Are Charlie and Rich Rod getting fired? Can Ohio State go into the Rose Bowl on a high note? Who's going to emerge from the Pac-10? Lots of questions that may get answered this weekend on a college football Saturday that may be the most exciting week we've seen in at least seven days.
(10) Ohio State -12 at Michigan
After receiving a fair bit of “Why don’t you respect the Big Ten?” mail this week, I decided to give the conference’s most highly publicized rivalry game the number one slot. What can I say? My father always told me that there’s two things in life you take seriously: bible salesman and violent death threats from people living in Des Moines – “both of them will straight up stab you if you’re not careful,” he’d always say while cowering in the corner every time someone wearing a Jim Tressel sweater vest came to the door asking if Jesus had blessed the television we won betting against Bob Stoops. The Big Ten doesn’t mess around, and this week is no exception. Ohio State has already secured a spot in the Rose Bowl thanks to a victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes last week and will try to put a cherry on top of their conference championship sundae by embarrassing their rivals on national television (a futile plan considering Michigan has built up an immunity to humiliation this season). Buckeyes’ quarterback Terrelle Pryor seems to have shaken off the early season rust and is now looking more like the collegiate Vince Young than the professional, Prozac-laden version. If he and his talented defense bring their “A” game to Ann Arbor, this could spell the end of the Rich Rodriguez experiment at Michigan and set the Wolverines’ program back another ten years. If you hate Michigan, love Ohio State or just enjoy seeing a starting quarterback whose name may or may not rhyme with “Hate Lorcier” threaten to transfer after every series, this game is for you!
Prediction: The last thing Jim Tressel needs is another BCS embarrassment. He wants to come in to the Rose Bowl on a hot streak and will press his players to dominate. Ohio State 41, Michigan 17
(11) Oregon - 6 at Arizona
Ohio State and the 74,000 fans who follow them around the country like a functional stoner on a Phish world tour already have their Rose Bowl tickets reserved, but who they end up playing may largely be determined by this game. If the Ducks can pull out a victory over the extremely talented Wildcats, their pseudo-Cinderella season will move one step closer to getting the glass slipper it so richly deserves (now all they have to do is pick out which one of their 713 hideous jerseys to wear to the ball). Jeremiah Masoli has become one of the most electric players in the country, while running back LaMichael James has a certain Noel Devine quality to his game. This one is going to be close, and if Arizona can pull the mild upset, the final week of the Pac-10 season will be pure chaos with up to four teams having a shot at the Rose Bowl in their final game.
Prediction: Oregon’s defense clearly has a lot of problems as evident by their 55 point meltdown against Stanford. Mike Stoops is a good enough coach to find the weaknesses and keep things competitive. Oregon 31, Arizona 28
(25) California +8 at (17) Stanford
Not since “the band came on the field” has this rivalry generated so much buzz. The Cardinals' recent offensive showings (55 points in their last two games against Oregon and USC) has been nothing short of mesmerizing, while Toby Gerhart - who looks more like a backup lineman than Heisman Trophy running back - has become the single best player in college football. Cal has dominated this rivalry in recent years, but playing in Palo Alto in 2009, this could be the year that the really nerdy school in Northern California defeats the slightly less nerdy school in Northern California. Needless to say, a lot of engineers will be watching this one.
Prediction: Cal is reeling right now and Stanford has put up 55 points in two straight games against the USC and Oregon's defenses. Stanford 41, California 20
(8) LSU +4 at Mississippi
Don’t be fooled by the Rich Rodriguez-style nosedive Mississippi has taken this year. This is still a very dangerous team with the ability to beat anyone in the country. It just so happens that they have the propensity to lose to everybody in the country as well. At 7-3 the Rebels can still make a push for a major bowl game, but will need to get by a talented Tiger team that shellacked Louisiana Tech by an entire field goal last Saturday. Both of these teams feature levels of speed unseen in most conferences and will be battling back and forth in what should be an amazing battle.
Prediction: LSU has too many athletic playmakers for Mississippi to contend with. LSU 20, Mississippi 17
Maryland +18 at Florida State
Say what you will about promoting a game between two teams that boast a 7-13 record, various injured starters, and a commitment to mediocrity that Microsoft employees would find admirable, but this one could be Bobby Bowden’s last game coaching in Tallahassee after pretty much everybody under the age of 87 has lost faith in his ability to run a top-notch program. Over his career Bowden has amassed more wins than every college football coach not named Joe Paterno and will go down in history as one of the greatest minds the sport has ever seen. Pay homage, pay respect, and get what could be a final glimpse at one of the last living legends in NCAA football.
Prediction: Bobby always knew how to run up a score. FSU 31, Maryland 10
Other Advice I absolutely think you should bet your mortgages on:
Iowa -10 over Minnesota
Oklahoma -6 over Texas Tech
Penn State -3 at Michigan State
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