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Don't Bet On It!: National Games of Interest

The comments left after my initial BlogPoll ballot draft made up in quality what they lacked in quantity, so I was persuaded to inch the LSU Tigers ahead of the USC Trojans (hopefully without reigniting any billboard wars over the 2003 national championship!), rank the Auburn Tigers (in spite of the fact that I hate Auburn), and take a chance on the Stanford Cardinal. I will confess to being a bit leery of the folks on the Farm, but I’ll give them a whirl for a week, and, while I’m convinced the Plainsmen are a bit too high, I couldn’t very well elevate them past West Virginia without also letting them leapfrog South Florida. Consequently, the revised final draft of my top 25 looks like so:

Rank Team Delta
1 Alabama 1
2 Texas 1
3 Florida
4 Cincinnati 3
5 Boise State 3
7 Iowa 3
8 Oregon 3
9 Ohio State 7
10 Pittsburgh 1
11 Houston 4
12 Georgia Tech 2
13 Miami (Florida)
14 LSU 5
15 Southern Cal 3
16 Oklahoma State 2
17 Penn State 3
18 Arizona 3
19 Wisconsin
20 Auburn
21 South Florida 4
22 West Virginia
23 Utah
24 Brigham Young 1
25 Stanford
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Rutgers (#20), Notre Dame (#22), California (#24).

I am much obliged to everyone who took the time to offer constructive criticisms.

Now, to the business at hand. It’s Auburn week here at Dawg Sports (and I hate Auburn), so we’re going to mix it up a little, both because that sometimes works when the Plainsmen are on the slate and because, now that I’ve distracted you with the final version of my BlogPoll ballot, you may overlook the fact that I went 0-4 in last week’s non-SEC picks when I turn to this week’s national games of interest. Please bear in mind that I am 24-28 in such outings this season, because that’s really all the reminder you need to remember this rule of thumb: Don’t Bet On It!

Each of the following contests will take place on Saturday, November 14, in the absence of an explicit indication to the contrary:

South Florida Bulls at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Thurs., Nov. 12): ESPN’s annual Weeknight Round-Robin Pick-a-Champion-Any-Champion Big-East-a-Thon gets underway tomorrow evening when the student-athletes of USF travel from the University of South Florida campus in west central Florida to the home field of the flagship university of the Garden State, where there likely are neither gardens nor lumberjacks. I have seldom gone right reposing even a scintilla of faith in either of these teams, so, since the Bulls are the more highly-positioned of the two contenders, I’m going with the Scarlet Knights instead.

West Virginia Mountaineers at Cincinnati Bearcats (Fri., Nov. 13): Far be it from me to invoke the most annoying anthem in all of intercollegiate athletics---memo to the Tennessee band: learn a second song!---but "Rocky Top" seems strangely appropriate as the background music to this hoedown showdown. The description of mountain life (particularly the Snuffy Smith-style verse about revenuers going up in the hills in search of an illegal distillery and ending up somewhere they’ll never be found) conforms closely to our stereotypes about rural West Virginians, while the Cincinnati mascot appears to have been inspired by the genuinely disturbing lyrics about a romantic interlude with a girl who was "half bear" and "the other half cat." Particularly since most of the Volunteer fans who prefer 9-0 and dignified to 5-4 and loudmouthed wanted Chip Kelly rather than Lane Kiffin, anyway, I think it would be appropriate for the band to play "Rocky Top" after Cincinnati wins.

Utah Utes at TCU Horned Frogs: Anyone who doubts the ability of deserving teams from leagues whose champions do not qualify automatically for major bowl berths to establish themselves as permanent fixtures in the college football firmament need look no farther than Salt Lake City. The Utes, the original "BCS busters," have gone undefeated twice in the last five seasons, so we have become accustomed to the notion that Utah is perennially good. Consequently, when the Utes leap out to an 8-1 start, we hardly bother to ask whether it matters that seven of their eight victims are below .500, including such sad sacks as UNLV (4-6), Louisville (3-6), Colorado State (3-7), Utah State (2-7), San Jose State (1-7), and New Mexico (0-9). Honestly, Utah has done nothing this year except lose a close one to a team that Boise State beat handily. When Texas Christian wins at home because the Horned Frogs are the better team, we’ll see whether the Ute faithful grouse about wanting to break up the Bowl Championship Series after their club was given the benefit of the doubt heading into a clash with a TCU squad that gets only token respect despite having spent 73 of the last 87 seasons playing in a major conference and beaten an ACC division frontrunner earlier this autumn.

Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio St. Buckeyes: Don’t even ask. No, there’s not one. There’s no pail, cuspidor, hatchet, amphora, carillon, carving, commemoration of the Morrill Act, or other oddity associated with emerging victorious from the field of play in this one, which is strange, since it’s glaringly obvious that Mike Leach should be dressed up in pirate garb, bronzed, fastened to a wooden pedestal, and presented to the winner as the "Eye-Eye Captain." (Hey, it isn’t any dumber than Illy Illibuck.) I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick the home team with a quarterback to beat the visiting team without a quarterback. Much to the chagrin of everyone outside of the greater Columbus area, Ohio State takes another giant step towards clinching another dadgum Big Ten title.

By now, you know better than to put any stock whatsoever in my skills as a prognosticator, but it never hurts to reinforce first principles through repetition, so, please, whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It!

Also, today is Veterans Day (or---as my paternal grandfather, a World War I veteran, would have noted---Armistice Day), so be sure to take the time to express your gratitude to any soldiers or sailors you see, and take a moment to send up a prayer for the safety of the brave Americans wearing the uniform of their country, wherever they may be stationed in the world.

Coming Soon: Around the SEC.

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!