Tusk to Tail: The Hogs will beat Bama … but just not this year

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the fifth season of Tusk to Tail – the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. Members of the Tusk to Tail Team are Sean Casey, Jack Clark, Dale Cullins, Greg Houser, Craig May, David Rice and Mark Wagner. Tusk to Tail is managed by Talk Business & Politics against the advice of attorneys and family. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail
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The Tusk to Tail crew typically allows their hearts to overrule that stuff between their ears. They’ll pick the Hogs against anyone and everyone. Except those boys all coached up by Nick Saban. Not even the sweet tea vodka and Fireball whisky can cut through that reality.

THE QUESTION
Who do you think will win the World Series?

Sean Casey
Starting with the AL, the Rangers have the pitching and the offense to overpower the Blue Jays. The BoSox have the experience and an incredible offense, so Boston wins the Cleveland series in 4 games. The power arms and power bats of the Rangers are too much for the Red Sox pitching rotation.  Rangers advance to the World Series.

The Chicago Cubs are the most complete team in MLB, with good bats and good pitching. They have two guys in the pitching rotation with a sub-3.0 ERA. Chicago overpowers the Giants to advance to the NLCS. The Dodgers and the Nationals, on the other hand, are both limping into the post-season with several key injuries. The Dodgers make it by the Nationals only to lose to the Cubs. The Cubs beat the Rangers in 5 games to win the World Series.

Willard Grandview
One ALDS matches Texas and Toronto, raising the possibility of Rougned Odor again knocking Jose Bautista into next week (my favorite sports moment maybe ever). I’ll take the Rangers there. I also like Red Sox over Indians, Nats over Dodgers, and Cubs over Giants.   In the ALCS, Boston over Texas. NLCS: Chicago over Washington.

That leaves us with Red Sox vs. Cubs in the World Series. I would love to see Big Papi go out with another ring, but the Cubs are loaded with young talent, Theo Epstein is in their front office, and Phish played two gigs at The Friendly Confines this summer. That’s too much mojo to ignore. Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!

t2tlogo2016-17Todd Rudisill
Anyone but the Cubs, please. If they don’t win it this year with the talent they have they never will.

THE GAMES
• #1 Alabama @ #16 Arkansas
Mark Wagner
I’m a homer. I always think the Hogs will win, even when I don’t. If ever there was a good chance to win our first game in 10 years against these guys, this should be the year. They should be looking ahead, we have a great QB, and we are playing at home. But our O-line has been struggling. And while my prayers are with the Ragnow family, if Frank doesn’t play, Mr. Allen is going to be hurting. In addition, our “D” hasn’t particularly shined against QB’s who can run.

So here we have the number one team in the country, averaging 44 points a game, coming to our house. My heart says the Hogs win a low scoring game 20-17. But my wallet would take Bama and give up the points, 35-17. I hope my heart wins.

David Rice
The Arkansas Razorbacks feel they are ready to contend, chanting “Why not us?” as their rally cry. The answer, at least in part, is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Everything that Texas A&M did to beat us, Bama can do better. We will beat these guys one day, but I don’t see it happening this year.

Greg Houser
As much as I like to call myself a homer, I don’t think our Piggies will be victorious. I’m not sure Coach Anderson has the talent or has figured out the right lineup for our O-line. Defensive Coordinator Robb Smith has a big task ahead of him as well. Can the D sustain four quarters of play against Bama? Our track record says we play Bama close. Bama wins by a touchdown, but I hope AA proves me wrong!

Benji Cleavland
It would be a season changer if the Hogs were to win this game. Unfortunately, it seems like the streak will continue. Although we have the QB and specialty talent on offense to make the game interesting, our offensive line has yet to gel. Also, our defense has been a mild disappointment. Coach B’s teams improve during the course of the season, but right now they just don’t seem “Bama ready.”

Todd Rudisill
Everyone is talking about what an insane atmosphere it will be, with it being a night game. It was in 2010 when we blew a 13 point lead with Mallett. It was in 2014 when we couldn’t hit an extra point or a field goal, and also fumbled at the one and lost by one.  Yes it will be loud, as we try to rattle their stud freshman QB into mistakes. This will be his first true night game in a hostile environment.

Turnovers are the key. If you don’t win the turnover battle against Alabama, you lose, every time. We have to have a clean game with no turnovers. We have to find a way to run the ball and to have successful play action. And for damn sure, you have to be able to pick up 1 damn yard on 3rd and 1 or 3rd and goal from the one. Same story, different year. Tide 31-24. Please let me be wrong on this pick.

• #20 Oklahoma @ Texas
Mark Wagner
This game has two teams with two losses apiece. The rest of the season doesn’t hold much promise for whichever team loses. If Texas loses, there are rumors that coach Charlie Strong will be gone, especially as Texas AD Mike Perrin seems to be distancing himself from the previous AD’s football coach. Nothing is as desperate as a coach fighting to keep his job mid-season. So while no one outside of the Big 12 really cares, the Red River showdown will probably determine if one coach keeps his job, and if the other team has any hope of living up to their hype.

These two teams really don’t like each other, and as last year proved, the records mean nothing. However for Saturday, I think there will be a Coldwell-Banker sign in Charlie Strong’s front yard, and Coach B eventually gets another head coach as an assistant.  OU 35, Texas 14.

Todd Rudisill
This is one of those “flip a coin” games. Neither team has looked great. AP writers swooned when Texas beat Notre Dame to start the season and threw them in the poll at #11. That didn’t last long. The biggest question now with Texas is whether Strong will be an early casualty like Les Miles. After he loses this game, don’t be surprised if the trigger is pulled. OU wins 37-31.

• LSU @ #18 Florida
Willard Grandview
The firing of Les Miles was sad, but overdue. He simply wasn’t changing with the times, and college football was leaving his damn strong football team behind. Enter Ed Orgeron, who no doubt has ripped – or soon will rip – off his shirt during a team meeting in a misguided attempt at machismo. In time, his act will wear thin (hopefully by the time LSU rolls into Fayetteville in November). But for now, the Tigers are inspired. The momentum from their 42-point outburst against Mizzou helps them roll past the Gators and their own undeniably goofy head coach.

Benji Cleavland
This is the toughest game of the week to pick. These are two wildly athletic teams with similar strengths and weaknesses. Orgeron is the X-factor. Who knows what will come out of his mouth or how well he will continue to coach. The safe pick is Florida at home.  The “what the hell, let’s have some fun” pick is LSU. I will go with LSU.

• #23 Florida State @ #10 Miami
Greg Houser
Growing up in Florida, I couldn’t wait for this match-up. The battles were epic back in the day. Coach Richt is getting Miami to play with confidence and the kids seem to be on a tremendous high, while FSU is losing confidence. FSU’s QB could have a tremendous game but I think the Canes come out with an emotional win. I’ll take the U!

Todd Rudisill
My, how far Florida State has fallen since that great comeback win against the Ole Miss Black Bears. Miami is off to a 4-0 start, and first year head coach Mark Richt’s first big game is one of the most historic rivalries in college football. The Canes do just enough to hand the Noles their 3rd loss of the season, 28-24.

• #9 Tennessee @ #8 Texas A&M
Sean Casey
We’re now in October and it is clear that Tennessee was overrated going into the season, but they have momentum and they are improving. It is also apparent that most experts (but not TTT’s David Rice) underrated Texas A&M, who is also improving. The first half of this game will be close. The Aggie defense, led by their outstanding defensive ends, will pressure the Vols and eventually run away with the game.   aTm beats Tenner 45-21.

Benji Cleavland
Tennessee took care of Florida, but they are on the road, playing an SEC West team who looked great against Arkansas.  Aggies win this week and then get a week off to prepare for the Tide in a battle that will likely decide the West.

• #5 Washington @ Oregon
David Rice
Instead of investing in goofy “Webfoots” uniforms for this weekend, Nike should be eyeing the slush fund to hire Oregon a new coaching staff. Give me the Huskies, 30-27.

Todd Rudisill
The Ducks are drowning this year, and those uniforms are even uglier when you are a losing team. Chris Peterson has the Huskies program heading up. Washington 37-17.

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