Each week during football season, I provide predictions for all the games involving S.E.C. teams, as well as other national games of interest. I am awful at this endeavor, which is why I refer to the exercise with the warning . . . Don't Bet On It!
In conjunction with this, however, I also highlight---or, I reckon, lowlight---one game each week which has distinguished itself in a most unfavorable manner.
Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery demonstrates how not to watch the game I am about to describe.
It is a point of pride with me that I can find a way to root in almost every game. Even if it involves participants to whom I have no preexisting ties or takes place in a part of the country to which I have never been, I will, somehow, some way, come up with a reason to prefer one team over the other and root accordingly.
Seemingly every weekend, though, there is one game in which I cannot achieve this objective. Try as I might, I am unable to overcome my absolute indifference long enough to distinguish one combatant from the other, so apathetic am I regarding the outcome of the seemingly meaningless contest between them. This game is the national game of disinterest.
I thought about assigning that designation to Thursday night's slugfest between Louisiana-Monroe and Tulsa, but, since that is the first game of college football season, I actually consider it an intriguing appetizer for the subsequent (and likely less competitive) Southeastern Conference showdown.
Ouachita Parish Junior College Northeast Center of Louisiana State University Northeast Junior College of Louisiana State University Northeast Louisiana State College Northeast Louisiana University University of Louisiana at Monroe Indians Warhawks . . . uh, go, whoever you are!
Accordingly, this week's national game of disinterest is . . .
Illinois v. Missouri
Yes, I know it's two B.C.S. league teams meeting at a neutral site in St. Louis for a geographically natural non-conference rivalry, but, I mean . . .
Come on! Come on!
The Fighting Illini won two games last year. The year before that, they won two games. The year before that, they won three games. The year before that, they won one game. The year before that, they opened up a can to the tune of five whole victories. Winning 13 games ought to be a team's goal for a single season, not its achievement for a half-decade.
Illinois is picked to finish 11th in the Big Ten. That's not only shameful, it ought to be mathematically impossible.
You had this guy and Chief Illiniwek was the one you canned?
Ah, but wait! On the other side, we have Missouri! The Tigers are an up and coming team! This could be their year! Of course, the reason this could be Mizzou's year is that last year (which also could have been Missouri's year) wasn't, nor was the year before that, nor was the year before that.
Despite playing in the football-challenged Big 12 North, the Tigers have managed to go from contenders to pretenders in every season in recent memory, led by Gary Pinkel, the perpetual rising star who never actually manages to gain any altitude, posting a 37-34 record in seven years at the Missouri helm.
This game is going to be boring with a capital "B" and the viewership is going to be snoring with a capital "Z," as this contest pits a pair of coaches whose present employment at the college level perpetuates the injustice of robbing them both of the opportunity to take some deserving high school team in Ohio to the state quarterfinals every third or fourth season.
This pitched battle between teams that each dare to dream of a berth in the Alamo Bowl will be a snoozefest for all concerned. Therefore, the Illini's date with Mizzou is this week's national game of disinterest. I ain't picking it because I couldn't care less.