Like Jerry Seinfeld’s character in the opening scene of "Bee Movie," I’m going to shake it up a little this week by starting with the national games of interest, a category in which I went 4-1 last week to boost my overall record to 20-18. When two straight solid weeks of non-SEC picks get me up to a .526 winning percentage, you know I mean it when I say . . . Don’t Bet On It!
The slate of weeknight games contains nary a note of intrigue (as you know already if you’re watching the Tulsa-UTEP tilt), so each of these outings will be played on Saturday, October 24:
South Florida Bulls at Pittsburgh Panthers: I swear, I watched this game just last week. No, wait, rather than watching them play one another, I watched them play teams I can’t distinguish from one another. I’m sorry, but, ever since Miami and Virginia Tech bolted for the ACC, I haven’t been able to tell Big East teams apart unless they happen to have a 28-0 lead on Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. In any case, the participants may have changed, but the result remains the same: USF is bound for its usual one-game-over-.500-in-league-play finish and Pitt is on its way back to the top . . . if by "top," of course, you mean "periodic forays into the mid-teens in the polls."
Penn St. Nittany Lions at Michigan Wolverines: I’m only picking this game because I marvel at the sheer level of futility involved in this series. Since 1997, Penn State has lost nine out of ten meetings with the Maize and Blue, finally snapping the streak last season. Sometimes, getting the win that breaks an opponent’s longstanding stranglehold on a rivalry changes the psychology of the series and shifts the momentum entirely, as proved to be true with Clemson’s win over Georgia in 1977 or Ohio State’s win over Michigan in 2001. Usually, though, such pendulum swings are precipitated by coaching changes; viz., Charley Pell and Jim Tressel in my previous examples. In this instance, the coaching change was from Lloyd Carr to Rich Rodriguez, and Michigan appears to have made the adjustment to Coach Rod’s new system after a year’s worth of growing pains. The fact that the game is being played in the Big House is just a bonus, as the Wolverines are going to maul the Lions to prove that last year’s result, like the 2004 World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, was an aberrational outcome occurring in a time of transition having no lasting impact on the course of the rivalry.
Oregon St. Beavers at USC Trojans: All right, I admit it; I’m only picking this game because of all the humor possibilities that are afforded by the mascots in play here. The "big uglies" on the lines are going to run into one another and "bump uglies" as the offensive forward wall attempts to provide reliable protection long enough for the quarterback to go deep. All right, that’s enough of that. Not only will the Trojans prevail, they’ll cover. Dang it, I did it again, didn’t I?
Boston College Eagles at Notre Dame Fighting Irish: "Pwn3d" is not ordinarily a part of my vocabulary, but I feel comfortable using the term in this instance, in light of the fact that, if I were to attend this game, I’d probably be the hippest guy in the stands . . . which is an insult to both fan bases, not a compliment to me. Frankly, I’m not willing to flip far enough back in the various tomes and periodicals arrayed around my computer to see just how many games in a row Boston College has taken from the Golden Domers, but it suffices to say that it’s a bunch. With the Eagles peaking and the Irish reeling after their disheartening loss to USC, I like Boston College to continue their dominance of a program that increasingly has difficulty looking down its nose at a Bay State club that has surpassed it.
TCU Horned Frogs at BYU Cougars: This may qualify as the biggest mid-major bout of the weekend, unless you count the aforementioned Boston College-Notre Dame game. (I kid, drothgery, I kid.) We in Bulldog Nation will be watching this game with interest now that Lakepoets has clued us in to the wonder and the grandeur that is Dick Bumpas. After my prediction on the Oregon State-Southern California game, I’m refraining from further comment, except to say that I place my faith in Coach Bumpas’s defense to have us all yelling, "How ‘bout them Frogs!"
One of the pluses of having systematically alienated every opposing fan base in the blogosphere is that I scarcely any longer even need to remind you that I have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, but, out of an abundance of caution, permit me to remind you that, whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: Around the SEC.