There was precious little to be glad about in Bulldog Nation yesterday, so I will attempt to extract something positive from this weekend's college football action, however meager it might be: I went 5-0 in this week's S.E.C. picks.
The last time someone so completely lucked into the right answer, Clark Griswold and his family won a vacation to Europe. (Photograph from Amazon.com.)
That improved my season-long ledger in conference predictions to 43-8, necessitating that I re-emphasize my regular reminder that I am almost as bad a football prognosticator as Willie Martinez is a defensive coordinator. Accordingly, no matter what short-lived success I may periodically enjoy, you must never forget that, whatever you do, when it comes to my forecasts . . . Don't Bet On It!
These are this week's Southeastern Conference contests, each of which is scheduled to be played next Saturday, October 21:
Tulane at Auburn---Back when this was a conference battle, the series between the Green Wave and the Plainsmen was more competitive than you might think; from 1933 to 1952---the first 20 years of S.E.C. play---Tulane was 10-6-3 over Auburn. Times have changed since then, as the school from New Orleans is now in its second decade as a member of Conference U.S.A. and the squad from the Plains has lost just four times in its last 34 outings. That's a recipe for a War Eagle win if ever there was one.
Of course, given the fact that Auburn backed out of its contract with Florida State and Tulane backed out of its contract with Georgia, I wouldn't put it past either of these two punks to cancel this Saturday's game, as well. (Photograph of Tommy Tuberville from C.S.T.V. and photograph of Chris Scelfo from Tulane University.)
Fresno State at Louisiana State---Before the season started, I identified this as a key non-conference game. Oops! The West Coast Bulldogs have been in a skid since laying it all on the line against U.S.C. in the Coliseum last November. Pat Hill's squad has gone 1-9 in its last 10 outings and Fresno State hasn't won a road game in 351 days. This one is going to get ugly as the Bayou Bengals win handily at home.
Ole Miss at Arkansas---These are two teams on completely different trajectories. The Rebels are 2-5 coming off of an overtime loss and Ed Orgeron's team easily could be 0-7 right now. The Hogs are 5-1 and followed up a pair of dramatic victories with a couple of convincing wins that put Houston Nutt's squad in control of its own destiny in the S.E.C. West. The Razorbacks are hitting their stride and the Rebs are in disarray. Add to that the fact that the game is being played in Fayetteville . . . or Little Rock . . . or whatever forsaken place is Arkansas's home stadium this week . . . and you have all the ingredients for the Hogs to win.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt---Can you believe this game has bowl implications? How depressing. I wouldn't put it past a Bobby Johnson-coached Commodore club to post back-to-back conference wins, were it not for the fact that the Gamecocks had a bye week to prepare for Vandy. At this point in his career, I'm not at all convinced that Steve Spurrier isn't the worse of the two head coaches involved in this contest, but the Palmetto State Poultry desperately need to claim the season's fifth victory before South Carolina begins a brutal stretch run that includes games against Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, and Tennessee. The 'Cocks will dispatch the Commodores in the Music City, but not without a fight.
The namesakes of Revolutionary War general Thomas Sumter will get the better of the namesakes of Gilded Age tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt in a contest whose historical imagery only the home team's fans are apt to be sufficiently smart and well-educated to understand. (Photograph of Thomas Sumter from South Carolina Department of Archives and History and photograph of Cornelius Vanderbilt from Search.com.)
Alabama at Tennessee---It's the third Saturday in October; has the Tide begun to turn? 'Bama owned the Vols for a generation, posting a 19-4-1 record against the Big Orange from 1971 to 1994, but Tennessee has enjoyed a 9-2 run over the Red Elephants in the ensuing 11 seasons. The Volunteers appear to have all of the advantages in this grudge match, playing with confidence on their home field after an open date in a revenge game against a rival team that struggled with Duke, Hawaii, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. I like Tennessee to win big over Alabama.
Those are the Southeastern Conference contests on the slate for the upcoming weekend. I'll be getting to the prominent national games shortly, but, in the meantime, you should be careful to remember that, when it comes to my predictions, you must make absolutely certain to do one thing . . . Don't Bet On It!