The World’s Largest Cocktail Party is this weekend, the annual Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, FL, and it has all the makings of a Dawgs day afternoon.
Elsewhere it is Halloween eve, which may cause a few teams to get spooked – anticipating this, Cincinnati let this happen a week earlier against Navy – but for the most part it’s a time for the Big 10 to filter out some of those Top 10 what-are-THEY-doing-here teams so it can get on with having the Ohio State-Michigan game actually matter again.
In Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban is taking a one-day vacation to his lake house while the Tide rests up (or, more appropriately, loads up) for LSU, which inexplicably allowed its in-over-his-head fired coach to remain head coach until after the season.
In stormin’ Norman, the Sooners keep escaping disaster and finally paid for it a bit with a one-spot drop in the polls.
Now onto this week’s games. All times Pacific because the Prognosticator lives on the West Coast.
Cincinnati at Tulane (9 a.m., ESPN2)
Those looking for an upset can pretty much forget it. The team that nearly beat Oklahoma to start the season is now 1-6 and that includes a 52-29 loss to East Carolina. That probably says more about Oklahoma than anything but the Black Cats don’t have to worry about getting spooked on Halloween Eve. Winner: Cincinnati
Michigan at Michigan State (9 a.m., FOX)
The Michigan Staters are quietly undefeated and ranked eighth in the country. They have done is quietly because they haven’t played anybody and no one outside of East Lansing has paid any attention to them. The same goes for the Maize and Blue, with skeptics finding it hard to find any faith in the khaki pants coach. Strange things have happened in this rivalry, with Sparty always being the benefactor. They ought to hold post-season cocktail parties with Auburn to talk about miracle finishes. Still, it’s hard to believe too much in either team. Winner: Michigan
Iowa at Wisconsin (9 a.m., ESPN)
The Flightless Birds travel to Bucky’s place hoping their defense can compensate for a total lack of offense. And while the hosts are putting up points at the pace of a sloth moving through trees, they will be able to squeak by with a narrow W. Winner: Wisconsin
Georgia vs. Florida (12:30 p.m. CBS, Jacksonville, FL)
The sudden re-emergence of the Mullenheads – a talented team that manages to look more at home drinking PBR in a trailer park at times during the season – has the Chomp Chompers making loud agitated grunts just like their mascot at the head coach. The team is is certainly capable of putting any opponent in a death roll but are just as likely to lay out seeking refuge on the banks of the St. John’s River. Of course the Kirby Canines will be having none of that and are likely to ambush the Gators before they know what hit them. Winner: Georgia
Texas Tech at Oklahoma (12:30 p.m., ABC)
In keeping with the Prognosticator’s beer garden empty cups pyramid theory, along with the fact that teams that fire their coach usually unexpectedly win the next game before completely falling apart (latest example, USC), this has all the makings of a total collapse by the Boomers. Winner: Texas Tech
Colorado at Oregon (12:30 p.m,. FOX)
While some teams have a bye week, the Ducks have what basically amounts to a scrimmage. They can waddle their way through this one and still get the stress-free W. Winner: Oregon
Florida State at Clemson (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
This is college football’s bait-and-switch game. You see these two schools facing each other and you have visions of a tense, back-and-forth encounter with a playoff spot on the line. In reality, these teams are not living up to their historic reputations. Dabo is tying to rally the Tigers, saying things like “we’ll get it turned around” and “get us while you can.” Meanwhile the forever-rebuilding Spears are without weapons to cause any damage to any team not named UMass. Winner: Clemson
Ole Miss at Auburn (4 p.m., ESPN)
The Kiffin Crusaders leave the bayou for the south Alabama plains and hope they don’t leave with toilet paper rolled all over them (this is what they do for fun down at the Barn). Despite nearly losing to Georgia State and having a coach who could pull a Nick Rolovich by refusing to get vaccinated, the Cockroaches have done what they do best: rise from the grave like Zombies and terrorize opponents. On Halloween eve, this is their time. Winner: Auburn
Arizona at USC (4 p.m., ESPNU)
If anything is a cure for a loss against a rival, it’s getting to play Arizona. The Zonies haven’t won a game in two years, a self-inflicted wound from the massive mistake of hiring the smug Kevin Sumlin. Troy, too, is smarting for hanging onto the Helton Skelter coach for way too long but it has the horses to run away with this one. Winner: USC
Penn State at Ohio State (4:30 p.m., ABC)
The once-roaring Lions are so offensively challenged that they could score but once from the two-yard-line in seven tries in college football’s bizarre (this is NO way to decide a championship but hey it’s fun in a game like this) new overtime rule. And that was against one of the sports’ worst teams. So the odds of them rolling into the Horseshoe and knocking the Nuts out of the tree are about the same as Urban Meyer passing up a lap dance. It doesn’t help the Nits that James Franklin is beating off questions about going to LSU and USC (tho why either of those would want to hire him is a mystery to the Prognosticator; the guy may be a good recruiter but he’s far from elite with making in-game adjustments and clock management) while Brutus is slapping away all opponents now that Oregon is in its rear-view mirror. Winner: Ohio State
UCLA at Utah (7 p.m., ESPN)
The Trampolines are at their best when they are behind, when everyone else gives up on them. That is when they play loose and is why they are able to bounce back up to so easily after being down. Look for them to spring to life again this week against the struggling Utes. Winner: UCLA