This is Georgia Week. Finally The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is here, and never has it been more appropriate. Because every fan on both sides of the game Saturday is in desperate need of a cocktail. Also because it is wise to be outside, since watching either one of these teams play lately has doubled as an emergency measure for poisoning: induce vomiting. They don’t keep records on this sort of thing but I am pretty sure this is the first time in the fabled history of this series where no fan on either side believes his team has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the game. Or even avoiding embarrassment. All because of a little piece of connective tissue. Many little pieces, really on both sides. The number of injuries impacting this game has been downright stupid, so that will be the theme of this week’s Picks & Pans. Due to the importance of the Cocktail Party, there will only be two other picks this week, but at least the stupidity concept is one with which one half of this rivalry is uniquely familiar.
Alabama State at Kentucky (7:30, CSNC)
Things are really getting bad at Kentucky. Looked at as a coming out party for new coach Mark Stoops, they’d prefer to slam the closet door shut on the 2013 season, as only a Week 2 win over Miami of Ohio has kept the Wildcats from throwing up a goose egg on the scoreboard through seven games. The 67,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium is expected to have at least 40,000 empty seats in it, which will make the football venue the second-largest congregation of Kentucky fans this weekend. The biggest convergence in Lexington Saturday will again be at the university library. There is always a huge bottleneck there in the reference section. Kentucky fans are all big do-it-yourselfers, and the massive loitering crowds form as they spend each afternoon in the self-help section, unable to make a selection because they don’t know if they are “Dummies” or “Idiots”.
Football for Dummies: Some
An Idiot’s Guide to Who The Hell is Alabama State: Oh who cares?
Auburn at Arkansas (6:00, ESPN2)
This is a special week for Auburn fans. In addition to being able to boast a surprising 7-1 record, it is Halloween week. This is always call for celebration on The Plains because Auburn fans love to brag that in the event the living dead begin to walk the Earth, Auburn fans will be the only group on Earth who will survive the zombie apocalypse. After the zombie horde eradicated the rest of the planet of human life in their insatiable quest to dine on their brains, Auburn fans would simply starve them out.
Zombie Trees: 31
Brain-dead in the Ozarks: 17
Florida vs. Georgia, Jacksonville (2:30, CBS)
There are no data on this, but I am comfortable in believing that this magnitude, severity and sheer volume of injuries have never impacted a single team in a single season in the history of this or any other college sport. Or probably pro sport. The Romans didn’t lose this many Christians to the lions. Frank Nitti had a shorter hit list. They had a higher survival rate on the Titanic. Setting expectations for the rest of the year would be like Monty Python’s Black Knight, with all four limbs cut off shouting, “’Tis but a scratch, 2013 – HAVE AT YOU!!”
And the Georgia fans have been experiencing the same kind of season-crippling injury landslide, only much like every other category in the world, they are trailing the Gators in this as well. Nevertheless, both teams are trying their hardest to rally their troops behind some sort of war cry the last two weeks leading up to this game. When they find the best one – the best battle cry – they will both be posting it in banner form on their tunnel in the Gator Bowl (yeah, I said Gator Bowl) to serve as motivation throughout the day. The crack staff at Gator Country has received an advance copy of each team’s list of prospective rally cries, behind which they hope to charge the hill and plant their flag in Jacksonville. Here are the entries on those lists of battle cries
“Over? Did you say our season is over? NOTHING is over until WE decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough…Aaron Murray will likely throw an interception! And we have just been handed a note from the administration informing us that we did in fact decide it is over. As a group. Not everyone received ballots, my bad on that. Who’s with me? Let’s go!!”
“To the last, I grapple with thee! From Hell’s pancreas, I gently prod at thee with a small, blunt object that if lodged under the skin may or may not develop a mild infection over the course of the next week or so.”
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m NOT gonna take it anymore than a few plays, maybe the first half; possibly the whole game but definitely not the rest of the season, but if it is the rest of the season then for most of the next decade we’ll really be trying to make it stop with the being mad; mad as hell; because, you know, that’s what we are currently, if you had to put a name on it!”
“To our faint hopes of winning the game: you be strong, you survive… You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you! Eventually. Though perhaps not right away. After I’ve completed this 3,000-piece puzzle of Stamps of The World. It’s quite lovely, really. And I’ll need a nap first.”
“None of you ever knew Ray Goff. He was long before your time, but you all know what a tradition he is at Georgia. And the last thing he said to me, ‘Helen,’ he said, ‘sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Goffer. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Miss Hunt,’ he said, ‘but I’ll be wearing a name tag and in all likelihood a fry hopper will be involved.’”
“Are you crying? Are you crying just because half of our team has been decimated by injury? Destroyed our season? Made fans dread the approach of each weekend? There’s no crying! There’s no crying in college football!…Ray Goff was my college coach, and he called me a talking pile of grass! And he tried to eat me, because he loved to eat grass. He’d do it right there on national TV like he thought he was in his back yard in Moultrie. He’s an idiot. And that was when my parents drove all the way up from Gainesville to see me play the game! And did I cry? NO! NO! And do you know why? Because there’s no crying in college football! Now get out there and do what I do – make your veins jut four inches above your skin, make your hair vibrate, make your ears bleed, make every small child in that stadium scream at the sight of you! But NO CRYING!”
“Should we win the day, the Second of November will no longer be known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night, unless we are asked to!” We will not vanish without a fight, excepting that the fight requires us to play the game of football terribly well and such! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day from Having To Prepare For This Damn Game Anymore This Year!
“Some day, dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies on the Georgia sidelines that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take…OUR JEAN SHORTS!”
And for we fans, I offer a battle cry for the faithful and not-so-faithful who have already proclaimed that they won’t even bother tuning in to the game, or will be ready to turn the TV off and abandon their Gators the moment anything turns south:
“Thirty years from now, when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks you, “What did you do in the great Cocktail Party 2013?,” you won’t have to say, “Well… I shoveled nuclear waste in Jacksonville.”