Yesterday, I took you around the SEC, but the national games of interest still warrant our attention. My middling 3-3 record in last week’s national forecasts stranded me at 7-5 for the season, which underscores how seriously you should take my weekly disclaimer: Don’t Bet On It!
Each of the following games will be played this Saturday unless otherwise indicated:
California Golden Bears at Nevada Wolf Pack (Friday, Sept. 17): There will be a man and a dog too this time, as the big old Bears travel to clash with the Wolf Pack on sacred soil. Major de Spain, General Compson, Uncle Ash, and Walter Ewell all tried to convince young Ike McCaslin that the Wolf Pack would prevail after an epic struggle embodying the futility of all human striving and serving as apotheosis and synecdoche of the endless struggle of man against nature, both the nature that presses in upon him from without and the nature which he wrestles to resist in vain that comes from within, but, even at just sixteen years old, Ike shrewdly sensed that ancient wisdom known by McCaslin Edmonds, Sam Fathers, and (intuitively, unconsciously, almost in spite of himself) Boon Hogganbeck. Ike knew that, ultimately, inexorably, no matter how wounded or winded or vulnerable the inscrutable animals appeared to human eyes doomed to see only what could be sensed, felt, using the body without realizing, apprehending, that eternal spirit lurking underneath, the Bears would prevail before lumbering back into the all-encompassing woods from which they emerged, and to which, without fail, they must return. (Author’s Note: The Faulkner imagery works better if you picture the trees as ringing an endangered yet unspoiled wilderness untrod by human feet. Try not to envision the trees filled with dirty teenage hippies suffering from protest envy.)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at North Carolina Tar Heels: Finally! It’s time for the marquee ACC showdown for which we’ve all been waiting! Paul Johnson’s unstoppable offense squares off with Butch Davis’s immovable defense in a battle for conference (and perhaps also division, although I’m not going to bother looking it up to make sure) supremacy! Wait, what’s that you say? The Engineers punted twice, turned the ball over on downs three times, and lost a fumble in the second half last weekend, while UNC has had three basketball teams’ worth of football players suspended since before the season started? Well, then I guess this is going to be another borderline-unwatchable sissified slap party pitting two teams from a league that is awaiting trial at the Hague for the crimes against college football the conference committed last weekend. Fortunately for the Ramblin’ Wreck, they’re not in Kansas any more, so I expect the Golden Tornado to blow through Chapel Hill en route to a win.
Maryland Terrapins at West Virginia Mountaineers: This is one of those rivalry games that the citizens of 48 states forget is a rivalry. It will still be worth watching, though, if only so the viewer can enjoy the look of consternation on Ralph Friedgen’s face as he glares across the field at Bill Stewart and asks himself, "How the heck am I the one who’s on the hot seat?" Believe it or not, both of these teams are 2-0, even though the Terps’ triumph over Navy and the Mountain Men’s victory over Marshall both came in games they had no business winning, so this contest could carry as much significance as a clash between an ACC team and a Big East team could possibly have. I like West Virginia to get it done at home.
BYU Cougars at Florida St. Seminoles: I debated whether to classify this contest as a national game of interest, seeing as how these two teams lost last Saturday by a combined margin of 82-31, but it’ll be interesting to see how both squads respond to being rode hard and put up wet. Truthfully, I think you’d probably get a better game if you put actual Seminoles on the field to fight actual cougars, but I’m reasonably certain that there are laws prohibiting that sort of thing, even in the Sunshine State, so I’m going with the ’Noles to get the better of the Cougs.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan St. Spartans: On Saturday, the Golden Domers once more will demonstrate their unswerving devotion to maintaining their sacred athletic independence by playing their third straight game this season against a Big Ten opponent. While it will be Notre Dame’s first road outing of the 2010 campaign, the Irish have had better recent success against the Spartans in East Lansing than they have in South Bend, so I’m picking the visitors to get the better of their hosts.
Air Force Falcons at Oklahoma Sooners: Saturday is "Military Appreciation Day" in Norman, so Bob Stoops is asking the natives to sing the national anthem correctly. Apparently, Oklahomans have taken to singing the last line of the song as "the home of the Sooners," which is just strange. It disrupts the rhyme scheme, it introduces an extraneous extra syllable into what already is a difficult number to sing, and it’s just odd. If you’re an Atlanta National League baseball fan, you can pluralize the final word of the national anthem and pay homage to the home team without being too disruptive, but, if you’re swapping out words, you’re putting forth too much effort to make a spectacle of yourself. Sing the song the right way, Oklahoma fans; we’ll know it’s the home of the Sooners when you win.
Iowa Hawkeyes at Arizona Wildcats: This game would be considered a possible Rose Bowl preview, if it weren’t for the facts that everyone knows the Ohio St. Buckeyes are winning the Big Ten and Arizona has never been to Pasadena for the postseason. If you’re really looking to read something into this game, you could hang your hat on the fact that Mike Stoops, who currently serves as head coach of the Wildcats, previously played and coached for the Hawkeyes, but that’s a bit of a stretch, and we’re all suffering from Stoops brothers burnout after last weekend’s Florida State-Oklahoma game. Maybe we should just content ourselves with these two facts: (a) this is an interesting inter-sectional matchup between ranked teams, and (b) Iowa is going to win.
Those are the likely outcomes of this weekend’s significant national games, at least as I see it, but, then again, I’m not very good at making these sorts of predictions, so I wouldn’t put much stock in my forecasts if I were you. In fact, I would go so far as to issue a warning against placing faith in my prognostications, and, to sum it up succinctly, I would tell you this: Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Game of Disinterest.