The 2016 season began with what some analysts called the best ever, then week two slipped to almost boring status……but fear not fans, this weekend returns to top notch status, full of contests that rival being called the greatest. Once again I plunge into the ridiculous art of college football predictions:
#1 Alabama at #18 Ole Miss – When Mississippi won this game in Oxford two years ago it was considered a mild upset, but when the Rebels whipped Alabama in Tuscaloosa last year, it was a shocking upset. To think Mississippi could make it 3 in a row over the Tide is, well, unthinkable. Ole Miss is more than capable of pulling another upset, and it won’t be an easy game for Alabama that’s for sure, but if Mississippi is going to win, Chad Kelly will have to play the game of his life. I think the Crimson Tide defense may have him scrambling for his life……which may not be such a bad thing if he can turn it into some positive running yards. But in the end, I just feel Bama will prevail. Alabama 31 Ole Miss 27.
#3 Florida State at #29 Louisville– In my pre-season projections for the ACC I commented on the importance of this game in the ACC title race. As it turns out, it’s even more than that. The way Louisville’s offense is rolling if the Cardinal’s can outscore the Seminoles they may just find themselves in the midst of a national title race. This is not a good time for Florida State’s defense to be banged up. Stakes are high and I think Louisville is up for the challenge. Louisville 38 Florida State 31.
#4 Houston at #61 Cincinnati– The Cougars have proven they are a good team by virtue of their win over Oklahoma two weeks ago but I hope they have returned to earth because this game has upset written all over it. Good thing Houston played Lamar last weekend instead of going straight on the road to Cincinnati. The Bearcats looked sluggish in their opener against Tennessee Martin, but looked much better beating the Big Ten’s Purdue on hostile ground in West Lafayette. This is a hard game to pick. It’s a Thursday night game and there is no way to know how focused and prepared the Cougars will be…..but I guarantee you, Cincinnati will be both. If Houston wins handily, I’ll be as impressed as their win over the Sooners….well, almost. I’ll play it safe here, but I’m not going to be surprised if Cincinnati wins. Houston 35 Cincinnati 28.
#14 Michigan State at #30 Notre Dame – The Irish bounced back well at home with a win over Nevada after that stunning loss to Texas in Austin. Michigan State had the week off. Beware, the Spartans had an extra week to prepare and I’m betting they took full advantage of it. It’s hard to beat Notre Dame in South Bend. Touchdown Jesus casts a long shadow. But these teams have a long, long history (Notre Dame leads 48-28-1) and Michigan State has had some success winning in South Bend, it just seems to bring out the best in the Spartans. Maybe they are still smarting over the 10-10 tie in 1966. Notre Dame is favored by 7 and that kind of took me by surprise. Seems like a lot of points. I’m so, so tempted to take Michigan State here, but I’m just too much of a scardy cat. Notre Dame 24 Michigan State 23.
#26 Texas at #53 California– Speaking of teams who better have returned to earth….here is another one. The Longhorns could easily blow this one to the Bears. Cal had a heartbreaking loss on the road to up and coming San Diego State last week and they are hungry for a win. If Texas loses, expect the Horns fans to put Charlie Strong right back on the hot seat again. Fans are so fickle. Texas 31 California 24.
#31 UCLA at #42 Brigham Young – Both of these teams need a win bad. The Bruins blew it in College Station two weeks ago and the Cougars are coming off a truly heartbreaking loss to arch rival Utah. Brigham young is trying to survive the most difficult schedule in college football. Hosting UCLA is an advantage but at this stage it’s still like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. A loss here could be a slippery slope for the Cougars. BYU plays well at home, but I think the Bruins may prove to be just too much on offense. UCLA 42 Brigham Young 28.
#24 Texas A&M at #27 Auburn – Have the Aggies turned things around? This is the game that will answer that question for sure. Auburn took Clemson to the wire the same day Texas A&M surprised UCLA. Both teams had super easy wins over cream puffs last week. Wow…..I could go either way here. Just flip a coin. I’ll take War Eagle at home. Auburn 27 Texas A&M 24.
#32 Oregon at #43 Nebraska – This game is unbelievably huge for both teams. Nebraska fans are weary of settling for average teams. The program has slipped into mediocrity. If Nebraska is EVER going to return to greatness, it absolutely begins here. For Oregon, a win would go a long way towards gaining momentum for the upcoming Pac 12 title run and a return to national prominence. Both teams have been impressive in their first two wins. This is another coin flip folks, but I have a gut feeling the Ducks will prevail on the road. Husker fans may suffer the fate of another mediocre year. Oregon 42 Nebraska 31.
#5 Ohio State at #12 Oklahoma – The are many games that I remember as special throughout my 50+ years as a college football fan, but few surpass the 1977 Buckeye/Sooner game in Columbus when Oklahoma’s Uwe von Schamann led the Ohio State fan’s in a chant of “block that kick” then calmly proceeded to knock a 41 yard field goal dead through the center of the uprights with 3 seconds left to give Oklahoma a 29-28 win in the very first game played between these two storied programs. Woody Hayes was one of my personal heroes because he was so passionate about winning. Trust me…..he was not a happy camper that day. I’ll be honest….I don’t even want to make a prediction in this game, but how can I ignore one of the biggest games of the season? This is do or die for both teams in the race for a playoff spot. Contrary to popular belief the Sooners are not truly out of it yet. If Oklahoma wins, and goes 11-1, and Ohio State wins the Big 10, the Sooners still have a shot. Both teams are loaded with talent. Both have great coaches, both have great QB’s, both have great leadership on the team. The game is in Norman, but I truly believe Ohio State is a slightly better team. Is it OK with everyone if I just side step this game? No, you want to put me on the record huh? What the hell…… Oklahoma 29 Ohio State 28. Does that score sound familiar?
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