Ere we get down to the business at hand, I would like to direct your attention to a recent diary from Nico, who has some tickets to unload to see Ben Harper and Damian Marley at Chastain Park on Friday night. Anyone who's interested in purchasing them should contact Nico directly.
(Image from Football Fanatics.)
I now turn to the task before me . . . namely, incorrectly predicting the outcomes of college football games. Since I have already botched my prognostications for this week's S.E.C. contests, my focus now shifts to the national games of interest.
I made an absolute hash of last week's national forecasts, going 5-3 and blowing the call on all three major games (Boston College-Clemson, Notre Dame-Penn State, and Ohio State-Texas). This drops my record for the season to 12-3 in non-S.E.C. games and 29-4 overall.
Kristin Davis struggles to conceal her disappointment over last week's Dawg Sports predictions.
Therefore, it is time to start redeeming myself. Each of these games is scheduled to be played on Saturday, September 16, unless otherwise noted, and, just in case my dismal record last weekend was not enough to scare you off, permit me to remind you: Don't Bet On It!
Iowa State at Iowa---If it's an in-state rivalry game played in September, you know I'm going to pick it, just to prove a point to the schedulemakers who insist upon putting Georgia Tech last on Georgia's annual slate rather than getting the Yellow Jackets out of the way early to make way for a more meaningful rival. Unfortunately, this particular battle for local bragging rights pits the Cyclones, who needed overtime to beat Toledo and a controversial call to get by U.N.L.V. in a pair of home games, against the Hawkeyes, who crushed Division I-AA Montana and needed overtime to get by lowly Syracuse. When the resistible force that is Iowa meets the movable object that is I.S.U., something will have to give slightly less than something else. That something will be the Hawkeyes.
Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce is pleased by my pick in the Iowa-Iowa State game. (Photograph from The Sydney Morning Herald.)
Texas Tech at Texas Christian---The Red Raiders and the Horned Frogs haven't shared a conference affiliation in more than a decade, but the squad from Lubbock generally got the better of the team from Fort Worth during the years of their Southwest Conference rivalry. After T.C.U. took eight of the first 13 series meetings following Texas Tech's admission to the S.W.C. in 1960, the Raiders posted a 16-4-3 ledger against the Frogs from 1973 until the league disbanded following the 1995 campaign. Since that time, Texas Christian has gone 19-10 against other Lone Star State squads, but the wins have all come against Baylor (1-0), Houston (4-0), North Texas (3-0), Rice (1-4), S.M.U. (7-3), and U.T.E.P. (3-1). I will be rooting for the Horned Frogs, but, much to my chagrin, I have to pick Texas Tech to win.
Maryland at West Virginia (Thursday, September 14)---Most folks around the country probably don't think of this as a rivalry game, but the Terrapins and the Mountaineers have met on the gridiron every year since 1980. It appears that Ralph Friedgen is waning in College Park while Rich Rodriguez is waxing in Morgantown and, although I anticipate an exciting display of offensive fireworks, I believe W.V.U. has too many weapons for the Terps to handle, so I'm picking the Mountaineers to clear the hurdle rather than fear the turtle.
Could someone please post a picture of Steve Slaton on-line that isn't from the dadgum Sugar Bowl? (Photograph from E.S.P.N.)
Oklahoma at Oregon---Absolutely nothing about this game bodes well for the Sooners. The Ducks have revenge on their minds after last year's Holiday Bowl loss to Oklahoma took the luster off of a 10-1 regular season. The game is being played at Autzen Stadium, where the home team has lost just twice in its last 10 outings in its on-campus arena. The O.U. from Norman has struggled against U.A.B. and Washington, whereas the O.U. from Eugene has looked impressive against Stanford and Fresno State. This will be the first road game of 2006 for Bob Stoops's troops, three of whose four losses last season came in venues other than Memorial Stadium. On paper, this is a big-time matchup, but, on the field, I expect it to be a blowout as Oregon rolls to a big win over Oklahoma.
Miami at Louisville---The Big East title could be on the line in this clash of . . . oops, wait a minute, sorry. For years, the Cardinals have been following in the Hurricanes' footsteps, from hiring Howard Schnellenberger to joining the conference from which Miami had just bolted, but U. of L.'s modern football history has been something of a roller coaster ride, as the last 27 seasons have seen 13 losing records yet seven years of nine wins or better. After eight straight bowl trips, the Cards are ready to take the next step against the team that survived a 41-38 scare in the Orange Bowl during Louisville's 11-1 campaign of 2004. In a revenge game in their house, the Cardinals come out on top in a high-scoring affair in the Bluegrass State.
Wow, that feels like it was a hundred years ago, doesn't it? (Photograph from The Sports Network.)
Nebraska at Southern California---The dominant team of the 1990s travels to the City of Angels to tangle with the dominant team of the early 21st century in a made-for-T.V. marquee matchup. I have a hard time seeing this as a clash of the titans, however; while the Cornhuskers certainly have improved, the Big Red Machine remains a shadow of its former self and Nebraska will be going on the road to take on a team that has won 46 of its last 48 games and is coming off of an open date. Moreover, U.S.C. hasn't lost in the Coliseum since September 29, 2001, and N.U. has gone 7-13 in road games since Thanksgiving of that same year. Yikes! I'm taking the Trojans to shuck the 'Huskers in a big way.
Clemson at Florida State---As reported by Florida fans and Florida State fans alike, the Seminoles will be wearing all-black uniforms for an upcoming game; perhaps F.S.U. drew its inspiration from the heinous orange-and-purple monstrosities often donned by the Tigers of Lake Hartwell. The only thing uglier than Clemson's uniforms was Florida State's performance against Troy, but I believe the 'Noles got a wake-up call last Saturday and, besides, it's way too early in the season for Tommy Bowden to save his job by going on a winning streak. Florida State wins a close one at home in a contest that makes two of Bobby Bowden's sons look bad.
Dad blame it! (Photograph from E.S.P.N.)
Michigan at Notre Dame---This rivalry has always been contentious but offseason incidents have made the bad blood even worse, from a former coach's comments to a perceived slight in the blogosphere. This will be the Wolverines' first contest outside of the confines of the Big House and we all know what that means: Lloyd Carr's Maize and Blue squads haven't won the season's first road game in any autumn since 1999. I think this is the year that trend ends; Michigan fans are grumbling and the Fighting Irish, winners of three of their last four outings against the Wolverines, will be looking ahead to September 23's trip to East Lansing, where the Golden Domers intend to exact revenge on a Spartan squad that planted its flag in South Bend after winning its fifth straight game at Notre Dame. I'm taking Michigan to pull off the upset.
Surely I don't have to remind you of this after I just did a darn fool thing like pick Michigan to beat Notre Dame on the road, but, just to be on the safe side, I will reiterate my usual caveat and warn you that, whatever you do, please . . . Don't Bet On It!
The national game of disinterest will be posted shortly.