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

Because we’re mixing it up this week, I’m giving you the national picks before I give you the conference picks. (This is due partly to the fact that there is a reasonably significant Thursday night game, and due partly to the fact that I’m not entirely sure who is or is not in the SEC at this precise moment.)

My 2-3 ledger in last week’s national prognostications left me with a 14-10 record for the season, so my usual disclaimer obviously applies: Don’t Bet On It!

The following games will be played on Saturday, October 8, unless otherwise noted:

California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks (Thurs., Oct. 6): Is it just me, or did the Pac-12 make a huge splash by taking on two new teams, establishing a conference championship game, and inking a blockbuster new TV deal, all while threatening to re-order radically the college sports landscape, only to vanish from the national map shortly thereafter? Granted, that’s a bit unfair---the league has two teams ranked in the top ten, and both Cal and Oregon are 3-1---but, after the Ducks dropped their second straight to the SEC, the entire West Coast league dipped a bit below the radar. Perhaps Oregon will reassert itself as a powerhouse with a home win over Cal.

Boise St. Broncos at Fresno St. Bulldogs (Fri., Oct. 7): I included this one because it’s a moderately high-profile Friday night game in what is a remarkably low-profile weekend on the national scene. Frankly, the rivalry that should have been between two "State" schools named for cities is a rivalry that never really was, as Boise State has planted its flag in the heads, hearts, and homes of the Fresno State faithful, and that isn’t apt to change merely because the Bulldogs have home field advantage. Playing in the Raisin Capital of the World wasn’t enough to get the Golden State FSU past Ole Miss, and it won’t be nearly enough to get them past the Broncos, either.

Iowa Hawkeyes at Penn St. Nittany Lions: Remember all the stuff I wrote about the Pac-12, supra? Yeah, well, that goes double for the Big Ten. Iowa will win, Penn State will lose, and no one will care. (Spoiler alert: Yes, this week’s national game of disinterest is a Big Ten game.)

Oklahoma Sooners v. Texas Longhorns: I am, depending upon your point of view, either a staunch traditionalist or an obstinate curmudgeon. I have always said "John Cougar" (without the Mellencamp), "Hillary Clinton" (without the Rodham), and "Prince" (without the symbol); I still call the Football Bowl Subdivision "Division I-A" and the Georgia-Florida game "The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party"; and, as much as I appreciate alliteration, I don’t use the phrase "Red River Rivalry," because it’s a shootout. (Out in Big 12 country, they love them some firearms.) I’m not buying that the ‘Horns are back, so I look for them to get hooked by the Sooners.

Yeah, I know; this week’s pickings are mighty slim, but that’s what’s out there, folks. It made selecting the national game of disinterest particularly tough, but at least I’ll be able to offer some contests of consequence when I get to the SEC slate. In the meantime, though, all I have to offer you is a warning: I’m bad at forecasting the outcomes of football games, so, whatever you do, . . . Don’t Bet On It!

Coming Soon: The national game of disinterest, followed by this weekend’s SEC predictions.

Go ‘Dawgs!