A pitiful 4-3 mark in last week’s SEC predictions dropped me to 52-13 for the season in conference forecasts, while a middling 3-2 ledger in last week’s national games of interest doomed me to limp into the final weekend of the regular season sporting a 36-22 record in non-SEC prognostications. Accordingly, it almost goes without saying that, when it comes to my ability to pick the winners of college football games, you should heed my weekly advice: Don’t Bet On It!
All of this week’s games are slated to take place on Saturday, December 4, unless otherwise noted:
MAC Championship Game: Miami (Ohio) RedHawks v. Northern Illinois Huskies (Friday, Dec. 3): This matchup of mascots is better suited to a Jack London short story than a college football game, which I suppose is appropriate, since the fact that this affray is taking place in Detroit in December suggests that tailgaters would be well advised to review the particulars of "To Build a Fire" before grilling bratwursts in the Ford Field parking lot. NIU is riding a nine-game winning streak, and the Huskies have topped 30 points in eight of those outings. Since the RedHawks rank 50th nationally in scoring defense, I’m going with Northern Illinois. Well, that, and the fact that I’m still ticked off over the fact that the ‘Dawgs lost to Miami (Ohio) in the ‘74 Tangerine Bowl.
Conference USA Championship Game: Central Florida Knights v. SMU Mustangs: Given the very high likelihood that the Georgia Bulldogs are Liberty Bowl-bound, I’m actually more interested in this one than in any other game being played outside of the Atlanta city limits. Here’s a fun fact for you: Orlando has hosted two previous Conference USA title tilts, and, in both of those games, the winning team scored exactly 44 points. Home field advantage has mattered little in this league championship clash, but, because the East Division champion has won three straight conference crowns, I’m predicting that the Knights will pad George O’Leary’s resume with a win.
ACC Championship Game: Florida St. Seminoles v. Virginia Tech Hokies: All right, all right, all right, Florida State is back, already! Which way will the game go when the ACC
Atlantic Coastal division champion Seminoles face the ACC Coastal Atlantic other division champion Hokies in Jacksonville Charlotte some city along the Eastern seaboard lying somewhere between Miami and Boston? Dude, that’s easy: FSU will win, because VPI’s Michael Vick is suffering from the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Wait, what’s that? Vick no longer plays for the Hokies? Oh, well, that makes it even easier, then; I’m definitely going with Florida State.
Eight Twelve Championship Game: Nebraska Cornhuskers v. Oklahoma Sooners: The over-under on references to the 1971 Game of the Century during the broadcast is 47. Take the over, and also take the ’Huskers to stick a final finger in the eye of the Big Twelve Ten on their way out the door to the Big Ten Twelve.
SEC Championship Game: Auburn Tigers v. South Carolina Gamecocks: From the outset, I wish to be clear that (a) I am picking this game based upon the expected result on Saturday, not the expected vacating of that result after Cam Newton later is declared ineligible, and (b) I will be rooting for the Palmetto State Poultry. However, this rematch in the Georgia Dome reminds me a lot of the 2003 SEC Championship Game, which pitted the Red and Black against the LSU Tigers. Earlier in the year, Georgia had lost a single-score game to the Bayou Bengals in Baton Rouge, which offered some hope that the ‘Dawgs might stand a chance against Louisiana State at a neutral site. Instead, the national championship-bound Tigers defeated Georgia handily, for the simple reason that Nick Saban’s squad had improved dramatically over the course of the campaign. While Steve Spurrier’s 2010 South Carolina squad arguably finished the season stronger than Mark Richt’s 2003 Bulldogs did, I fear the same scenario will be played out on Saturday, as a Gamecock club that played the Plainsmen tough in Jordan-Hare Stadium earlier in the autumn will find that Auburn has gotten much better since then.
Those are the picks for this week’s slate of games, and I am apt to be wrong more often than I am right, so I will end this set of projections the way I always do, by reminding you, whatever you do, . . . Don’t Bet On It!
The national game of disinterest is a seven-way tie between the four Pac-10 games and the three Big East games being played this weekend. I’m sorry, but you don’t have a championship game, so the rest of us don’t really care. If you didn’t know we were right, you wouldn’t be adding teams, now, would you?