My pick in the season’s first game with an FBS school was Abilene Christian, an FCS school of little note, which was hanging on to a couple point advantage with the clock running down. Georgia State, a newcomer to the ‘BIG TIME,” which had gone Ofer ’13 — zero Ws — had the ball. A field goal would win it for the home standing Panthers on their Georgia Dome turf.
And put me, prediction-wise, behind the eight ball from the get go this season.
The Panthers’ final offensive possession was fitful. Though my main man, cousin AJ Kaplan Sr., a 2d team All Sun Belt LG, was doing his best to seal the W for AC. First, he almost stalled the drive with an illegal procedure. Then, on a play where G State scored, he held while protecting his QB Nick Arbuckle Jr., taking the winning points off the board.
But his transgressions weren’t fatal. Sigh. No extra gelt in cuz AJ’s Hanukkah stocking this year. You gotta close the deal, son.
The Panthers tallied a field goal, winning their first battle since ’12.
Abilene Christian started the season, 0-1.
More importantly, so did I.
My forecasts proved no more correct come Saturday. Central Florida lost to Penn State in Dublin in an eerily similar fashion, on a field goal with 0:00 on the clock, going 0-1 for the young season. The Nittany Lions start 1-0.
The kid thus stood 0-2.
Then came that beatdown in Columbia, S.C.. The Gamecocks, 0-1, were cock-a-doodle-don’t. The rampaging Texas Aggies started their season, 1-0.
The kid, wondering whatever happened to his mojo hand, was 0-3.
And the weekend wasn’t over.
Fortunately, Mark Stoops’ Kentucky Wildcats came through, gobsmacking Tennessee Martin’s talon-less Skyhawks, by like 50 points.
Back on track was I, though at 1-3, assured of a losing record, going into Week 2.
Then came the one we’ve all been waiting for. Cards and ‘Canes. Monday Night. Prime Time on The World Wide Leader.
Thank you, dear Alma Mammy, may the spirit of The Schnell stat strong. A last quarter manly man, down your throat, clock eating drive, ending with a Bobby Petrino take that TD sealed the deal.
So, I’m 2-3. Not a great start to the year here.
Undaunted, I forge ahead with this week’s prognostications.
Brigham Young @ Texas. Just a week ago, Charlie Strong, a coach who coaches better with a stellar QB on the field, was ebullient — at least as ebullient as the very stern Strong gets — over the return of David Ash. Now he’s out again, as he was last season, with a concussion. The Burnt Orange faithful are a bit more crisp around the edges. My guess is the former U of L coach can feel the short leash tugging already. BYU, one of the nation’s four FBS independents, can’t be feeling that cocky with its 35-10 W over UConn. I mean, a win in Storrs and $3.50 will get you two Big Macs. The Longhorns’ beatdown of North Texas last weekend is similarly where’s the beef? BYU romped over reeling Texas last season in Provo, 41-20. This year, under a new regime, Hook ‘Em Horns will eek out a bit of revenge.
Michigan State @ Oregon. This is one zesty early season tussle with your proverbial “playoff ramifications.”1 Currently the Ducks are inside that candy store, a berth in the playdown assured if they take care of biz. Sparty has its face to the window, Molotov Cocktail in hand, ready to prove its worthy. I love the Spartans. It goes back to my youth, and Biggie Munn and Clarence Peaks. The resurgence of the Green under Mark Dantonio has been quiet in these Paul Finebaum All SEC All The Time days. Alas, Michigan State is ofer Eugene, though the last visit was in ’98. Quack 48, Sparty 14. Truth be told, the mid-westerners regular season visits to the left coast haven’t been too successful, no matter whom they play. Phil Knight U. is ready to proclaim, “Yes, we’re as good this season as we’re supposed to be.” Saturday they back it up.
Western Kentucky @ Illinois. Just because you haven’t seen Tim Beckman’s name on the Dead Man Walking lists doesn’t mean the Fighting Illini coach’s job isn’t in peril. It means nobody really cares except for the 372 diehards in the Land o’ Lincoln. The school hasn’t been a consistent national playah since Bob Zuppke roamed the sidelines, Red Grange galloped between the sidelines and the Big Ten was still the Western Conference. When you turn over the reigns to Ron Zook, whose tenure ended in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, bad karma ensues. Which makes this a big game for Beckman. So too for WKU mentor Jeff Brohm, who spent a year in Champaigne-Urbana coaching QBs under Zook. And thought himself a likely successor. The school thought otherwise. Silly them. The Hilltoppers are deservedly one of the nation’s Flavors of the Week. Brad Doughty and Company shall prove worthy. The Illini muckety mucks will be heard muttering, “We shoulda hired that Brohm guy, instead of the schlepper we got.”
Ohio @ Kentucky. This is where I feel compelled to remind all that every season about this time, a school from one of the power conferences loses to a school from the MAC. The Bobcats lost a number of stars from last year’s mediocre 7-6 squad, which ended the year with an L in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl. But it’s a new season, and Frank Solich’s team is 1-0, after an opening weekend league W at Kent State. That 17-14 victory is, frankly, more impressive than UK’s over Tennessee-Martin. But please don’t tell the BBN. Ohio is 2-13 against SEC schools. Both Ws however were defeats for — all together now — Kentucky. That one, a decade ago. This is truly a put up or shut up game for Mark Stoops in Year II. The Cats prove they are indeed better than they’ve been.
Murray State @ Louisville. This is a tough one. Oh, not because the outcome of the ball game is in any doubt. U of L shall romp. Reggie Bonnafon will get PT. So too running backs not named Dominique Brown. Some youngsters will get snaps on the OL. Etc, etc. What’s tough is that kickoff is set for 7:00 pm. Which means traveling to Papa J’s, hangin’ with my homies in the tailgate lot, and the game, conflict with the battle I really want to see. Which would be Oregon vs. Michigan State. Does my loyalty to my alma mater prevail2 over reasonably rational thinking that says stay home, catch the Quack and Sparty, with some look ins at Hokies vs. Buckeyes, while my computer is tuned into U of L vs. Racers?
— Seedy K