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Don't Bet On It!: Week Four College Football Forecasts for the National Games of Interest

I’m going to be honest with you . . . this week’s SEC games are the national games of interest. There isn’t bubkes going on elsewhere in college football, but I’m contractually obligated to produce this segment each week (all right, not really), so this is the best I could do.

A 4-3 mark in last week’s national forecasts dropped me to 11-8 for the fall, so it scarcely needs to be said that, no matter how inclined you may be to take senseless risks with your own money, please pay attention when I tell you: Don’t Bet On It!

Miami Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Panthers (Thursday, Sept. 23): This week’s Thursday night showdown could go a long way toward determining the Big East championship. Oh, wait, the ‘Canes play in the ACC now, don’t they? Oh, well: ACC, Big East; tomayto, tomahto. We should call the whole thing off, but, since ESPN is planning to send cameras, crew members, and on-air talent smug preening dufi Craig James and Jesse Palmer to cover the action, I guess it’s unavoidable that this game will take place as planned. I’m going with Miami as the less overrated of this pair of parvenu programs.

Nevada Wolf Pack at BYU Cougars: This is a critical contest between WAC combatants Mountain West foes rival independents a team from a state where gambling and prostitution are legal and a team from a university where alcohol and caffeine are sinful a team from a state that once promoted polygamy and a team from the city that pioneered the quickie divorce two teams from west of the Mississippi River who may or may not have anything else in common. Brigham Young is reeling from back-to-back shellackings suffered on the road, as Air Force and Florida State combined to pummel the Cougs by a cumulative 69-24 margin. BYU looks to right the ship against Nevada, which rolls into Provo fresh from thumping Colorado State and Cal by a collective 103-37 score. The Cougars are hoping to bounce back, the Wolf Pack is hoping to avoid a letdown, and I’m inclined to think Nevada will be the team that succeeds in its stated objective.

Oklahoma Sooners at Cincinnati Bearcats: There is a popular joke in the South about a fellow who left one state for another and raised the average IQ of both. (If you want to know which states are involved in the joke, pull out a map of the United States. Basically, folks from every Southern state tell that joke about the fellow in question leaving their state and going to the state to the immediate left.) It appears that Brian Kelly did something similar, leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame and making both teams worse. The Bearcats have fallen on hard times, and they won’t be getting any better as the Sooners invade Ohio and hand Cincy the setback that will spare the Bearcats another embarrassing BCS bowl loss and set Oklahoma on a collision course with another such postseason disaster of their own.

Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Fighting Irish: I have good news and bad news for Coach Kelly. The good news is that, after heartbreaking losses to the Wolverines and the Spartans, he is done dealing with Michiganders. Finally, he gets to take on a team from California as Jim Harbaugh leads his . . . oh, wait, he went to Michigan, didn’t he? All right, scratch that. Let me start over again. I have good news and bad news for Coach Kelly. The good news is that, after heartbreaking losses to the Wolverines and the Spartans, he is done losing nailbiters. The bad news is that the Cardinal is going to pound the snot out of the Fighting Irish in this battle of prestigious private schools too pretentious to sully themselves by choosing nicknames with an "s" at the end. Ordinary pluralization is so common, you know.

Oregon St. Beavers at Boise St. Broncos: Sometimes the narrative becomes the narrative because that’s the storyline ESPN wants to sell you, and sometimes the narrative becomes the narrative because it’s true. For instance, Oregon State will start out 1-2 before finishing 9-4, this game will be hailed as big by the Broncos’ boosters and denounced as not big enough by their detractors, references to the blue field will abound throughout the broadcast, and Boise State will win at home.

California Golden Bears at Arizona Wildcats: It’s not that I don’t have faith in Arizona; I do. I picked the Wildcats to attend the Holiday Bowl, for crying out loud. It’s just that, every time I see Mike Stoops ranting on the sideline, I’m reminded of Patrick Warburton’s character from "Bee Movie," and I don’t have a lot of faith that he’ll be able to keep it together after a big win like the one his team experienced last weekend, because I’m always concerned that he’ll get bent out of shape when "yogurt night" doesn’t come off as planned. It seems much more likely to me that Jeff Tedford will be able to refocus his squad in the wake of a disheartening loss, so I like Cal to pull off the upset.

Look, I’m going to be honest with you. It was a stretch trying to come up with six games not involving SEC teams that were even remotely interesting, so I’m even less certain of these predictions than I usually am, which is saying something, so, this week, of all weeks, please hear me now and believe me later. Whatever you do, . . . Don’t Bet On It!

Coming Soon: National Game of Disinterest.

Go ‘Dawgs!