I opened this year’s picks at a torrid pace, going a blistering 10-1 through last week’s SEC forecasts, which might cause you to wonder whether I am a better prognosticator than I give myself credit for being. Don’t kid yourself; I’m not, which is why I will warn you once again that, whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It!
Here are this week’s picks for games involving Southeastern Conference competitors taking place outside of Sanford Stadium:
Fla. International Golden Panthers at Alabama Crimson Tide: If you’ve ever wondered where FIU football players and coaches eat when they’re on the road, I have the answer: IHOP. Like the International House of Pancakes, the Florida International Golden Panthers have that certain European cosmopolitan flair that accompanies worldwide jet-setters with exaggerated accents. A team as provincial as ’Bama may be a bit intimidated by these visiting sophisticates who do such suave and urbane things as refer to cookies as "biscuits," but I’m guessing the Tide will roll, nonetheless.
Troy Trojans at Florida Gators: Finally, we are going to see the matchup the whole country has been clamoring to see! The Gators and the Trojans have represented the country’s top two programs in the 21st century, so it is high time we finally get to witness a winner-take-all showdown between Urban Meyer’s Florida squad and Pete Carroll’s Southern California outfit . . . I’m sorry, what? The Troy Trojans, not the USC Trojans? Oh, for crying out loud . . . the Gators are going to stomp them.
Vanderbilt Commodores at LSU Tigers: Typically, naval flag officers have great success when sent to do battle in the Pelican State; just ask David Farragut. This should be Louisiana’s opportunity to return the favor, as the Bayou Bengals are going to maul the Commies.
Mississippi St. Bulldogs at Auburn Tigers: I’m guessing the over/under this year will be more than five. New head coaches with sterling credentials as SEC coordinators will square off to test the initial progress of their respective rebuilding projects. Dan Mullen may be the better coach, but Gene Chizik inherited the better program, so I like Auburn. Well, I don’t like Auburn, but I’m picking the Plainsmen to secure their second and final win of the season against a team nicknamed "Bulldogs."
UCLA Bruins at Tennessee Volunteers: Now we know the real reason Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin; he used to be at USC, so he was brought in to Knoxville for the purpose of beating the Bruins. You know, sort of like Mark Richt was brought in from Tallahassee because the Florida St. Seminoles knew how to beat the Gators. (Hey, if I hadn’t mentioned it, skigator93 or Year 2 would have!) This game has disaster written all over it for the Vols, who are coming off of a huge (albeit largely meaningless) win and looking ahead to the big one in the Swamp, so a UCLA team that gained great confidence from last year’s season-opening overtime victory over the Big Orange is apt to sneak into Neyland Stadium and creep out with a Bruins win. (Warning: I virtually never call SEC/Pac-10 matchups correctly.)
Forewarned is forearmed, so, as always, I would caution you that my skills as a forecaster rank somewhere between those of your local weatherman and those of Karl Marx. (How’s the worldwide workers’ revolution and the withering away of the state working out for you, Karl?) In other words, take my predictions for their (nominal) entertainment value, but please heed my advice: Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Games of Interest.