Power 5. Group of 5. Add two at large teams. 12 schools total. Seed four. Or, even better 6 at large teams. 16 total.
Still don’t understand how it’s OK at second level and not at first? Sigh.
Anyway. That pontification helped me hold off, for a few moments anyway, admitting I regressed last weekend, hitting only two of five correctly. UK and UCF came through. Michigan, West Virginia and Washington State let me, and their fans, down.
It’s been that kind of up and down campaign. Yet I’m still way above .500, at 39-26 for the year. And ever optimistic that the picks below are the correct ones.
Utah vs. Washington (PAC12, Santa Clara). Why no teams from this Left Coast conference in the CFP? Because they simply beat up on each other. The Utes have 3 Ls in the league (one to UDub, 7-21, at home); the Huskies, 2. I really wanted Wash State in this one, but the Cougs couldn’t hold on last week in the snow against their arch rival. UDub was considered nationwide before the season. Then they started playing games, opening with an L to underwhelming Auburn. Followed by tripping up against Cal and the Quack, neither of which is having a super season. Coaching wise, Chris Petersen gets a lotta pub, but Kyle Whittingham in his 14 years at the helm in Salt Lake City has won about 2 of every 3, and is 11-1 in bowl games, including, when the school was still in Mountain West, that 31-17 beatdown of the Tide in the ’09 Sugar Bowl. Utah has never competed in the Grand Daddy of all the bowl games. This year, they’ll have a float in the Tournament of Roses.
Alabama vs. Georgia (SEC, Atlanta). It’s a simple formula for the Bulldogs. Win, and you’re in. For the Crimson Tide, it’s a bit more complicated. If they falter, they’re probably still in the CFP, unless they’re throttled Saturday. They’ve done it before. Like, oh, last season. UGa’s been slobbering for this rematch all season. They had the Tide last year for the national crown, then they wuz tatTuaed. Bama’s been playing all season like maybe arguably conceivably the best college contingent ever. Georgia’s only L was in the Swamp, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Nick Saban is famously 12-0 against former assistants. Is this the moment when he slips up? When a loss would scramble the CFP picture like eggs on a Denny’s Big Farm Boy Breakfast Platter. Against my better judgement, I gotta hunch. Kirby Smart breaks the mold.
Texas vs. Oklahoma (Big12, JerryWorld). Among other considerations in this intriguing rematch, you have America’s richest college QB, Kyler Murray, vs. America’s most well endowed public university. No how about that Longhorn cheer squad, yowza, yowza, intended. The Burnt Orange have three Ls, so they haven’t any CFP aspirations, but there is that 48-45 W over Boomer Sooner back in October. If not for which Oklahoma would be more secure at #5 in the only rankings that matter. But, if the Sooners avenge that defeat, and Bama takes care of biz over UGa — which I have for some reason predicted won’t be the case — then Lincoln Riley’s guys will be in the playoff again. But, but, but, should Texas double its pleasure double its fun, students in Columbus will be swan diving off dorm tower roofs into the Olentangy. Assuming, oh, you know. We know about the deficiencies of Okie’s D, but oh my they can outscore most everybody. Which, it says here, they will do against Texas this time around. Sorry, Buckeye World.
Ohio State vs. Northwestern (B10, Indianapolis). I certainly don’t wish ill health on anybody. Even those I loathe like Urban Meyer. But I’d be pleased as punch if he’s forced to retire once and for all after this campaign. Playin’ with the grandkids is surely less stressful than roaming the sidelines in search of another national crown. For some odd reason, I’ve had a thing for Northwestern football since alum Pat Fitzgerald took over 13 seasons ago. Cannot give you a solid reason, except that the academic school has a truly beauteous campus, and, well, I just can’t explain it. Can the four loss Wildcats shock the pigskin planet by upsetting the Buckeyes? Yes, they can. But, will they? I just don’t think so. As much of a duplicitous schmuck that Urban Meyer is, he can coach. Especially when he’s got a lot of really good players.
Memphis State vs. Central Florida (AAC, Orlando). The four loss Tigers came within in a digit of last year’s national champion Knights earlier this campaign. But that was in the confines of home field Liberty Bowl. This time around they’ll have to journey into enemy territory against the winningest program in the sport these days. Though UCF will be without the duties of McKenzie Milton, with whom I can can commiserate, having suffered major traumatic injuries three decades apart to each of my legs. The “Smart Money” is chatting up Memphis State to break UCF’s winning skein. It is certainly a plausible presumption, given how close that regular season nailbiter was. But I picked against the Knights a couple of weeks ago. To my chagrin. Watching how fiercely they compete, I believe they are much more than Milton. At least enough more to handle the Tigers, and once again play in a New Year’s Six bowl.
— Seedy K