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Don't Bet On It: National Games of Interest

Yesterday morning, I offered my first set of picks for the 2007 season, which produced much celebration in Bulldog Nation. That brings us to the national games of interest in this inaugural installment of a feature we like to call . . . Don't Bet On It!

The source of the name is fairly straightforward. My ability to forecast the outcomes of college football games is atrociously bad, so much so that, in non-S.E.C. games last season, I posted an 80-34 record. Consequently, you should treat my prognostications as entertaining (at best) and should in no way consider them based upon knowledge, insight, or accuracy. In other words, whatever you do . . . Don't Bet On It!

Emily Procter playing celebrity poker? You can bet on that, if you like. (You're welcome, fotodog.)

Having already taken you around the S.E.C., I now turn to the national games of interest, all of which will be played on Saturday, September 1, unless otherwise indicated:

Colorado v. Colorado State: One of my pet peeves as a Georgia fan is the fact that the Red and Black now routinely end the regular season against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are an in-state rival but, since the mid-1960s, they have not been a conference opponent and, quite frankly, I do not believe the Ramblin' Wreck deserves to be given pride of place at the end of the Bulldogs' annual slate. Between 1915 and 1952, the Classic City Canines concluded the campaign against the Golden Tornado 19 times while wrapping up the schedule against Alabama four times, Centre twice, Clemson three times, Dartmouth once, Miami (Florida) five times, and Southern California twice. It was not until 1953---the 60th season in which Georgia fielded a football team---that the Yellow Jackets became a permanent fixture at the end of the Red and Black's slate. Long before that, Georgia's true traditional season-ending opponent had been established: Auburn. (I hate Auburn.) In the 23 seasons from 1892 to 1914, the 'Dawgs ended the autumn against the Plainsmen 18 times. Georgia Tech would not occupy the final spot on the Georgia schedule for the first time until 1927, by which time the Bulldogs were on their 17th head football coach. The Deep South's oldest rivalry ought to represent the culmination of the season for the Red and Black, with the in-state contest being relegated to earlier in the year. Because I believe that so strongly, I routinely call attention to the fact that many other clashes for local bragging rights occur prior to Thanksgiving. One such example is the Centennial State showdown at the neutral site in Denver, where the Buffaloes and the Rams have split the last eight series meetings but the Big 12 team has gotten the better of the Mountain West squad three times in the last four years. Dan Hawkins's second Colorado team will be much improved over a 2-10 squad that fell to five ranked opponents yet dropped half of its 10 losses by single-digit margins. The Buffs have lost nine straight games in venues other than Folsom Field but that streak will end on Saturday as Colorado claims victory over Colorado State.

Washington State at Wisconsin: Legend has it that this game originally was scheduled due to a misunderstanding. A high-ranking athletic department official from one of these two universities was inebriated in a local watering hole when the sports intern sent to fetch him from the bar misunderstood his slurred order of a whiskey and water as a command to arrange a game between Wiscy and Wazzu. I can't confirm that, it's just what I heard. Bret Bielema made a believer out of me last year, in spite of the fact that I spent almost the entire offseason pronouncing his surname "buy-Lima" (the Peruvian city, not the bean), so I'm going with the Badgers to get the better of the Cougars, even though I'm pretty sure such a confrontation would go quite differently in the wild.

Utah at Oregon State (Thursday, August 30): The making of this pick is somewhat confused by Sammie Stroughter's uncertain status, but some insights have been offered by Jake and JazzyUte. The Beavers have dropped three of the last five series meetings with the Utes, but still Utah is 2-5 in its last seven regular-season visits to Pac-10 stadiums. If one of these teams manages to win convincingly, the victor will be on my radar screen when it comes time to fill out my next BlogPoll ballot, but, in the interim, I'm taking Oregon State to win a competitive contest.

When the Beavers beat the Utes, wholesome family entertainment will triumph over Joe Pesci dropping the F-bomb with willful abandon.

Arizona at Brigham Young: The Wildcats return nine defensive starters, feature an innovative new play-caller in Sonny Dykes, and come into 2007 riding the momentum from a 3-1 finish. I bought into Arizona. I spread the word about Arizona. I failed to heed the warnings of close friends about Arizona because Sunday Morning Quarterback told me I might not be completely crazy to believe in Arizona, even though SMQ promptly picked the Wildcats to finish seventh in the Pac-10. (On the seventh day, SMQ rested.) Then Matt Hayes took up Arizona's cause and I bailed. If the Colorado-Colorado State pick wasn't just sitting there waiting for me to mess it up, this game was bound and determined to be a stumbling block to me. I'm going with the Wildcats to beat the Cougars in a battle for Western feline supremacy, but I just know I'm going to be wrong about this one.

Wake Forest at Boston College: Jim Grobe, your reversion to the mean begins in five . . . four . . . three . . . two. . . . While Coach Grobe has done a fine job in Winston-Salem, his primary achievement has been to raise the sad sack Demon Deacons to the level of consistent mediocrity. According to Phil Steele (and would you dare to doubt Phil Steele?), Coach Grobe boasts a 70-68-1 career ledger and, in his tenure at Wake Forest, he has gone 37-35 overall, 19-18 at home, 16-16 on the road, and 1-1 in bowl games. That's about as middling as a guy can get. After the Deacs went 6-0 on the road in 2006, the law of averages is bound to catch up to them this season and nowhere is that more likely to commence than in Chestnut Hill, where a Boston College squad that returns nine starters from a defense that limited opponents to 15.7 points per game will face a defending A.C.C. champion that returns nine starters from an offense that eked out only 21.6 points per contest. Since 1991, the Demon Deacons are just 3-13 in conference openers and I like the Eagles to make it 3-14.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame: Wake Forest won't wake any echoes, but will Charlie Weis be able to get the Irish up for their date with the team that no college football fan will ever forgive for giving up that dadgum sack to Rudy? For many of us, this is a meteor game, as it forces us to choose between mascots ranging from the offensive to the pathetic, but the outcome is not in doubt. The Yellow Jackets have the good fortune of returning as many as eight starters from last year's defense and the even better fortune of not returning their starting quarterback. The Golden Domers have the bad fortune of returning as many as five starters from last year's defense and the even worse fortune of not returning their starting quarterback. Georgia Tech wins in South Bend without breaking a sweat.

Florida State at Clemson (Monday, September 3): Brace yourselves, people. We're going to get more shots of a worried Ann Bowden fretting in the stands on Monday night than we got of Laura Quinn during the Fiesta Bowl wearing that ridiculous half-Notre Dame/half-Ohio State jersey. The First Lady of College Football ought to be a worried woman, since the losing coach in this year's Bowden Bowl likely will have seen the antepenultimate nail driven into his professional coffin by the nationally televised setback. Fortunately for Mrs. Bowden, she'll have Jeff sitting in the bleachers next to her to keep her calm. Meanwhile, I have my doubts about each of these teams, as evidenced by the fact that I dropped them both on my revised preseason BlogPoll ballot. After a good bit of going back and forth, I ended up going with the home team as the two sons---Bobby's and Clem's---get the better of the 'Noles in a Tiger triumph.

The preceding game prediction was brought to you by Pixar Animation Studios.

It goes without saying that I'll be doing well if I manage to finish above .500 for the week with that crummy set of forecasts. Nevertheless, a fellow can't be too careful, so I would hasten to remind you of my regular disclaimer, which should be adhered to strictly in all situations. Succinctly stated, my admonition to you is this: Don't Bet On It!

Coming soon . . . the national game of disinterest. Stay tuned.

Go 'Dawgs!