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

Happy Thanksgiving! After taking last week off following the death of Uga VII, I once again will be picking the winners in games of interest around the country. I don’t like to brag, but, the weekend before last, I went 4-0 to bring my season-long ledger to 28-28. Yeah, it took a perfect week to get me back to .500, which is all the evidence you would ever need to know that I mean it when I say . . . Don’t Bet On It!

Each of the following games will be played on Saturday, November 28, unless otherwise noted (although, with only a couple of exceptions, such notations necessarily appear):

Texas Longhorns at Texas A&M Aggies (Thursday, Nov. 26): I’ll say this for the Aggies . . . they certainly know how to name a football stadium! That, though, is where Texas A&M’s competence in gridiron-related matters ends. The Aggies have made a hash of essentially every pigskin-related decision they’ve made since they concluded that consistently fielding winning teams that played good defense warranted replacing R.C. Slocum. The ‘Horns have come up short against their little brothers in College Station lately and they’re not apt to do it again. Intensity will keep this one close for a half before Texas puts it on cruise control after intermission.

Illinois Fighting Illini at Cincinnati Bearcats (Friday, Nov. 27): Frankly, the Big East frontrunners are getting hosed on this game. I’m sure Cincy scheduled it with the intention of beefing up the Bearcats’ schedule with what was then a decent Big Ten team, but the Illini haven’t exactly held up their end of the deal. The politically incorrect mascot from the Prairie State is going to fall flat against the incoherently cross-bred mascot from the Buckeye State as Cincinnati whips up on Illinois.

Pittsburgh Panthers at West Virginia Mountaineers (Friday, Nov. 27): There’s a lot on the line in this year’s Backyard Brawl pitting the cast of "Flashdance" against the cast of "Coal Miner’s Daughter," as Bill Stewart’s squad has the chance to knock Pitt down a peg when the Panthers are on the verge of a return to national prominence for the first time since the 1980s. Were it not for the presence of the name "Bill Stewart" in the preceding sentence, I’d be confident of the Mountaineers’ ability to pull off the upset, but, when Dave Wannstedt is the most capable head coach on the field, the odds are that Pittsburgh will find a way to win.

Nevada Wolf Pack at Boise St. Broncos (Friday, Nov. 27): Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . last real WAC test . . . potent rushing offense . . . "pistol" formation . . . Chris Ault . . . blah, blah, blah . . . if the Broncos are playing at home against a conference opponent, I’m not picking against Boise State.

Miami Hurricanes at South Florida Bulls: I’m still having trouble adjusting to the fact that this isn’t a battle for Big East supremacy, or, really, even for Sunshine State bragging rights, unless having beaten Florida State still counts for something, which I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Honestly, I think USF is the better team and they’re playing in Tampa, but, since I’ve already picked Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Boise State, I might as well stick with my Thanksgiving theme of siding with universities named after cities and select Miami, too.

Utah Utes at BYU Cougars: In all candor, I must admit that I’m picking this one only because it will eliminate one of these two parvenus from any claim to a national ranking. These are two strong Mountain West programs---Brigham Young historically and Utah recently---but neither of them has done anything the least bit impressive in 2009, yet name recognition and pretty records based on soft schedules have gotten them both into the top 25, which is preposterous. I think the Cougars are the bigger pretender, so I’m picking the Utes, but no one should be duped into believing either of these teams is worthy of a poll position.

Naturally, the foregoing prognostications should be considered in light of the fact that I virtually never have two good weeks in a row in non-SEC forecasts, which means a disastrous week assuredly is in store for me this week. In other words . . . Don’t Bet On It!

Coming Soon: National Game of Disinterest.

Go ‘Dawgs!