There was a bit of regression last week.
Unfortunately, it is to be expected as the season sorts itself out. Besides, I can’t anticipate that I’ll pick ’em all correctly every week like Week II.
Plus, when it’s Notre Dame that loses on the gridiron, one can’t be all that sad. Especially when it’s ever underrated Sparty that spoils the party in South Bend. I have only myself to blame on the other miscalculation. Should have realized this year it is Bummer Sooner in Norman, that Bob Stoops is looking more and more like his brother Mark on the sidelines, which is to say doobish. (“Doob,” as explained to me by a UK fan who used it in a recent conversation describing his team’s coach, translates as “big dumb bear.”)
But the Cats held on and prevailed over New Mexico State. Alabama did what the Tide does, and prevented Ole Miss from becoming the first school to beat lovable Nick Saban thrice in a row. And the Louisville Cardinals squeaked by Florida State, in case you’ve been asleep.
Three up. Two down. 10-5 on the season.
This week’s picks:
Stanford @ UCLA. I’m just not sure I really understand the success of the Silicon Valley Cardinal (Hold the “s”) during the David Shaw regime. 11-2, Fiesta Bowl. 12-2, Rose Bowl. 11-3, Rose Bowl. 8-5, with a season ending W against the Bruins and a W in a lesser bowl against Maryland. 12-2, and smackdown of Iowa in the Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Given the school’s lofty academic rep, its pigskinners might actually be student/athletes. Or, the situation could the be height of duplicity. Plus the team features a legit Heisman candidate (the preseason favorite), Christian McCaffrey, who is Caucasian. (Which ironically may have actually worked against him last season.)Two workmanlike old school Ws over K State and reeling Southern Cal have them back in the Final Four conversation. Though the road is tough, starting with this week’s encounter at the Bruins. They must travel to UDub. And Notre Dame. And Oregon. And Cal. And Arizona. The Bruins opening week loss on the road to A&M isn’t looking so bad in retrospect. The Aggies are real. Steady Ws over BYU and UNLV have them prepped for this prime time encounter. Shaw’s undefeated against the Bruins since he got the job in Palo Alto. UCLA should be ready to turn the tables. Will they? No. Mora’s teams never turn out quite as good as expected. The Tree frolics.
Central Michigan @ Virginia. If there’s one early season inevitable, the pigskin equivalent of that flower that shows up every year in the garden, it’s a W — or Ws — by a MAC school against a Power 5 foe(s), usually from the Big 10. This year’s harvest includes wins over both Northwestern and Illinois by Western Michigan, giving it the championship of the Land of Lincoln. And Ohio’s victory over Kansas. I know the Jayhawks suck, but a stat is a fact. Then there’s that controversial but scintillating Central Michigan victory at Okie State. Well, the undefeated Chippewas visit Charlottesville this weekend to take on the woeful and winless Cavaliers. Where they’ll take the field as a 3 1/2 point favorite. The beginning of the Bronco Mendenhall era at UVa has been somewhat less than auspicious, with Ls to the Quack, the Spiders and the Huskies. The Cavaliers shall attempt to keep those iconic hats on as long as possible, but to invoke the politically incorrect, the scalping shall come. Central.
Vanderbilt @ Western Kentucky. You can say what you want about Vandy’s lack of success in the athletic venues. Unlike Tulane, which decided in the mid 50s, that life outside the SEC would be an upgrade, the school on West End Ave. in NashVegas stayed the course, and its coffers are all the fuller for it. Coach Derek Mason hoped to break on through for a winning campaign this year, which would be his first. But they stand 1-2, and head north a few miles as 7 1/2 point underdogs to play Jeff Brohm’s ascending Hilltoppers in Bowling Green. WKU gave the Crimson Tide a good enough game that Nick Saban was frothing at the mouth as the clock wound down. The Toppers have blistered Rice and Miami (Oh). One must suppose they’ll be primed for their SEC visitor. Towels shall wave. Western Kentucky prevails.
South Carolina @ Kentucky. If I weren’t so accepting of the reality that I am slipping quickly into my dotage, I’d be more embarrassed than I am that my original post had UK traveling to Tuscaloosa this weekend, instead of hosting the Gamecocks. More than slightly redfaced, I thank serial reader Wildcat Willie for informing me of my egregious miscue. Which I’ve been able to correct before most of you got here. Perhaps it was some sort of sick wishful thinking that the Cats were off to slaughter. More than likely it’s that I’m so dazzled by the success of UK’s arch rival that I’m thinking less straight than usual. I dunno. As for the actual battle, the Cats shall enter with their second string signal caller at the helm. Will Muschamp hasn’t proven worthy of a second chance helming an SEC school, but he got it anyway. UK, on a roll, wins its second in a row. While I’m off in search of some miracle elixir that will hold senior moments at bay.
Louisville @ Marshall. Because of recent events, every U of L game is now fraught with peril, given what’s at stake. Which is a legit shot at the Final Four. The Thundering Herd has beaten the Cards four times in a row. Which matters not now, except as a curious fact. What does matter is how Louisville responds to the hooplah surrounding its resounding decimation of the Seminoles, while factoring in a visit to Clemson a week hence. Some letdown and lack of focus is to be expected. Fortunately, for U of L anyway, this Herd squad proved less than, as they were thrashed by Akron last week in Huntington, 65-38. Were they looking ahead? This is one of those games like Syracuse. U of L needs to take care of biz on the road. In a manner which shall satisfy the pollsters. Come out of the battle healthy. The former will come about. The latter is always a crap shoot. Marshall and the Sports Illustrated jinx are defeated.
— Seedy K