Tusk to Tail: We’ve got a Tiger by the tail, unless COVID has us by the defense


Who do you think will win the Heisman trophy this year?

Willard Grandview: Gotta feel bad for Trevor Lawrence. Most Heisman Trophy favorites who fall out of the running do so because of a single poor performance in a fluke loss on the road in a place like Ames, Iowa, on a cold late-November night, not because they contracted a highly contagious, potentially deadly virus in the middle of a pandemic. But with Lawrence out, I think this is a two-man race between Notre Dame’s Ian Book and Florida’s Kyle Trask. Book may lead the Irish back to the playoffs this season and that will keep him in the mix, but Trask’s ridiculous numbers (148-of-211, 2,171 yards, 28 TDs, 3INTs) combined with marquee wins over Georgia and (potentially) Alabama mean the Heisman will return to the SEC for a second consecutive year.

LSU @ Arkansas
Todd Rudisill: Kyle Trask put his stamp on the Heisman last week against the Hogs. So impressive. But the Hogs were impressive by hanging in. They kept putting points on the board. Any of the past few Hog teams would have checked out in the first quarter in what would have been a 63-7 game. It’s hard to believe LSU was a 40-plus point favorite last year and they are only 1.5-2 point favorites as of our deadline. The Hogs’ offensive line has got to show up because the Tigers’ shaky defense, believe it or not, still leads the SEC in tackles for loss. LSU is without its starter Myles Brennan for the rest of the year. TJ Finley is a decent backup but look for Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom to cause havoc and make it a long day for him. I hope to see Treylon Smith get the bulk of the carries. He just has another level than Boyd, and makes magic happen. Pittman is back. Hogs at home. Arkansas 37-30. If COVID has hit the defense like there are reports, then all bets are off.

Willard Grandview: In a season that’s given us one big surprise after another has there been a bigger one than LSU being trash? One year after a national championship the Tigers are 2-3 with losses to Mississippi State, Missouri, and Auburn. But maybe we should have seen it coming in early September when Ed Orgeron told the press, “I think, not all of our players, but most of our players have caught (coronavirus).” In hindsight, that was a bad omen. But whatever. Gimme The Boot. Hogs 34 Tigers 24

Dale Cullins: On Monday I would have picked the Hogs by 14. Now with word that the Hogs defense has been bitten by the virus, I’ll stick with Vegas. Hogs by 3. It feels like LSU may have given up on this season, and the Hogs still have a lot to play for. Hogs 31, LSU 28

Tennessee @ Auburn
Dale Cullins: Tenner is on the ropes and Coach Pruitt may be on life support. Auburn is playing better now. Auburn by 17, going away. AU 40, Tenner 20

#14 Oklahoma State @ #18 Oklahoma
Todd Rudisill: It’s Bedlam, so anything can happen. OU enters with two losses and OSU has one loss. Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler has not shown consistency. OSU has only given up 200 yards in the air once this year, against West Virginia. Look for the Cowboys defense to be a problem for Rattler, and be the difference in a 4th quarter stop in this rivalry showdown. Pokes 33-30.

Dale Cullins: Gundy is snakebit when it comes to playing his old rival. OU is playing well enough, and they have more talent than State. However, this might be the year he can get it done. OSU in a barn burner. OSU 49, OU 44

UCLA @ #11 Oregon
Willard Grandview: I was under the impression the PAC-12 was not playing football this season. Are we sure they are? If so, it’s a big game for Chip Kelly going into Autzen Stadium where he had his greatest success as a coach. But he has no chance. Ducks 65 Bruins 48

#10 Wisconsin @ #19 Northwestern
Dale Cullins: Wisconsin seems to be playing well from what I’ve seen. Northwestern will hang for a quarter. Wisky 37, NW 21

#9 Indiana @ #3 Ohio State
Todd Rudisill: Indiana has been fun to watch. And they made the Michigan brass start getting their Harbaugh exit plan together earlier than expected. Most thought it would be after their annual upcoming Ohio State loss. Cinderella’s fairytale ends this week as it goes to “The Shoe.” Too much talent on OSU for Indiana to make this interesting. Buckeyes roll 44-24.

Willard Grandview: This Indiana football team – led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr. – is good. And any way you measure it, Penix is big. He’s thrown for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns, while also being the team’s emotional leader. In the pre-season he predicted wins over Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State. Two down, one to go. Is he cocky? Sure. But that’s Penix. If he can keep balls in the air and avoid sacks on Saturday, I like their chances. Hoosiers 24 Buckeyes 23

Editor’s note: Now in its ninth year, Tusk to Tail is 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. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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