Sports Editor

So who’s finished with their Christmas shopping already?

As we flip the page to Advent Calendar Month, there’s two groups of people: those who started in September, did all the decorating over the long holiday weekend, and are all done with everything — the womenfolk in my family — and those who’ve been watching football and basketball and gearing up for the Orlando SeaWolves system — the menfolk.

Seriously, if you’ve shopped, wrapped and decorated, what’s left to do for the rest of December? Watch Hallmark Channel specials? Bake Christmas cookies? Eat the cookies?

There were no Black Friday deals that struck me as essential, so aside from two online orders placed, I’ve done next to nothing Christmas related, and probably won’t until desperation sets in around the 16th or so. Desperation is a good word for it considering I have 10 and 4-year-old kids. But they issued Santa Claus detailed and bullet-pointed lists, so the elves have a plan. I’d go ahead and execute them — but there’s a chance I might miss some really good football this weekend.

Face it, I’m a journalist, I need deadlines in my life — shoot, I starting writing this Thursday about 47 minutes before it was due.

I’m sure Santa understands.

So if I find the time to write him out a list, this would be it, the Mighty News-Gazette Divine Nine Things We’d Like For Christmas:

1. An ugly Christmas sweater for Nick Saban. 2. A college football playoff system nobody argues with. 3. A new conference for UCF. 4. New working legs for Alex Smith and McKenzie Milton. 5. More seven overtime games! (But only for games that start in daylight.) 6. Socks ‘n underwear. 7. Scheduling apps. (Never miss a deadline again!) 8. That winning lottery ticket (although Santa would be crazy to give that up, even to a good little boy or girl or reporter, he’s been in the industry a loooooooong time). 9. The classics never die: A Red Ryder BB gun. (Say it with me: You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!)

Just be careful in the malls and the parking lots. Now on to the Picks of the Weak, Conference Championship Game Edition:

Big 12: Texas vs. Oklahoma (-7.5): This is a cool gift for fans, but didn’t we do this already? You could call this part of a playoff; win and the Sooners are in. Boomer Sooner by 7.

Memphis at UCF (-3): Line opened at 7, so it’s understandable it dropped after the lump of coal fate dropped on Knights’ fans, who will throw Scrooge out of Spectrum Stadium if he shows up. Knights by those 3.

Georgia vs. Alabama (-13.5): Santa tried to come up with some chaos for the playoffs, but the elves could only conjure up a football. Tide by ten.

Northwestern vs. Ohio State (-14): Urban Meyer needs a ton of style points to find a playoff berth in his stocking. Buckeyes by 21.

Pitt vs. Clemson (-27.5): Clemson doesn’t to win pretty to get in. Which is good, because this won’t be pretty either. Tigers by 24.

The paid professionals:

Carolina (-3.5) at Tampa Bay: Bucs fans should hope for an early gift — an answer for Cam Newton. Panthers by 7.

Indianapolis (-4) at Jacksonville: Jags fans want a new quarterback for Christmas. While they’ve been good, they need one because the team’s been bad little boys this year. Colts by a Luck-y 6.

Buffalo at Miami (-4.5): Remember a time when this game was better than the leftover turkey it is today? Dolphins by 3, as in 6-3.

L.A. Chargers at Pittsburgh (-3.5): Best of the 1 p.m. kickoffs today. Means it’s probably a good time to hang the outdoor lights. Steelers by 3.

Washington at Philadelphia (-6.5): Eagles win and they, Redskins and Cowboys will be tied for the NFC East lead, resulting in the opposite of “Peace on Earth” for their fans. Green Birds by 4.

Petey “The Gators Are Going To Win” Covino says: Isn’t it time for FSU to retire the Dora the Explorer backpack for turnovers? Who gives luggage for Christmas?

Brian “Big Man” McBride’s Super Sniffer of the Week: Chargers by 3 over Steelers.