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

I went 4-4 last week in my national picks, so I continue to be staring up at .500 for the year with an overall 8-10 record in games not involving SEC squads. That should mean no disclaimer is necessary, but, if people still need a warning label on a pack of cigarettes to tell them that inhaling smoke is bad for them, I reckon I should stay on the safe side and remind you, whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It!

Here are this week’s noteworthy national games, which are slated to take place on Saturday unless otherwise indicated:

Missouri Tigers at Nevada Wolf Pack (Sept. 25): Memo to Mizzou: Big 12 teams attempting to convince us that they are perennial contenders rather than one-hit wonders do themselves no favors by playing at Nevada. Hosting the Wolf Pack, fine; UNR represents a respectable mid-major, not on the level of a Boise State or a Utah or even a Fresno State, but, still, you get some credit for scheduling them. Playing at Nevada, though? No way. I could even see going to UNLV if you’re interested in whiling away the weekend in Sin City. Besides, if you lost to the Runnin’ Rebels on the road, you could always tell the pollsters not to drop you in the rankings because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But Reno? This will be the Tigers’ first true away game and the Wolf Pack’s first home game, but, at the end of the day, Nevada has never beaten a Big 12 opponent and they won’t start on Friday night. Missouri will love the company of their hospitable hosts in a road win.

TCU Horned Frogs at Clemson Tigers: The Country Gentlemen appear to be on a bit of a magical history tour, what with last week’s game against Boston College (the team the Tigers tamed in their first bowl game) and this week’s tilt with Texas Christian (the 1959 Bluebonnet Bowl victim that gave Clemson its last postseason win prior to the ascension of Danny Ford). The Jungaleers aren’t just touching Howard’s Rock, they’re acting out a Frank Howard retrospective. The Horned Frogs arguably have been the most consistently solid team from outside the major conferences over the course of the last decade, and, although a second TCU road win over an ACC opponent in September would put the club from Fort Worth in BCS bowl contention and quite probably in first place in the Atlantic Coastal Atlanticoastal Coastatlantic Division, I don’t see it happening. We won’t be yelling, "How ‘bout them Frogs!" after the Tigers take care of business in Death Valley.

Texas Tech Red Raiders at Houston Cougars: It’s put up or shut up time for the Cougars. They got our attention by beating the high-flying Oklahoma St. Cowboys, but what will they do for an encore? These two teams haven’t crossed paths since the Southwest Conference disbanded, so Houston’s all-time series lead (17-10-1) over the Red Raiders really isn’t relevant, but this datum may be: the Cougs have won six of their last seven out-of-conference home games, including one over the aforementioned Pokes. Everything seems to be going Houston’s way, with the Cougars coming off of an open date and Texas Tech trying to rebound from a tough loss in Austin, but I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger here. Houston, you have a problem, and that problem is the fact that the Red Raiders are going to walk out of your stadium with a win.

California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks: The over/under on mismatched articles of clothing worn by the home team is three. (Seriously, feathers on the jerseys? Why don’t you people go all in and bring back the most popular hairstyle of 1982 while you’re at it . . . or, perhaps, party like it’s 1994?) Although the Ducks are playing better football after a disastrous opening leg of the campaign, I doubt whether Chip Kelly will be making any more money-back guarantees this week. Southern California’s stumble opened the door for the Berkeley Bears, who will lend credence to the false notion that any team other than USC is going to win the Pac-10 by registering a Cal victory in Eugene.

Iowa Hawkeyes at Penn St. Nittany Lions: I was going to pick the Hawkeyes, until I saw that everyone’s favorite Iowa bloggers set forth ten reasons why the Nittany Lions would win. There’s a chance they could have been kidding, but I’m going to go with Penn State, anyway.

Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech Hokies: After spending the first couple of weekends generating excitement by taking part in tight games against Division I-AA teams, the Atlantic Coast Conference decided to wake up and play a little football. All of a sudden, the ACC is starting to look like what we thought it was going to be . . . no, not the next superconference; I mean a league dominated by interlopers brought in from the outside, as longtime independent Florida State and Big East refugees Miami (Florida) and VPI once again appear to be the class of the conference as also-rans from the mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas cower in fear. In a contest that is either a championship game preview or a division-determining showdown (I’m pretty sure it can’t be both, but I don’t rule that out, either), I like the Gobblers to get ’Caned.

You may look at some of those prognostications and wonder whether I am divorced from reality. If so, you may have a point, but at least give me credit for not being as delusional as the Tennessee Volunteers fan who publicly fantasized that the Georgia Bulldogs "just aren’t gonna be able to keep up with Tennessee[’s] and Florida’s recruiting." Uh, yeah, right, dude. Marlon Brown is totally buying that line of argument, and so is Rodney Garner.

I like the Tennessee people---clearly, they are my favorite opposing fan base among our annual rivals---but, Moses on a pony, the constant mental stress of having to defend Lane Kiffin is driving them all systematically batty. Please remember, therefore, when it comes to Volunteer fans’ protestations of faith in Coach Kiffin the minor, as well as to my predictions concerning the outcomes of college football games, the rule of thumb is the same and a simple one . . . Don’t Bet On It!

Coming Soon: National Game of Disinterest.

Go ‘Dawgs!