Half of the 12 Big Ten programs don’t play this weekend, including Indiana. This left me with a total of four college football outcomes to predict, so I had to call in reinforcements.
Where better than the Southeastern Conference, a league where pigskin is king and arrogance runs rampant.
Really, are there three more polarizing coaching figures in the game today than Alabama’s Nick Saban, South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier and LSU’s Les Miles?
Throw in Arkansas newcomer Brett Bielema and the SEC has managed to carve out its own Mount Rushmore of unlikability without the use of explosives or a single jackhammer.
Bielema isn’t quite to their level yet. Wait until he runs the score up on a few teams as he was known to do at Wisconsin — 83-20, IU fans? — and his rep south of the Ohio River will match what it is north of it.
Here are this week’s picks:
Notre Dame 28
Picking against the Irish in South Bend is something I tend to avoid. I get the feeling, though, that Sooners coach Bob Stoops had this one circled about three minutes after his team was embarrassed on their home turf by Notre Dame last season, 30-13.
Northern Illinois 17
This mild upset is based solely on my belief in the Boilers’ new coaching staff. Purdue is two or three seasons from possibly being special. Downing the Huskies, a participant in the most recent Orange Bowl, is one of the building blocks.
Ohio State 27, Wisconsin
Buckeyes are at home (when aren’t they?) and simply too good. Rumor has it OSU officials are presently in Pasadena trying to coax Rose Bowl officials to move the game to Massillon, Canton, Cincinnati or some other neutral location.
Minnesota 31, Iowa 23
Gophers might be the Big Ten’s best-kept secret. Playing an Iowa program no longer on the national radar on its home field bodes well for Minnesota.
Alabama 38, Mississippi 27
Ole Miss is very good, but not quite capable of turning back the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
LSU 19, Georgia 17
This one is in Athens, but it’s the kind of long-awaited SEC showdown Miles always finds a way to win. And Mark Richt always finds a way to lose.
Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 23
Can’t say I’m a huge fan of Johnny Manziel, but I will be in this one. He could throw for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns against Bielema & Co. in Fayetteville and I wouldn’t bat an eye. If Hogs fans begin exiting the stadium at halftime, so much the better.
South Carolina 30, UCF 21
This is one of those sneaky ones. UCF might have sprung the upset at Penn State but isn’t winning at home against the Gamecocks.
Tennessee 36, South Alabama 27
Volunteers are slowly righting the ship under first-year coach Butch Jones. Won’t lose to a Sun Belt Conference program in Knoxville.
Florida 38, Kentucky 21
Gators simply too talented even though the game is under the lights at UK.
Vanderbilt 49, UAB 20
Wait, UAB has a football program? Must go the most-famous-alum route for this one: Sorry, but Jay Cutler trumps Roddy White.
Last week’s record: 10-0.
Season record: 41-5.
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.