Joey the Vig, a made guy known to have saved the first farthing he ever bilked, sent me a commiserative gift basket of fruit from Harry & David. One can only hope those pears help my predictionary acumen.
To shake things up in hopes of ratcheting up my winning percentage, I have retaken the Briggs Meyers to check for any personality disorder(s), reconfigured my big data algorithms and trekked to Saint Thomas Cemetery in Koochiching County, Minnesota to visit the grave of college pigskin nonpareil Bronko Nagurski. (Bronko’s spelled with a “k”, who knew?)
Last weekend, Wazzu State got its comeuppance in Berserkely, Auburn lost again in Death Valley, Bayou Edition and U of L’s defense decided to sit out the battle against BC in front of a half full Papa J’s. Sparty and the Horned Frogs came through. Thank you Green. Thank you Purple. 2-3 for the fifth weekend this campaign, lowers my record to 23-17 in toto.
Chastened, embarrassed but never reluctant to forge ahead, here are this week’s prognostications:
Oklahoma State @ Texas. Darkhorse though he was, Cowboy QB Mason Rudolph figured he’d at least be in the conversation at mid-season for the Heisman. But his cross-state rival didn’t throw a pick until Week VII, and, out of the blue, it turned into a RB kind o’ year. And we’re not even talking Saquon Barkley, whose chances have fallen prey to the mighty stats and speed of Stanford’s Bryce Love. Heck, Rudolph’s not getting as much attention as teammate James Washington. That said, bare-chested Coach Mullet’s gang is 5-1 and well-placed in the cockamamie B12. The only aberration of Texas’s 3-3 skein was that opening L to the Terrapins. Sooner of later Tom Herman’s squad is going to win one it’s not supposed to. The reins it appears have been handed off to real rookie Sam Ehlinger, who was throwing down Longhorn salutes from the crib. Austinites have darkened the hue of their shades so bright do they feel their future is. Is this the battle where Texas breaks on through to the other side? I say yes.
Michigan @ Penn State. As I’m about to make reference to Coach Khaki and his adversary this week, James Franklin, I realize I do a lot of riffing here about coaches, and not so much about players. Not sure why, but when those final Briggs Meyer’s results come in, I’ll report back. So I can continue with my belief that these two mentors are neck and neck in this year’s race — hell, every year’s race — to win the Charlie Weis Trophy, which goes annually to the most disagreeable, most disliked coach in the sport. (I’ll get to that contenda in South Bend in the next paragraph.) Meanwhile the Nittany Lions have been impressive, undefeated and giving up the least number of points per game in the land at 9.0. The Wolverines have only lost once but were nip and tuck last time out in Bloomington. This week they go down again in State College.
Southern Cal @ Notre Dame. Yeah, Brian Kelly’s putzicity is surely on par with Harbaugh’s and Franklin’s, but I haven’t been paying much attention to the Fighting Irish this season. Neither, apparently, have the pigskin pundits across the land. ND’s only loss was by a single point to surging Georgia. Yet the ever too popular, always too well regarded Irish haven’t vaulted to the upper echelon as they usually do when they’re over .500. #13 in one poll, #16 in the other. Meanwhile the underwhelming but still only one loss Trojans are a few spots above. It’s been awhile since this was a Top 15 matchup, so you know the muckety mucks at NBC are just pumped for this Saturday night’s Nielson’s. This is Kelly’s 8th season in South Bend, and before it started, the faithful were grumbling. The relatively impressive start has quieted the murmur. I believe the Irish will win, which will out of tradition and habit vault them into the Final Four conversation.
Kentucky @ Mississippi State. It says something — though I’m not sure exactly what — that the Cowbells (4-2, 1-2) are double digit favorites over the 5-1, 2-1 Wildcats. What I do know is the outcome in Starkville will be a key indicator whether UK has really turned the corner under Mark Stoops, or if it’s the shaky same ol’ same ol’. Kentucky has been just winning except in Gainesville where they just lost when they left a guy wide open in the endzone for the losing score. The Bulldogs manhandled LSU, but were similarly throttled themselves by UGa and Auburn. I don’t have a feel for this game. Which, to be honest, might be a good thing. It means I’m going to walk into the other room, grab a quarter and flip it. Heads: Cats. Tails: Cowbells. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (The ellipses indicate the time it took to walk into the other room, flip the coin and return.) Tails.
Louisville @ Florida State. Before the season, when Louisville’s pigskin hopes were high, before the university and its athletics program became a national laughingstock with its own permanent box in the ESPN scrawl (Or is it crawl?), I had this down as the absolutely, positively only sure Cardinal loss of the season. Why? You have to ask? 63-20. With Herbie and Coach Corso in the house. It was the Seminoles’ worst defeat ever. And I’m talking about to all the way back when the tribe — the real tribe not the school mascot — was formed out of the Creek and Choctaw. Jimbo’s Noles have been injury plagued and thus not the national contender they’d hoped to be. But still. Remember last week, when I advised I was no longer going to pick the Cards just because they are my favorite team? Then I picked them against BC, which showed U of L what happens when you come to play. Well, this is one of those I hope I’m wrong predictions. Florida State.
— Seedy K