Can Michigan & Washington Recover, Plus It’s Rivalry Week For USC-UCLA
Welcome to the Pigskin Prognosticator!
Last week was “tell the truth” Saturday and sometimes the truth hurts. Michigan flat-out felt the pressure – learning that playing on the road in prime time is not always easy – Clemson finally got what had been coming to it a few times this year and U-Dub, well, the Huskies made people believe in them for a while but in the end proved they are not quite ready for prime time.
Meanwhile, two over-ranked pretenders got back to being themselves, leaving the Prognosticator to wonder when the media and – yikes! – even the College Football Playoff committee, will ever figure out that Johnny Manziel is no longer quarterback and Texas A&M and Cam Newton and Nick Marshall are no longer at Auburn, and the coaches of those teams are simply a product of those players’ successes.
It’s funny that during the past month, the Auburn people were talking about beating Bama, winning the SEC and playing for the National Championship, and now they are hiding under their beds. Perhaps they should just get credit for being overly optimistic down on the Plains.
There are not many game-changing games this week but certainly some potentially interesting ones. Heck, every weekend in college football is interesting. All times are in the Prognosticator’s West Coast time zone.
Thursday, Nov. 17
LOUISVILLE at HOUSTON (5 p.m., ESPN)
The Cards could have lost to Duke, should have lost to Virginia and would have lost to Wake Forest had the Deacons fielded a quarterback that could throw the football. So will they fold against the Cougars? The once vaunted wild cats and their hotter-than-a-cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof coach have cooled after two losses in three game and the question is can they catch fire and save the College Football Playoffs from the possibility of Bobby Petrino?
Houston’s one-time Hesiman front-runner QB has a banged-up shoulder while Louisville’s current Hesiman front-runner is picking out suits for his trip to New York. The Prognosticator feels Petrino’s fortune is about to crash as if he were riding a motorcycle in Arkansas. Winner: Houston
Friday, Nov. 18
UNLV at BOISE STATE (6 p.m.,ESPN2)
The Blue Turfs have little to worry about except for the fact UNLV sometimes thinks they are the Runnin’ Rebels of Jerry Tarkanian’s past basketball teams. They won a wild one against Wyoming last week, 69-66 in three overtimes. The boys from Boise will be sure to keep the Rebs to the equivalent of a half-court offense. Winner: Boise State
Saturday, Nov. 19
OHIO STATE at MICHIGAN STATE (9 a.m., ESPN)
After last week, we’re due a big and shocking upset, right? Based on what Sparty has done this year – which is to say nothing – there’s no chance of this happening of course. The lone glimmer of home for the Lug Nuts is that the Tree Nuts have lost once on the road this year, and nearly twice, and have struggled on offense against well-coached defensives. So this may be nuts, but heck, it’s the holiday season, the time for nuts. Winner: Michigan State.
MARYLAND at NEBRASKA (9 a.m, Some ESPN Network)
When a team loses 50-7 to Purdue, maybe it’s time to hang up the cleats. The Big 10 should put in the mercy rule for games involving Maryland and Rutgers. Actually, the Big 10 should have never added those teams to the league in the first place. By halftime, the Shuckers should be looking ahead to their traditional Thanksgiving showdown with hated rival Oklahoma. Oh, right, that once-great game is no longer around, another fumble of Big 10 expansion. Winner: Nebraska
WISCONSIN at PURDUE (9 a.m., ABC)
They are thinking College Football Playoffs in Wisconsin and Purdue will do its part, acting as a matador allowing the bulls from Madison to go right past them with barely a swipe of the cape. Winner: Wisconsin
FLORIDA at LSU (10 a.m., SEC Network)
The Hurricane Matthew Bowl, now in the Red Baton rather than at the Swamp due to the biggest series of indecisions in college football since Oklahoma went to the BCS Championship game instead of Pete Carroll’s USC, is the SEC’s marquee game of the week. And thank goodness, because in what is normally “FCS Week,” it saves us from having to watch Tennessee-Missouri to get our weekly conference fix.
If the Bengal Tigers win this one and then beat Texas A&M on Thanksgiving, then Coach O will likely be named permanent head coach. And Bama fans are sure rooting for good ‘ol Coach O and the Tigers. Winner: LSU
WASHINGTON STATE at COLORADO (12:30 p.m. Fox)
The Buffalos are on a rampage, at least in the eyes of some. The Prognosticator is still rubbing the eyes at the sight of that ugly UCLA game (four turnovers, 12 penalties and 25 penalties between the two teams) but somebody has to be ranked, right? And so they are, at #12.
The same could be said for Washington State, which couldn’t beat Eastern Washington or Boise State, but has walked through the Pac-12 like it’s a field of flowers. The Buffs don’t have the offense to compete with the Leaches, but maybe there’s a little magic happening in Boulder. Winner: Colorado
VIRGINIA TECH at NOTRE DAME (12:30 p.m., NBC)
On the Saturday before Turkey Day, a team once known as the Gobblers goes into Notre Dame Stadium. Many times in the past, this would be like serving the birds up on a platter. But now, it’s the Irish that are fighting for their lives. In fact, if the Domers fall, Brian Kelly will tie Lou Holtz for most losses as Notre Dame’s head coach. Kelley will accomplish this feat in seven seasons, while it took Holtz 11. Winner: Virginia Tech
INDIANA at MICHIGAN (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
The mentally and physically wounded Wolverines return to their den wondering what hit them in Iowa. And they had better be looking forward rather than backward because the Hoosiers have enough of an offensive punch to turn a promising season really offensive for Big Blue.
The Fighting Harbaughs will be without their starting quarterback and while the players are saying it’s no big deal, there’s a sudden lack of confidence in Ann Arbor. The visitors will put up a fight but you’ve got to learn how to win before you can actually win, and that will be the Wolverines’ savior. Winner: Michigan
ARIZONA STATE at WASHINGTON (4:30 p.m., Fox)
The U-Dub’ers have just what they need coming to town, a team so bad that not even a depressed sea dog can lose to it. Arizona State is like a grandma’s secret remedy for when you’re sick – take a dose of it and you’ll feel better in an instant. Winner: Washington
OKLAHOMA at WEST VIRGINIA (5 p.m., ABC)
The Boomers are this year’s version of flies at a picnic – you keep waving them away and they keep coming back to bother you. The Couch Burners need to bring their big swatters to the stadium before they can light it up on the porches after the game. Winner: West Virginia
USC at UCLA (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
There was a time – a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away– that Bruins fans were looking forward to this game. That was of course back in September and now they are hoping to stay outside the Rose Bowl and tailgate the entire time. Trojan fans hate going to the Rose Bowl and the team always plays poorly in the Rose Bowl – except, of course, when it’s the actual Rose Bowl.
Troy has almost forgotten about its horrible start to the season while the Baby Bears are trying to forget about the whole season. Don’t be surprised to see UCLA pass for 450 yards this game – heck, they may throw it 70 times because they can’t run it a lick – but overall they won’t be able to pass this rivalry test. Winner: USC