By now, you have seen, and likely scoffed at, my Labor Day weekend SEC college football predictions. If so, please prepare to laugh uproariously at my picks for the national games of interest, with respect to which my innate provincialism renders me even more ignorant and, hence, less likely to stumble blindly into an accurate forecast. In other words, whatever you do, . . . Don’t Bet On It!
The following games will be played on Saturday, September 3, unless otherwise indicated:
TCU Horned Frogs at Baylor Bears (Fri., Sept. 2): They have a saying in Fort Worth: "Payback is a woman not unlike Ann Richards." Richards, of course, was the Lone Star State governor and Baylor alumna whose political meddling in the formation of the Big 12 got her Baptist alma mater included in place of the sectarian school the Bears will host on Friday night. With Texas Christian bound for the Big East and a shot at an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game, this season represents the final chance for this Southwest Conference refugee to deliver a poke in the eye to the league that snubbed it. The Frogs will make the most of that opportunity.
SMU Mustangs at Texas A&M Aggies (Sun., Sept. 4): Well, now, this is an interesting development, don’t you think? These former Southwest Conference mates, who did their level best to out-cheat one another to secure Eric Dickerson’s services 30 years or so ago, will be squaring off at the crossroads for both teams. The Aggies appear very much to be on their way out the door, and the Ponies would like nothing more than to take Texas A&M’s place at the Big 12 table. Though Southern Methodist likely views this as a dress rehearsal for major conference membership, the Mustangs’ hosts are unlikely to slip up in what probably is the first game of the Aggies’ final season in their present league.
Fresno St. Bulldogs at California Golden Bears: This game wouldn’t make for much of a blood feud between rival rap music labels, because they’re both West Coast, but rarely will you see a gridiron battle between a David who has done so much (at least in non-conference play) with so little and a would-be Goliath who has done so little with so much (at least in terms of resources). I’ve never been a big believer in Jeff Tedford, whose declining reputation for offensive wizardry hit rock bottom last season, and, while Pat Hill has always had a penchant for stubbing his toe in conference contests, his teams routinely are at their best in road games against the big boys. I like the Bulldogs to bludgeon the Bears.
Northwestern Wildcats at Boston College Eagles: This game matters because it will set the tone early for the division race in the 12 Pack North. Wait, whoa, that was make-believe, wasn’t it? Sorry; for a minute there, I lost track of which league realignments we invented, and which ones were really happening. Las Vegas has listed the Eagles as three-point favorites at Chestnut Hill, which is pretty close to calling it a toss-up. I’m going with Northwestern to pull out the victory in a close contest.
UCLA Bruins at Houston Cougars: This game represents one of the more intriguing and underrated outings of college football’s opening weekend. On the one hand, the Cougars nearly cracked the BlogPoll top 30, while the Bruins decidedly did not. On the other hand, UCLA has a history of strolling into the Lone Star State and upending hometown favorites. This is just the kind of game in which the Bruins have a penchant for shocking the world, but, given the state of the program in Westwood under Rick Neuheisel and the state of the program in the Bayou City under Case Keenum, I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger on picking the upset. I may regret this call, but I can’t see where Houston should have any problem bringing ruin to the Bruins.
South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Fighting Irish: A Skip Holtz-coached team will be taking the field in South Bend against the Golden Domers. This game will be worth watching, if only to see which flagrant conflict of interest will gain the upper hand in Lou Holtz’s head when he absurdly is asked to offer impartial analysis of the matchup. (Five bucks says Dr. Lou ends up picking the South Carolina Gamecocks to win.) I think Notre Dame is highly overrated---this season, I mean; obviously, the Irish are highly overrated in general---but the squad from South Bend isn’t so highly overrated that the Irish will lose to the Bulls in what ought to count, but does not count, as a Big East conference clash.
Those are my predictions, for whatever they are worth, and, at this juncture, I should stress once again that they are worth very, very little, because my skills as a prognosticator are abysmal. Consequently, you would do well to heed my regular disclaimer, the gist of which boils down to this: Don’t Bet On It! (Nevertheless, even though I freely admit to being wrong a lot, you should feel free to point out in the comments precisely where and how I am wrong.)
Coming Soon: The National Game of Disinterest.