Ted Lewis: The foibles of predicting 53-man rosters and other curiosities

Musings for a Monday:

1. 53 pickup

Obviously projecting an NFL team’s 53-man roster is about as challenging as trying to fill out an NCAA tournament bracket.

Nobody gets it entirely right.

Raise your hand if you had the Saints cutting both of their kickers.

Unless the team plans to give Thomas Morstead double duty (he did make 78 straight PATs at SMU and hit 70 percent of his field-goal attempts) or just go for it every time, there should be someone in place by Monday, Tuesday at the latest.

It could be Ryan Succop, released by Kansas City on Saturday in favor of rookie Cairo Santos from Tulane.

Or one of several other veterans let go Saturday.

It appears that kickers have become so uniformly good that saving on the salary cap, which may have been the case with Succop and Santos, becomes the deciding factor.

There’s always the chance that either Shayne Graham or Derek Dimke, who battled for the Saints’ job throughout the offseason only to both be found wanting, could be called back, but that seems doubtful.

There was no word from the team Sunday.

Unceremoniously cutting Champ Bailey was regrettable in that a future Hall of Famer should be able to go out on his own terms.

Not all do, though.

Similarly, trimming Robert Meacham in favor of apparently underachieving Nick Toon was a head-scratcher, but we aren’t getting paid to make those decisions.

Heck, nobody even asks us for fantasy advice.

2. LSU: Ho-hum, another comeback

In the midst of the Tigers’ come-from-behind victory against Wisconsin on Saturday, ESPN’s Sean McDonough mentioned that 21 times before under Les Miles, LSU had done so in the fourth quarter.

Make that 22.

That’s 22 late rallies in Miles’ 96 victories, 23 percent’s of a team that’s won 80 percent of its games in his tenure, which is one game into its 10th season. That’s a success rate that seemingly would have made nail-biters rare.

Small wonder some Tigers fans will always believe that Miles is more lucky than good. Wisconsin losing its best two defensive linemen and shanking a pair of late punts will only add to that.

But what you saw Saturday were young players, like quarterback Anthony Jennings, maturing as the game went along. Now they get games against Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe to further that maturation progress, while we’ll try to figure out why Tiger Stadium needed expanding beyond 102,000.

Another fact from Saturday: Nine LSU players from 2013 were early draft entrants. All nine made NFL rosters.

The names change. The outcomes don’t. Somebody’s doing something right.

3. The West is best

Texas A&M, generally picked for fifth place in the Southeastern Conference West, went to South Carolina and embarrassed the ninth-ranked Gamecocks 52-28.

Overall, the division went 5-0 against outside foes by a combined 197-88, with four of the five victories coming away from home. In an intradivision game, Arkansas, picked for last, played Auburn to 21-21 at halftime before the Tigers pulled away, perhaps in part because the Razorbacks assistants working from the press box were stuck in a malfunctioning elevator.

Regardless, that kind of early strength portends that the division is so strong that running the table in the West is the most-daunting task in college football this season.

Any team that does should be in the four-team playoff, regardless of what happens in the SEC championship game.

But that’s just one of the potential challenges for the playoff committee.

Which leads us to…

4. The early Final Four

We all love to be pundits in the days before the season begins. And one of the most frequent musings has been about how the selection committee will be looking at strength of schedule, especially these early nonconference games, such as LSU-Wisconsin, when they make their final deliberations in December.

But the truth is, as was the case with the two-team BCS title chase, particularly in its final years, it’s going to come down to the results of the last weekend.

The conference championship games, while they perhaps should count for no more than the conference tournament finals in basketball, are going to be the most-lasting impressions the group deals with.

That could hurt the Big 12, which doesn’t have a title game, especially if a team isn’t playing on championship weekend. League favorites Oklahoma and Baylor are, but not each other.

And it makes it just a guessing game at this point.

But based on the “Wow” factor from the opening weekend, here goes: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Southern California in the Sugar Bowl; No. 2. Michigan State vs. No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl.

Discuss.

5. Yulman grand opening

Tulane’s double-overtime loss at Tulsa shouldn’t do much to lower the enthusiasm for the debut of Yulman Stadium on Saturday when the Green Wave hosts Georgia Tech.

Credit a curiosity of the new combined with nostalgia for the old with creating a sellout situation that even has the school’s notoriously apathetic student body standing in line for tickets.

By all accounts, the stadium is aesthetically pleasing. How functional it is will play out as parking, concessions and the like face the test of having people in the seats.

It’s sort of like battle plans. They tend to disappear once the shooting starts.

For sure, Yulman isn’t the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. That’s something those in attendance, or at least not in the suites, could find out. The early forecast is for a 50 percent chance of rain Saturday.

Are umbrellas allowed?