SEC Pigskin Picks 10-29: “Halloween Hi-jinks” UT-Kentucky, UGA-Florida

Coach Billy Jack reveals he is a master at winning Halloween contests. You will not believe who he dressed up as once! Chely, meanwhile, tackles childhood obesity as only she can by pledging to give away healthy treats. Featured games, Tennessee-Kentucky and Georgia-Florida.

Mom & Dad’s Italian, Valdosta

mom and dad's italian valdosta beaverdamusa.comWe love local places. I’ve always been amused by people who eat at Red Lobster while they’re at the beach.

A few days ago, we stopped in Valdosta, Ga., and were referred to Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant. Mom and Dad’s is a little place in a nondescript building with a simple, retro feel. Black and white photographs of the owners’ family hang on the wall. The owner’s son, who runs the Valdosta location, even stopped by our table to tell us the story of his family’s restaurant history. It was a nice touch. Our server had the perfect combination of knowledge and pleasantness. She spoke with us quite a while and it was enjoyable. (And I’m usually not one for too much gratuitous server interaction.)

Here are some highlights from the menu:

The soup and salad course was a treat. The house salad was crisp and fresh, with a tangy vinaigrette dressing. The minestrone was rich and delicious. Although no one at our table had it, the spinach salad comes served with warm bacon dressing. I’m pretty sure “warm bacon dressing” may be the three happiest words in the English language.

I can speak to the chicken parmigiana. It was fried crispy, and served with a delicious marinara sauce. Naturally, it was topped with mozzarella cheese. It was truly delicious, and it was huge.

The tortellini came with a red meat sauce, and I understand it was delicious as well. Again, the portion was generous.

The wine list featured several local wines, and plenty were reasonably priced. The dessert menu was nice as well.

In all, it was a tasty, fun experience – elegant enough but not stuffy. The dress code is “come as you are,” which is a bit disappointing. There’s nothing wrong with changing out of the T-shirt to eat food this good.

Mom and Dad’s Italian restaurant is off of Interstate 75, Exit 22, in Valdosta. The address is 4143 North Valdosta Road.

You can visit their web site and see a menu here. They’re on Facebook, but the account is not too active. Hopefully they’re too busy cooking.

Georgia vs. LSU: not that big of a deal

Hogwash! Blasphemy! Treason, even! I can hear the Dawgs barking and the Tigers growling.

What do you mean, it’s not that big of a deal? Here you’ve got two top 10 teams with Championship implications on the line. What do you mean?

Let’s examine what’s on the line for Georgia. The Clemson loss knocked the Dawgs out of the NC hunt in week 1. Since that’s not happening, the goal is the SEC Championship. Okay Dawg fans, you’re already mad at me for my NC observation, so let’s just go on and say LSU invades Athens and takes care of business. That gives Georiga their only conference loss. The next three games are at Tennessee, home against Missouri and at Vanderbilt. Georgians have a better chance of getting a share of the Tennessee River than the Dawgs have at losing to either the Vols or Dores. And, Missouri at home will be a double-digit margin.

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Georgia’s only remaining test is at home against Florida. And even that will be an open-book test. Did you watch the Florida-Tennessee game? Florida is not through losing. I will go out on a limb right here and predict Georgia beats Florida worse than it beats Vandy. The match-ups are clearly in Georgia’s favor against the Gators. Then they finish up with Auburn and Kentucky. W and W. And boom, the ticket is punched to the SECCG, even with a loss to LSU. Maybe that guy who cried on the radio call-in show after the Clemson game can take some consolation in this.

The Tigers, on the other hand, come in with a perfect record, meaning they’re still in the hunt to play for the big crystal football. Well, maybe. Even an undefeated SEC team (besides current No. 1 Alabama) would still need two and maybe 3 of the current teams ranked ahead of them to stumble. Have you looked at the remaining schedules for Oregon, Ohio State, Clemson and Stanford? Probably not happening.

So, let’s say the Mad Hatter goes to Athens and runs out of tricks. There’s no reason to throw yourselves to the alligators, Tiger fans. Neither Texas A&M nor Alabama have great defenses, and Mettenberger is engineering more than 43 points a game. You’re going to get either ‘Bama or A&M, maybe both. Here’s the deal: you were the odd-man-out in the west before the season began. Beating Alabama and A&M is what gets you to Atlanta in December. It doesn’t really matter if the ride home from Athens is a long one, if you don’t TCB in the West, you’re out anyway.

But you won’t catch me saying that to an LSU fan late Saturday night.

Until next time, give me 20, slackers.
Coach Billy Jack Hoover
@coachbillyj

What we Learned in Week 1

What we learned from Week 1 in the 2013 college football season.

  1. Georgia lost their biggest playmaker for the season in Malcolm Mitchell when he reinjured his knee air bumping with Todd Gurley after a Bulldog touchdown. That’s incredible bad luck for Mark Richt’s team who put themselves precariously behind the 8-ball already after losing to Clemson. At least for a while, we don’t have to worry about the Bulldogs doing much celebrating on defense after giving up 38 to Clemson. Which leads us to…
  2. Steve Spurrier surely cannot wait for Saturday to invade Athens to turn up the heat on Mark Richt’s seat. Odds makers are calling this one a virtual toss-up. And for sure it’s the marquee game of the week if not the year. Listen to SEC Pigskin Picks this week to get our prediction for the winner. Of course, it’ll be a slam dunk. Which leads us to…
  3. Basketball is right around the corner, which is a good thing if you’re a Kentucky fan. Last year the Cats could only muster 2 wins. Their 2013 campaign opener proved they probably won’t outpace that this year with a loss to Wild Man Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky team. Which leads us to…
  4. Give Butch Jones’ Tennessee Vols an A for effort in their shutout of outmanned Austin Peay. But the playmakers in Knoxville are few. True, games are won up front, and the Vols have that covered on both sides, but big names at the skilled positions are yet to emerge. You won’t hear it publically, but anything less than a 3-touchdown win over WKU Saturday will be a sad statement on the 2013 Vols. Which leads us to…
  5. Johnny Football. ‘Nuff said, right? He has drawn the ire of every college football talking head on TV as well as fans across the nation. And he’s even alienated some of his own faithful after a horribly childish and ill-conceived performance on Saturday. Besides his “show me the money” and “air autographing” gestures after Aggie TDs, he snubbed Kevin Sumlin after  the coach benched him for unsportsmanlike conduct. Sumlin later called the penalty “foolish.” We say Sumlin is foolish if he doesn’t take care of the Manziel Problem immediately. On Saturday, we’ll either see two fools or zero.

The SEC East in 2 minutes…

  1. Georgia will not be denied another shot at ‘Bama in the SEC Championship game, and they know they have to pretty much run the table to get the opportunity. And that’s exactly what they will do. With Aaron Murray pulling the trigger and sophomore Todd Gurley steamrolling the ball downhill, look for Uga to be smiling until December.
  2. A Steve Spurrier team always has more answers than questions. They’re ranked #6 pre-season, but I’m concerned about Connor Shaw behind center. He’s talented, but Steve can push a QB a bit hard sometimes. And coming from me, that’s a statement! On the other side of the ball, though, Jadeveon Clowney & Co., are going to cause misery every Saturday. Not much is going to get past the Gamecock defense.
  3. The Florida Gators took everybody by surprise last year posting a 7-1 conference record. This year, though they will begin the season with QB Jeff Driskel as their most accomplished rusher. That’s a scary thought – especially without a proven backup. Tailback Matt Jones continues to recover from a viral infection, and Mike Gillislee is gone. The other backs are unproven. On defense, the early NFL departure of 3 Gator starters didn’t help things either.
  4. Question: Who’s the most popular coach never to win a game? Answer: New Tennessee coach Butch Jones. The folks on Rocky Top are ecstatic about having someone to make them forget the Kiffin-Dooley one-two punch. The talent simply isn’t there for the Vols yet, but look for them to win the ones they should, plus one they shouldn’t.
  5. The biggest question to Vanderbilt’s season right now is how their horrific off-season problems will affect their performance on the field. Just this past week, receiver Chris Boyd was charged as an accessory after the fact in the alleged rape of an unconscious female Vandy student. It will be interesting to see how James Franklin handles the situation, especially as long as police say the investigation is continuing. And let’s make sure and remember the alleged victim here, as her life was changed forever.
  6. Missouri isn’t ready to compete yet.
  7. Kentucky made a great hire in Mark Stoops, but the talent isn’t there. But it’s coming. Guaranteed.
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