After taking a week off, "Don’t Bet On It!" has returned just in time for this weekend’s college football action. I already have taken you around the SEC, so the time has come to turn our attention to the contests of import outside our own conference. Be forewarned, though; in my most recent round of national picks, I went 4-2, leaving me at 20-11 for the year. That ought to make it clear just how little stock you should put in my prognostications, but, just to be on the safe side, I will warn you once again: Don’t Bet On It!
The following games will be played on Saturday, October 16, unless otherwise noted:
South Florida Bulls at West Virginia Mountaineers (Thursday, Oct. 14): The University of South Florida is located in west central Florida. West Virginia, while located in the western portion of Virginia, is not a state. (The admission of West Virginia as one of the United States was approved by the U.S. Congress, but not by the Virginia legislature, in clear violation of Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution.) The Big East is the smallest of the automatically qualifying conferences. Everything about this game is a lie, but this is the truth: the Mountaineers will beat the Bulls in Morgantown.
Oklahoma St. Cowboys at Texas Tech Red Raiders: How topsy-turvy a football season has it been so far? Consider this fact: Tommy Tuberville’s team ranks last in its league in rushing offense, averaging a mere 102.8 yards per game on the ground. (Maybe Mark Richt should give him a call and let him know you have to run the ball to win.) Don’t shed any tears for the Red Raiders, though, since their 36.8 points per game place them third in the Big 12 in scoring offense. Of course, that would be even more impressive if Texas Tech wasn’t going up against the team that leads the league in that category; the Pokes average 52.6 points per contest. The Raiders have improved in recent weeks, but, even though this game is in Lubbock, I think the offensive firepower of No. 19 Oklahoma State will allow the Cowboys to card a victory in this "pseudo-rivalry with rivalry potential."
Iowa Hawkeyes at Michigan Wolverines: Truly, I am amazed. Iowa plays games for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, Floyd of Rosedale, and the Heartland Trophy, and Michigan competes for the Little Brown Jug and the Paul Bunyan Trophy, but there appears to be no victory bauble associated with this game, making it perhaps the only Big Ten outing played after early October that does not involve the exchange of some bucket, sculpture, tool, trinket, troll doll nailed to an oddly-shaped hunk of rotten lumber, or other moldy piece of ancient useless bric-a-brac unearthed in a washed-out gully, abandoned mine shaft, or dilapidated factory sitting idle in downtown Detroit and transformed into a totem of victory by Midwesterners who somehow seem unable to enjoy the mere thrill of beating a conference rival on the gridiron unless some bizarre piece of junk from a flea market, garage sale, or dry well is on the line. Although the fans of the two teams doubtless will be indifferent to the outcome without there being a worthless trophy to claim, Iowa will walk away empty-handed after a victory on the road.
Texas Longhorns at Nebraska Cornhuskers: I believed in the Longhorns
one week two weeks too long, but I am off the Texas bandwagon. As much as I would like to believe the crew from Austin is going to replicate its upset of the Big Red Machine in the 1996 Big 12 Championship Game, the more relevant conference title tilt between these two teams was last year’s battle. The Cornhuskers have every advantage, as they will be playing on their home field with a justly higher-ranked squad and brimming with motivation to avenge last year’s loss, get the last laugh in their final season before leaving for the Big Ten, and take out their frustrations on the team that supplanted Nebraska as conference hegemon. I look for the ‘Huskers to hook the ‘Horns.
Ohio St. Buckeyes at Wisconsin Badgers: Now I am astounded. Ohio State battles to claim dibs on something called Illy Illibuck, while Wisconsin wrestles for the right to possess the aforementioned Heartland Trophy, Paul Bunyan’s Axe (which is different from the Paul Bunyan Trophy), and a Slab of Bacon obtained for purposes other than eating, yet there is no physical manifestation to symbolize victory in this contest. The idea that there could be two Big Ten games played in mid-October in which no trophy is at stake boggles my mind, since, as we all know, that conference is nothing short of fixated on animal carvings, beverage containers, farm implements, foodstuffs, and other equally strange indicia of winning games that matter not because it is consequential for the student-athletes representing one university to defeat the student-athletes representing another university in a heated century-old war for sports supremacy, but instead because the winner gets to take custody of some cheap chunk of freakiness yanked from a collapsed farmhouse, vacant lot, or random hole in the dirt and elevated to iconic status as the embodiment of all athletic striving in spite of the complete lack of any meaningful connection between college football and any of these bizarre bits of flotsam fished from a stagnant pool of brackish water in the middle of a junkyard on the outskirts of Cedar Falls. In a game noteworthy for being wholly bereft of goofy trophies that serve only to confuse onlookers and obscure the actual significance of victory, the Buckeyes will find a way to win in Madison.
I don’t know if you noticed this, but the last three games I picked involved the Hawkeyes, the Buckeyes, and a team whose fight song is "The Eyes of Texas." Weird. Given that progression, I’d better wrap this up before I break into a chorus of Hall & Oates’s "Private Eyes," the Guess Who’s "These Eyes," or the Eagles’ "Lyin’ Eyes." Accordingly, I will close with a reminder that, when it comes to my predictions, whatever you do, . . . Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Game of Disinterest.