Key Labor Day Weekend Game Predictions: Alabama-USC, OU-Houston, Ole Miss-Florida State, UCLA Texas A&M, LSU-Wisconsin
Here it is folks, the debut of the Pigskin Prognosticator for 2016, one of the most popular features of the PubClub.com Sports section!
As many of you know, this is a true, real look at the teams and key games of the week, an “inside the helmets” viewpoint of what is likely to happen based on teams’ traditions for performing (or lack thereof) in key situations.
The style is based on a pre-game radio show I used to listen to as a kid, Leonard’s Losers, in which Leonard Postosties would use humorous synonyms for team nicknames and other funny lines to pick the losers. Except I pick the winners.
All times PST.
Saturday, Sept. 3
This is a HUGE day for big college football games. And here’s what will happen in the biggest games of the day.
OKLAHOMA vs. HOUSTON (9 a.m., ABC, at NRG Stadium in Houston)
The Boomers come storming into Texas not to face the Longhorns but a group of feisty Cougars who have their sites set on an outside shot at making the College Football Playoffs. Already, with the very first kickoff of the weekend, there could be a playoff elimination game. The problem with the boys from Oklahoma is that whenever they start the season in the Top 5, they stumble like freshmen coming out of a fraternity house during Rush Week.
The Pumas will come out scratching and the Sooners won’t escape without scars, but they should take this one. They will trip over their charging schooner later in the year. Winner: Oklahoma.
LIBERTY AT VIRGINIA TECH (9:30 a.m., ESPN3)
The Prognosticator is putting this game in here because there are several Hokie fans on the Party Report list, but I am at “Liberty” to say it won’t be much of a game. Wait until the Gobblers play Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway next Saturday. Winner: Virginia Tech
RUTGERS at WASHINGTON (11 a.m., Pac-12 Network)
Hey Huskie fans, your dogs appear to have some bite to them this year. Third-year coach Chris Petersen has the Wolves hunting and hungry, and they just might be ready to chew up the Pac-12. But first things first, although U-dub fans should be howling by halftime because the Scarlet Knights gave up points last year the way dog devours table scraps. Winner: Washington
UCLA at TEXAS A&M (12:30 p.m., CBS)
The Trampolines bounce into College Station with a Jacuzzi-friendly Sports Illustrated cover boy quarterback, a new pro-style offense and talk of a conference championship. The Cadets, meanwhile, can’t seem to march in a straight line; they managed to chase off three quarterbacks last season and a coach was suspended for offensive comments about women to a women’s audience.
Once again, the media is fawning all over the Aggies and their coach, forgetting the only reason they both won a few years ago is now partying it up somewhere in Vegas or passed out on an Airbnb couch in L.A. As long-time Bruin fans know, UCLA always gets up for the big out-of-conference road games. Then it loses to some near-patsy a week or two later (a likely opponent is BYU on Sept. 17).
Neither of these teams can stop the run but the Baby Bears have JJ (Jacuzzi Josh) and that’s a huge advantage over the Oklahoma transfer taking snaps for the 12 Men. Winner: UCLA
LSU vs. WISCONSIN (12:30 p.m., ABC, at Lambeau Field)
If the Bengal Tigers ever get a quarterback, the rest of college football just might as well just stand on the sidelines and watch. But finding that QB seems as elusive as getting the attention of a bartender at the end of Happy Hour, so the felines survive on a steady feast of handing the football to a beast of a running back and an athletic defense that continually feeds NFL teams.
The Badgers must face their former DC and are hoping to be scrappy enough – like a true Badger – to keep the game close and still be pestering the Tigers at the end. But by that time, they will have seen enough of Leonard Fournette to have their fans wishing they were getting “The Boot” back on State Street. Winner: LSU.
ALABAMA vs. USC (5 p.m., ABC, at Jerry’s World, Dallas)
Troy comes into this game maybe not looking so much for a Conquest but some sign that they might be back on track to being among college football’s elite. They will certainly get the answer right away against the Tusks from Tuscaloosa.
The Trojans have the horses at receiver, running back and on the offensive line but the Tide’s defense is a sea of Crimson carnivores that feeds on anything that moves – especially quarterbacks making their first college start. Alabama comes into the game new “up the middle” – at center, quarterback and tailback. The latter is not to worry, for the top four replacements for the departed Heisman Trophy winner are all five-star recruits. The starting quarterback is a somewhat steady but unspectacular four-star recruit who will eventually give way to a golden-armed, golden boy California product, who is dating a gorgeous pro surfer. So obviously, he’s a good decision maker.
The center, tho, could be a question mark in this first game.
The Prognosticator expects the Trojans to put up a good fight until depth and big plays make the difference. Here’s one thing for Trojan fans to keep in mind: Alabama won more games in Texas Stadium last year than the Dallas Cowboys. Winner: Alabama
CLEMSON at AUBURN (6 p.m., ESPN)
In this tale of the two Tigers, one could grab a Tiger by the tail while the other runs tail. Clemson is coming off a near dream season and if its quarterback plays half as good in this first game as he did in his last one, then he’ll be sending the hosts running back to Toomer’s Corner with their tails between their legs.
The Auburn people were smug last year when they started the season ranked #6 and are even more thrilled this year to be unranked. That’s because Auburn is traditionally better when its hiding in the bushes, ready to spring up and surprise people, than it is standing tall out in the open.
That won’t matter this year, tho, and certainly not in this game because the visiting Tigers are going to be leaving big paw prints all over their hosts. Winner: Clemson
ARIZONA vs. BYU (7:30 p.m., FS1, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale)
The Zonies has better watch their whiskers in this one because there’s going to a lot of fur flying when the pesky Cougars come to attack these Wildcats. When its done, both teams are going to be licking their wounds. Winner: In a close one that will cap off a great day of college football, Arizona.
Sunday, Sept. 4
NOTRE DAME at TEXAS (4:30 p.m., ABC)
The Irish are really smokin’ this year and they haven’t even played a game yet. Apparently, half a dozen players assumed that medicinal marijuana was acceptable post-practice treatment at the Golden Dome only to find out otherwise. They were doing their huffing and puffing off the field and are now off the team. Notre Dame used to get its game plans from the Vatican but it won’t need divine intervention in this one because pool ‘ol Bevo just doesn’t have enough meat on the bones. Especially at quarterback. Winner: Notre Dame
Monday, Sept. 5
OLE MISS vs. FLORIDA STATE (5 p.m., ESPN, Florida Citrus Orange Bowl, Orlando)
Colonel Rebel takes his troops down to the Sunshine State but the Hottie Toddies face a tribe of warriors who are as potent as a well-made drink at the Grove. The Spearmen are sharpening their bows and arrows in anticipation of a performance in the playoffs and they don’t want to be run off the range by a bunch of Land Sharks from Mississippi.
Ole Miss has the potential to be the Ole Miss of late – win a big game, zoom to the top of the rankings, then become as unsteady as a tailgater on his fifth cocktail – but they are going to get speared at the start by the super-talented Seminoles. Winner: Florida State