Seedy K here. They call me the Grande Poobah of Pigskin Predictionarianism.
College is my game, Conjecture is my name.
I hope you’re as ready for another season as I am. I know the players are. I know the coaches are. Except, uh, Tim Beckman, who was scalped by the Fighting Illini hierarchy a week before kickoff. Buh, bye, Timmy.
Forget the heat. Forget the humidity. Forget the seriously anxious fan bases in Crimson Country — the Tide hasn’t rolled all the way in, what, three years now — or Scarlet Territory — the Buckeyes are unanimous pre-kickoff #1. That’s according to scribes, and its a lofty position from which THE OSU has never been the last man standing at the end of the season. Ever.
For my less than well considered take on the entirety of the upcoming campaign, meaning who I think might make the playoff, feel free to click here.
But, you know, you gotta play ’em one at a time, not look ahead, stay in the moment, etc, etc..
So, with that in mind, I hereby share with you five sure fire winners from the season’s opening weekend.
Western Kentucky @ Vanderbilt. Oh, how the not so mighty have fallen. The Commodores, a legit southern power in the days of yesteryear, like 19oughts, had but a single 9 W campaign in over a century of pigskinning. Until James Franklin arrived. Thanks to his firm implementation of the PGSI,1 he doubled that number. Then, before too awfully many more of his ‘Dores were indicted, he headed off to State College, Pa., where his players couldn’t commit any worse felonies than Nittany Lions fans were already used to. Franklin’s replacement Derek Mason would be on the hot seat, if one actually existed on West End Ave. But Vandy’s the only Power 5 school without a separate Athletics Department. Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers are still bleaching out their drawers from a pants-soiling escape in the Bahamas Bowl with zeros on the clock. Jeff Brohm’s got the passingest passer in the game back, Brandon Doughty. And WKU will probably have more folks in the stands than the Commodores, most of whose supporters will likely be at the Ryman to hear Dwight Yoakum. Last towel waving Topper fan down I-65 turn off the lights. The SEC team opened a 17 1/2 point fave in Vegas. The C-USA visitors are now -2. Hmmmm. Smart moolah? Or, stupid opening line? Toppers shall prevail. And they won’t need Vandy to miss a two-point conversion at the end to do it.2
Michigan @ Utah. Oh my, what this first Thursday night of the season shall wrought. In the biggest battle of religious zealots since Pope Urban II (Not to be confused with Pope Urban Buckeye) authorized the first Crusade in 1095 (led by Bo Schembechler’s grandpa, if the history books are to be believed),3 the Second Coming (Wolverine Division) shall lead the Maize and Blue onto the Morman-sanctified turf of Salt Lake City. Joseph Smith meet Jim Harbaugh. Kyle Whittingham will field his best gang of Utes since they entered the Pac 12. Which may not be enough in that high powered conference, but shall be plenty to hold off the resurrection of Hail to the Victors. The Harbaughs don’t get a breather until week #3 against Vegas, as in UNLV.
Texas @ Notre Dame. Stories are that the Fighting Irish faithful don’t especially like Brian Kelly. Because, well, he’s not Frank Leahy. Nor Ara Parseghian. Nor even Lou Holtz. Plus he lost that BCS title game a couple of seasons back by four TDs. And he keeps crabbing about the school’s lofty academic standards, a plaint, it is said, that got Golden Boy Paul Hornung tossed from the Irish radiocasts. And Kelly finished last regular season with four straight Ls. But, other than that, it’s all a new set of rosary beads direct from the Vatican. Speaking of which, even a blessing from the pontiff himself during his upcoming visit probably wouldn’t help. But an opening night W over Hook ‘Em Horns would. Word is that Texas fans are still skeptical about Charlie Strong. Because, well, he’s not Darrell Royal. And his QB Tyrone Swoops is not Vince Young. And the Burnt Orange hasn’t won in South Bend since ’34, its only W with TDJ lookin’ on. Which doesn’t bode well for beleaguered Charlie Strong, and his sure to improve from their losing record Longhorns. I hope I’m wrong, but ND squeaks by. Roll down the echoes.
Louisiana Lafayette @ Kentucky. This is easily the most important game yet for third year UK coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats improved their win total by three last season, including Ws over Vandy and Coach Vizor’s Gamecocks. But the Cats ended the season with six consecutive Ls, including the finale to little brother, who will soon have a bigger stadium.4 Meanwhile the Ragin’ Cajuns have gone 9-4 for four consecutive years with a season-ending W in each in the New Orleans bowl. Mark Hudspeth’s squad is feisty. That swamp down there is eroding away and his fellas don’t like it a bit. The Cats feel they’re ready to bust a move. In a victory far closer than the BBN is expecting, Kentucky will prevail, and hope shall spring eternal.
Louisville vs. Auburn (Atlanta). There’s a moment during The Last Waltz when Ronnie Hawkins, before he sings “Who Do You Love?” with his old back up band, looks offstage to a pal, and yells, “Big time, Bill. Big time. Big time.” Well, Cardinal fans, forget what’s come before for U of L pigskin. This is it. First Saturday of the season. 3:30 kickoff against an SEC power. CBS prime announcers Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson in the booth. Big Time. The Cards played the War Damn Eagles once before, a 3-16 L in ineffectual T.W. Alley’s second and final season, in ’74 at Legion Field in front of a “sparse crowd of 25,000.” Bobby Petrino is not unfamiliar with Auburn, and is undefeated in openers. But I don’t like that there are 11 guys still competing during game week for five starting spots on the OL. I’d feel better about Louisville’s chances if some big uns had stepped up and separated themselves as prime protectors of whoever calls signals. The Cards D will be fine, but is it deep enough to stay fresh against Gus Malzahn’s play a second O? I keep thinking back to how a veteran Cardinal team was blistered last year, 14-37, by Georgia in the Belk. U of L is young, and I’m afraid not quite ready for a prime time. They shall acquit themselves well, but, sigh, I hope I’m wrong, but envision toilet paper on Toomer’s trees Saturday night.
— Seedy K