downtrodden Rebels team. Mississippi State is on the mend after a three-game losing streak. Ole Miss needs this to get to a bowl game. Take the Rebels at home. Ole Miss 28, Mississippi State 21.
Florida (no line) at Florida State: Another game with BCS implications. If the Gators win and Notre Dame loses, Will Muschamp's team could find itself in the national championship game against the Alabama/Georgia winner. Florida QB Jeff Driskel was still questionable Wednesday on whether he would play. Florida plays great defense, but it doesn't have enough offense to beat the Seminoles on the road even if Driskel plays. Florida State 24, Florida 17.
South Carolina (plus 5) at Clemson: Gamecocks will have a tough time hanging with Clemson's potent offense. Clemson 31, South Carolina 28.
Michigan (plus 3.5) at Ohio State: Hard to believe this Buckeyes team is unbeaten and will stay that way today against that team from up north. Ohio State 21, Michigan 14.
Contact Gregg Dewalt at 256-740-5748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.