Having provided you with this week’s SEC picks, I now turn my attention to the national games of interest. Regrettably, I did not fare well in my Labor Day weekend national prognostications, in which I posted just a 4-2 record. This should serve as an adequate reminder that I am bad at predicting the outcomes of college football games. Consequently, I offer my weekly disclaimer: Don’t Bet On It!
All of the following games will be played on Saturday, September 11:
Colorado Buffaloes at California Golden Bears: All right, I’ll admit it; this one received serious consideration for recognition as the national game of disinterest. However, it is intriguing for three reasons. First of all, the Georgia Bulldogs play the Buffs on the day of the First Annual Dawg Sports Sacrificial Goat Roast. Secondly, the game pits future Pac-10 rivals. Finally, neither team appears to be where it was a few years ago, so there’s a chance it might be competitive. Yeah, all right, probably not. I’m going with Cal.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Kansas Jayhawks: Yeah, this one’s looking a little less compelling than it did a week ago, and a whole passel of Auburn fans are lining up to remind you that there may have been a legitimate reason why the Tigers didn’t hire Turner Gill on the strength of one good season with the Buffalo Bulls, after all. The Ramblin’ Wreck may have been a bit rusty, but at least the Golden Tornado took care of business against its patsy opponent, so this will be the game in which the Engineers finally exact their long-overdue revenge on the Jayhawks for launching Pepper Rodgers’ coaching career.
Iowa St. Cyclones at Iowa Hawkeyes: This rivalry ranks right up there with Colorado-Colorado State as an annual reminder that, where in-state grudge matches are concerned, the race is not always to the fleet, nor the battle to the strong, nor is that even the way to bet most of the time. You may not have noticed, but ISU actually took care of business last weekend, and arguably to a greater degree than the Hawkeyes did. I’m still going with Iowa, although it won’t surprise me if I regret this pick later. By the way, this forecast is offered for the sole purpose of providing a subliminal reminder that it’s O.K. to get your in-state rivalry game out of the way early in the season. I’m just saying.
Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish: In theory, Rich Rodriguez and Brian Kelly traded up when they landed their respective current gigs, although you’d be hard pressed to convince me that either of these teams was a Big East championship contender, in spite of their week one performances. The luster is off of this rivalry like the wings of Tate Forcier’s helmet, yet I am compelled to call this game because Beano Cook and Lou Holtz assure me that it ranks right up there with Army-Navy on the list of consequential college football rivalries for fans who are skewing the average age of the AARP upward. Since the Maize and Blue (unlike their in-state rivals) tend to struggle in South Bend, I’m going to go with the Irish to improve to 2-0.
Florida St. Seminoles at Oklahoma Sooners: This sure is a lot of hype for a couple of teams that combined to go 15-11 last season. I always wondered why the Sooners were getting all the love, and I can’t help noticing that Oklahoma gave up 341 passing yards to Utah State. Forget about all this business about it being Stoops brother against Stoops brother; this is a battle between Christian Ponder and the Sooners’ secondary coach. At the risk of being flagged by AuditDawg for unnecessary meanness shown to the best quarterbacks coach in college football, I’m siding with the Jimbo Fisher-coached signal caller to get the better of the Willie Martinez-coached defensive backs as the Seminoles roll and Bulldog Nation finally gets back at Oklahoma for sending us Gary Gibbs.
Miami Hurricanes at Ohio St. Buckeyes: The generals are always fighting the last war and the pundits are always predicting the last football season, so forgive ESPN for its faith that the Ohio State University turned a corner with last year’s Rose Bowl. However, we would do well to remember that it hasn’t all been roses for the Buckeyes in big non-conference games lately. If I believed the ‘Canes were as "back" as the Worldwide Leader suggests, I would pick Miami to exact payback for the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, but there are only so many myths I can permit myself to buy about fallen former powers playing in the Sunshine State in one week, and Florida State already has used up all the goodwill I am willing to show the ACC this Saturday. The Hurricanes will make it close, but the Buckeyes will get both the win and more credit for the win than they deserve.
As last weekend’s record attests, I am even worse at forecasting non-SEC games than I am at predicting the outcomes of contests involving teams with which I am familiar. There is, therefore, only one way to approach my weekly prognostications, and that is to follow one simple rule: Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Game of Disinterest.