Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Surprising Week in College Football

I must confess to feeling torn by the outcomes of last week's games.

On the one hand, I was disappointed by Arkansas' three–touchdown loss to Texas A&M — but after the Hogs lost the previous four to the Aggies, I can't say I was surprised.

I was surprised, though, by Tennessee's stunning come–from–behind victory over Florida as well as Ole Miss' rout of Georgia.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was LSU's decision to fire Les Miles following the Tigers' loss to Auburn. I know Auburn isn't regarded as a contender this year, but Auburn is not far removed from national championship seasons. Losing to Auburn is not a disgrace.

But it cost Miles his job. Now I'm not one of Miles' fans, but I'm not on board with that decision.

  • Connecticut at #6 Houston, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: When these schools met for the first time last season, Houston barely got by, winning by three at home.

    I expect the Cougars to win by a lot more this time. I pick Houston.
  • #7 Stanford at #10 Washington, 8 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: These schools are old familiar foes. They've played 85 times and Washington holds a one–game edge in the series.

    But Stanford has won seven of the last eight meetings — and four of the last five confrontations on Washington's field.

    Washington is a team of the Pac–12's future. Stanford is the team of its present. I pick Stanford.
  • Kentucky at #1 Alabama, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Kentucky has only beaten Alabama twice — ever — and neither came at Alabama.

    That's good enough for me. Alabama should prevail.
  • Rutgers at #2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes have buried Rutgers the last two seasons.

    I expect no less this time. Ohio State will prevail.
  • #3 Louisville at #5 Clemson, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC: Without question, this is the marquee game of the week.

    They have played each other the last two seasons, and Clemson won both times — narrowly. The winner will undoubtedly be favored to participate in the national championship playoff.

    I'm not sure that picking either team would be an upset, but Clemson is probably a slight favorite simply being at home.

    But Louisville is a legitimate contender, and I will pick Louisville to win.
  • #8 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC: Michigan leads this series, but Wisconsin has won the last two meetings and is 4–2 against the Wolverines in the last six contests.

    But wins in the Big House are rare for the Badgers. I pick Michigan.
  • #9 Texas A&M at South Carolina, 3 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: The Aggies are 2–0 against South Carolina, and they bring a Top 10 ranking into the contest.

    More than that, though, I think the Aggies are legitimate contenders in the SEC. South Carolina is not. I pick Texas A&M.
  • #11 Tennessee at #25 Georgia: The winner of this game will take the lead in the series.

    And, until last year, one would have given Georgia the advantage, having won the previous five in a row. But Tennessee will now try to do something it hasn't done in 10 years — win at Georgia.

    Can the Vols do it? I kinda think they can. I pick Tennessee.
  • North Carolina at #12 Florida State, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: North Carolina has only beaten Florida State twice in 18 meetings — but one of those wins came last season.

    Can lightning strike twice? I don't really think so. I choose Florida State.
  • #13 Baylor at Iowa State, 11 a.m. (Central) on FS1: Baylor has won six of the last eight meetings with Iowa State and should have no trouble winning this time. I take Baylor.
  • #14 Miami (Fla.) at Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN2: Miami has won six of the last seven against Tech — but the sole exception came at Georgia Tech two years ago.

    Strange things sometimes happen in the ACC, and I'm thinking strange things might happen in this game. I take Georgia Tech in an upset special.
  • Illinois at #15 Nebraska, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: It was almost a year ago that the virtually unthinkable happened — Illinois beat Nebraska for the first time since 1924.

    That 1924 game also happens to be the last time Illinois beat Nebraska on the road. Will it happen again? I don't really think so. I pick Nebraska.
  • Memphis at #16 Ole Miss: Ole Miss has a good football team. Memphis doesn't. It is just that simple.

    Ole Miss will win.
  • #17 Michigan State at Indiana, 7 p.m. (Central) on Big Ten Network: If this was a basketball game, I would give Indiana more of a chance of winning.

    But Michigan State has won 16 of its last 18 football games against Indiana, and I see no reason to expect otherwise this time. I choose Michigan State.
  • #18 Utah at California, 5 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12 Network: The series is tied, but the recent momentum has been with Utah.

    Cal can be tough at home, but I pick Utah to win.
  • #19 San Diego State at South Alabama, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPNews: These teams met for the first time last season, and San Diego State won by a touchdown.

    I think the margin will be wider this time. I pick San Diego State.
  • Alcorn State at #20 Arkansas, 11 a.m. (Central) on SEC Network: With Alabama waiting just up the road, I don't expect Arkansas to let down in this one even though the Razorbacks are bound to be disappointed following last week's loss.

    Arkansas should prevail.
  • Oklahoma at #21 TCU, 4 p.m. (Central) on Fox: As a youngster, I never would have expected TCU to be ranked and Oklahoma to not be ranked in October. Nevertheless ...

    Based on the rankings, this would be an upset so I will make it an upset special. Oklahoma will win.
  • #22 Texas at Oklahoma State, 11 a.m. (Central) on ABC: Texas has won 80% of its meetings with OSU, but the Cowboys have had the upper hand of late, winning four of the last six, but those two losses came at Stillwater.

    Still, Texas has not been as impressive as expected after beating Notre Dame on Labor Day weekend.

    I take Oklahoma State.
  • #23 Florida at Vanderbilt, 11 a.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Florida hasn't lost at Vanderbilt. In fact, Vandy has only beaten Florida once since then, going 1‐24.

    I see no other outcome. Florida will win.
  • Utah State at #24 Boise State, 9:15 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: Utah State snapped a 12–game losing streak against Boise State last week.

    Can Utah State make it two in a row? I doubt it. I pick Boise State.
Last week: 11–5

Overall: 62–19

Last week's upset specials: 1–1

Overall upset specials: 2–6

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