4 months ago

Predictions for the remainder of the college football season, picks for this week’s games

The 2020 college football season has already nudged past the halfway point. But the numerous COVID-related postponements and cancellations give this Saturday the feel of a mid-season intermission.

That means it is a good time to offer up a few predictions for the rest of the year.

Prediction #1: Mac Jones will win the Heisman Trophy.

The Crimson Tide signal-caller is currently edging out Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in ESPN’s Heisman Watch. Jones is putting up historic numbers and has the playmakers at his disposal to finish the season the way he started — on a tear. After the legendary program not having a Heisman winner until 2009, Alabama could be looking at its third recipient in the last 11 years.

Prediction #2: Gus Malzahn will earn his 70th win as Auburn head coach.

If Malzahn’s Tigers win three out of their last four during the regular season, plus a bowl victory, then that will leave him with 70 total wins, 40 of those in SEC play. Hitting that mark will also solidify Malzahn’s place as the greatest coach to ever walk the sidelines at Jordan-Hare.

Prediction #3: Clemson will fail to make the college football playoff for the first time in its existence.

We have written before about the gap between Clemson and Alabama this season. Those weaknesses in Clemson’s roster also showed up against Notre Dame last weekend. If Dabo Swinney does not give the NFL a shot during the offseason, look for his Tigers to be back in contention in 2021.

Prediction #4: The SEC will have two teams in the playoff.

Winning out and losing to Alabama in the SEC championship will likely earn Florida a place in the college football playoff. Notre Dame looks best-positioned from the ACC to reach the playoff, and Ohio State seems to not have a peer in the Big Ten. If Notre Dame were to slip up before its championship game, the clamoring for a Group of 5 team, such as Cincinnati or BYU, will become loud among the national sports media.

Let’s get to some picks for this week.

The basics

Arkansas at No. 6 Florida (-17.5): Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman is out this week after testing positive for COVID-19. Would the Razorbacks’ athletic department eliminate his position if they pulled the upset without him? Fortunately for him, Pittman will not face such cost-cutting measures.

The pick: Florida 42, Arkansas 28

TCU at West Virginia (-3): We are charter members of the Neal Brown fan club dating back to his time as the head man at Troy. For years, defense and tackling were optional in Morgantown under Dana Holgerson and his Air Raid-focused teams. Brown has changed the culture, and the Mountaineers are now ranked fourth in the nation in total defense.

The pick: West Virginia 24, TCU 16

Buyer beware

No. 2 Notre Dame (-11.5) at Boston College: Euphoria spilled out across Ireland last weekend after Notre Dame beat a historically overrated Clemson team fielding no playmakers, very little defensive talent and a bad offensive line. That exuberance is the reason why Boston College has become a trendy upset pick this week. While Notre Dame would be the fifth-best team in the SEC, it will be good enough to handle the Eagles.

The pick: Notre Dame 39, Boston College 21

Colorado at Stanford (-7.5):  Does anyone really know what is happening out in the Pac-12? Even with all the modern advancements in communication platforms, tracking the Pac-12 is like trying to follow Korean baseball or a golf tournament in Dubai. We are led to believe they are playing this year, and we have heard Colorado got a big emotional victory last week against UCLA, a school which previously fired Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell. Word is that Stanford has been holding bootleg practices in a neighboring county due to local government lockdown rules.

The pick: Stanford 26, Colorado 7

UTEP at Texas-San Antonio (-6.5): UTEP has had some trouble getting on the field this year with canceled games against North Texas and Florida International. Nevertheless, its school president is a Yellowhammer favorite, former secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson. Her team is a stingy bunch, currently sitting 19th in the country in total defense.

The pick: UTEP 20, Texas-San Antonio 17

No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech (-1.5): Virginia Tech might be the most inconsistent Power 5 team in the country. At least Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State have been consistently bad this year. Meanwhile, Miami still has quite a bit to play for with an outside shot to reach the ACC championship game.

The pick: Virginia Tech 38, Miami 31

Hometown heroes

South Alabama at No. 25 Louisiana (-15.5): Alabama, Auburn, Troy and UAB have all fallen victim to postponed or canceled games this weekend. So the weight of the state of Alabama falls on USA. Since its season-opening upset of Iowa State, Billy Napier’s squad has lived dangerously, winning by 10 points or fewer in its five other victories. Look for USA to represent its state honorably.

The pick: Louisiana 27, South Alabama 23

Last week: 3-2 straight up; 2-3 ATS
Season: 24-8 straight up; 18-14 ATS

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 hours ago

Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator taking applications for 2021 class

Startups from around the world are encouraged to apply for the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator 2021 class.

In its second year, the innovative program, located in Birmingham, seeks early-stage startups focused on emerging energy technologies. Areas of interest include smart cities, electric grid resiliency and sustainability, industrial electrification, connectivity and electric transportation.

The class will run for 13 weeks and include 10 companies. Through their participation in Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator, startups will receive seed investment, business coaching and mentorship through Techstars’ worldwide network of business leaders.

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At the end of the 90 days, the program will culminate in Demo Day, a public pitch event on Dec. 9.

“We had a fantastic first year, made successful through the hard work and creativity of our inaugural class, even during a pandemic,” said Nate Schmidt, Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator’s managing director. “If you have an energy tech startup, you simply don’t want to miss out on the amazing opportunities and relationships this accelerator will provide your business.”

Techstars Alabama is supported by Alabama Power, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, the Alabama Department of CommerceAltecPowerSouth and the University of Alabama. They play a key role in the accelerator process, with the common goal of growing the number of startup companies based in Alabama and making the area a hub of innovation activity.

The application deadline is May 12. For more information, visit the Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator program page at Techstars.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

VIDEO: Gov. Ivey extends mask mandate, lottery could be an option as gambling bill languishes, Merrill backs off ‘no excuse’ absentee balloting and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Did Governor Kay Ivey make the right decision when she extended the mask mandate?

— Is the Alabama Legislature going to look to move forward with the lottery if they can’t get a more comprehensive gambling bill?

— Why did Secretary of State John Merrill support and then retract his support for “no excuse” absentee voting?

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Jackson and Musick are joined by Matt Murphy of Talk 99.5 in Birmingham to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” at Alabama Democratic Party Chairman and State Representative Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) for not following through on his plan to make the party more relevant in Alabama.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

6 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Stopping H.R. 1, amnesty keys to winning in 2022 midterms — ‘Then we will be able to neuter Joe Biden’

FLORENCE — With the third month of the 117th Congress now underway, House Democrats have pushed forward in their efforts to pass H.R. 1, which would impose so-called reforms to the country’s voting system.

Also among the priorities for Democrats, who control the White House, House and Senate, are immigration measures that could include amnesty for illegal aliens.

During an appearance at the Shoals Republican Club on Saturday, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) panned those efforts and said he hoped to stymie the progress of House Democrats on those two fronts.

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Brooks told those in attendance that if Republicans could prove successful in those efforts, it would set the GOP up for wins in the 2022 midterm elections and hamstring President Joe Biden’s push to promote a left-of-center agenda.

“We’ve got to stop H.R. 1, and we’ve got to stop the amnesty and citizenship that Joe Biden has promised,” he said. “If we do those two things, then we’re going to take back the House in 2022. I hope we will take back the Senate in 2022. And then we will be able to neuter Joe Biden over the next two years if we control the House and Senate and set the stage as well for us taking back the White House in 2024 with whoever our nominee may be.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

8 hours ago

2021 Birmingham Heart Walk goes virtual

COVID-19 has forced many nonprofits to shift gears in their fundraising efforts and the American Heart Association (AHA) is no exception. The AHA’s 2021 Birmingham Heart Walk has been reimagined as a digital experience this year to maintain necessary safety protocols due to the ongoing pandemic.

Through the event design, AHA is striving to get more people moving in Birmingham while continuing to raise life-saving funds and keep participants safe in the process. The Birmingham Heart Walk is Saturday, June 12, from 9-11 a.m. and participants can walk from anywhere.

Leading up to the event, participants are encouraged to track their activity through the “Move More Challenge” using the free Heart Walk activity tracker app that can be downloaded from Apple or Google Play. Once registered, users have 30 days to log minutes, and any activity counts. Top movers and fundraisers will be recognized on Heart Walk day.

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“The American Heart Association holds a special place in my heart,” said Southern Company Vice President of Technology David Coxwho will chair the walk for the second time. “They have done so much for my family and for my daughter, Emily, who was born with multiple congenital heart defects. I’m pleased to partner with this outstanding organization in their efforts help our community connect and stay active as we adapt to this virtual world.”

More than 600,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, and the risks have only been compacted by the pandemic. Among COVID-19 hospitalizations, 40% are heart or stroke patients, so this year, donations from the Heart Walk will help fast-track COVID-19 research and train front-line workers in addition to the many other research projects and resources funded by the AHA.

Fundraising and activities for the Heart Walk are beginning to ramp up as the warmer months approach.

“Now is the time to sign up, lace up and start fundraising for the 2021 Birmingham Heart Walk,” said Hannah Carroll, Heart Challenge director of the Birmingham AHA. “Signing up now ensures you won’t miss any of the fun this year, like Rally Days and our new activity tracker.”

On Feb. 18, Cox hosted a virtual kickoff for business leaders in the Birmingham area who will be fielding teams at this year’s Heart Walk. He encouraged counterparts to begin their fundraising efforts by saying, “We’re here for a reason – to fight for a world of longer, healthier lives.”

To view Emily’s story, click here. To learn more about the 2021 Birmingham Heart Walk or to create a team, click here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 hours ago

Schoolyard Roots growing stronger, smarter kids in Alabama

When kids participate in the life of a garden, they see the complete cycle of growing food, cooking and preparing it to eat. School gardens are exciting places for kids to learn basic academic subjects, too.

The Tuscaloosa community came together more than 10 years ago to develop a garden-based learning program called the Druid City Garden project, now called Schoolyard Roots.

Schoolyard Roots employs a full-time teaching staff that provides garden lessons for students, as well as professional development training for teachers. The school gardens provide an outdoor experience rare to many students. They are more likely to make healthy choices and try new foods. Students gain a sense of responsibility, to collaborate and work together as a team.

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“When we see a child’s health and education improve, we know that we’re not only investing in that child’s life today – we’re helping them build a better future,” said Nicole Gelb Dugat, interim executive director. “Schoolyard Roots builds community through food. By increasing access to fresh, locally grown produce, we empower our community to make healthy and sustainable food choices.”

In March 2020, the impact of COVID-19 significantly affected the teaching community. Almost immediately, the Schoolyard Roots team began distributing produce from its gardens directly to local families. By the end of last year, the program had distributed more than 750 pounds of fresh garden vegetables to the community.

“We stewarded our gardens as fresh-air sanctuaries, where children and adults could relax, refocus and reconnect,” said Dugat. “Through it all, we shared vegetables and flowers. We cultivated moments of peace and learned together. We could not have done any of it without our incredible community of supporters.”

They found hope and inspiration in the small miracle of seeds planted by the students. Gardens bring joy, peace and courage in times of struggle. And gardens remind us to have hope for new growth and what is to come.

Schoolyard Roots partners with Tuscaloosa-area elementary schools to bring learning to life through teaching gardens. The nonprofit works in 11 elementary schools across Tuscaloosa County.

Its mission is to build healthy communities through food with the Gardens 2 Schools program.

Gardens support and encourage healthful eating as a key component of children’s physical wellbeing, which can aid their academic and social success, too. The garden is woven through many aspects of a school’s curriculum and adapted for different grade levels.

“The Gardens 2 Schools program cultivates curiosity,” Dugat said. “The program teaches the students how to work together (and) learn self-reliability and compassion.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)