Pastimes, the Gamecocks and bad comedians

Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs are 17-point favorites against the South Carolina Gamecocks. AP Photo/Butch Dill/File

Alas, baseball is no longer America’s National Pastime.

It’s a distant No. 3 behind …

No. 1: Seeking satisfaction through bragging rights tied to some sort of football guesswork (Fantasy, gambling, office pools, attempting to outsmart experts such as Warren Peper and his punctual Pigskin Picks sidekick, etc. …).

No. 2: Actual tackle football.

Ideally, you enjoy the reward of No. 2 without risking more than a handshake or a few clicks on your favorite news gathering organization’s website. The reasons to avoid cash wagering range from the subtle NFL difference between Good Quarterback Eli Manning and Bad Comedian Eli Manning (recently on display in Dallas) and the college example, South Carolina (1-1 overall, 0-1 in the SEC).

Steady for most of the last decade, the Gamecocks lost only 10 times as an underdog in Steve Spurrier’s first nine seasons as Gamecocks head coach.

They have lost to five underdogs in their last nine SEC games (Texas A&M, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee last year, plus Kentucky last week).

It isn’t just that South Carolina has slipped a bit; odds are adjusted for recent performance. That’s a concern for a team that will have to scramble to finish fourth in the SEC East.

The effort to climb out of the basement starts Between The Hedges on Saturday, where Georgia is a 17-point favorite.

It looks like Gamecocks quarterback Perry Orth can develop into a capable game-manager within a Fun ‘N Ball Control offense. Trouble is, the Bulldogs have a ball-control back in Nick Chubb.

Gene Sapakoff pick: Georgia, 30-17

Warren Peper pick: Georgia, 31-22

Georgia Southern is a somewhat authentic FBS team. But the Bulldogs are off to such a good start, the game should be close.

Sapakoff pick: Georgia Southern, 28-24

Peper pick: Georgia Southern, 34-24

Despite what you saw against South Carolina in Charlotte, the Tar Heels are headed for a 6-2 start — or better if they can win at Georgia Tech on Oct. 3.

Sapakoff pick: North Carolina, 31-14

Peper pick: North Carolina, 27-17

Clemson’s next two opponents face off in South Bend. Notre Dame has lost running Tarean Folston and quarterback Malik Zaire in back-to-back wins.

Sapakoff pick: Notre Dame, 28-27

Peper pick: Georgia Tech, 30-28

Northwestern handled one bunch of smart players (16-6 victory over Stanford in the opener) and takes aim at another in Durham.

Sapakoff pick: Duke, 28-27

Peper pick: Northwestern, 24-21

Something has to give when former Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly and an Ole Miss offense averaging 74.5 points per game collide with a Nick Saban defense.

Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 31-24

Peper pick: Alabama, 30-20

Auburn can’t be as bad as the team that almost lost to the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, but LSU has been waiting for this one for months.

Sapakoff pick: LSU, 27-24

Peper pick: LSU, 30-24

UConn at Missouri

In the other Columbia, Missouri is 2-0 but fans are restless, some of them picking on veteran QB Maty Mauk.

Sapakoff pick: Missouri, 34-14

Peper pick: Missouri, 37-14

The Falcons (2-0) are averaging 411 rushing yards per game but Sparty doesn’t lose to lesser foes at home under South Carolina grad Mark Dantonio.

Sapakoff pick: Michigan State, 38-10

Peper pick: Michigan State, 40-17

Running backs Ronald Jones II, Tre Madden and Justin Davis give the Trojans the edge.

Sapakoff pick: Southern Cal, 28-21

Peper pick: Southern Cal, 29-20

Last week: Gene Sapakoff 8-2, Warren Peper 7-3

Season: Gene Sapakoff 17-3, Warren Peper 15-5

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff