Count me among the many members of the punditocracy who have misunderestimated the Central Florida Knights. A/K/A in some circles as the UCF Knights.
Yeah, sure, they’ve won oh so many in a row, on a collision course with a second undefeated campaign in a row. But, you know, whom have they beaten?
OK, #7 Auburn last year in the Peach Bowl, but really, any other foe of substance?
Other than sneaky good Temple and ACC Coastal leading Pitt?
Well, yes, Cincy in Saturday Night Prime Time.
Which caught me by surprise, and resulted in my only prognosticatory miscue last weekend, because Notre Dame slaughtered Syracuse as I predicted, Kentucky survived Middle Tennessee, NC State had no problems with the Cardinals, and previously 2-8 UCLA upended Southern Cal, A/K/A USC.
Central was quick to the ball, hit hard and remains innovative on O. If only there were an eight team playoff, so they could get a chance to defend the Knights national championship for real.
Anyway, I was 4-1 for last weekend, improving my season mark to 37-23, heading into rivalry weekend, where there are a lot more questions to be answered than whether Urban Meyer’s heath and well being can survive the tension of a Wolverine visit to the Horseshoe?
Here are some of the answers in advance:
Washington @ Washington State. Do you care whether I eat a honeycrisp apple and natural crunchy peanut butter every morning for breakfast? Of course not. But I mention it since there has been an incredible crop of organic honeycrisps grown in Washington this year, and this annual rivalry is known as the Apple Cup. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Which game has been captured by UDub five times in a row and 8 of the last 9. But that was before the Mustache arrived in Pullman. Former East Carolina second stringer Gardner Minshew has energized the Cougars and their adoring fans since he answered this siren call from Mike Leach and decided against being a sub in Tuscaloosa: “Do you want to be a backup quarterback or lead the nation in passing?” They had 55 in the first half last week against Arizona. The Huskies have slipped up thrice, but have proven through recent seasons to have their arch rival measured. Wash State’s only blemish came inexplicably against the fading Trojans. I looooooove the Cougars, and they shall prevail.
Michigan @ Ohio State. It goes without saying that the citizens of these neighboring states take this annual battle seriously. Even when there is nothing more than a trip to Pasadena and the Tournament of Roses on the line. Ohio State will not make it to the CFP even if they prevail and then best Northwestern next week. A twenty nine point meltdown in East Lafayette is a gift that keeps on giving. But it would provide some succor to the Buckeye faithful who have been fretting about one thing or another all season. Coach Khaki, curmudgeon that he is, is also proving again that he’s a pretty fair college football coach. After that narrow opening setback in South Bend, the Wolverines have been taking care of biz. In style. Winning in Columbus as a visiting favorite is NEVER an easy task. Nor will it be comforting to O-H-I-O fans to exit the stadium to the strains of “Hail to the Victors.”
Oklahoma @ West Virginia. The Mountaineers have not conquered the Sooners since they joined the Big 12. Six games, six losses. The last three haven’t even been competitive. There’s a lot on the line this time around, though the Mountaineers L in Stillwater ruined their chances for the CFP. A league title is still possible. While the Sooners have visions of a Final Four berth, which might be Ws over WV and Texas away. (Assuming some others fall.) Boomer Sooner doesn’t play much D. But that doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore. (Did you see the Rams/ Chiefs classic?) This donnybrook could be higher scoring than their upcoming tilts on the hardwood. Take the over. Take the home team.
Central Florida @ South Florida. There was a time early this season, when the Bulls were Flavor of the Month in the Group of 5. Then came their recent skid, during which they’ve fallen to Houston by 21, Tulane by 26, Cincy by 12 and Temple by 10. Not so Strong there, Charlie. Meanwhile, Central has been, oh you know, vanquishing all comers. Including shining on Game Day and Prime Time in front of their apoplectic fans. This shall be another one of the au courant high scoring affairs. The schools combined for 1200 yards in last season’s conference title battle. Which is to say, despite the Knights winning skein, this affair has been pretty even through the last few seasons. It’s a Make The Season Right game for South Florida. That always means something. But I learned my lesson last weekend with the Knights. They’re good. And this weekend they shall add another scalp on their totem pole of whatever.
Kentucky @ Louisville. Can it get any worse for Cardinal fans? U of L is having its most embarrassing season, well, ever. Arch rival has come back to its norm a bit in recent weeks, but is still improving year by year under Mark Stoops. The game is in Louisville, where there will most likely be more blue in the seats than red. Sigh. There was a time, even after the Cards showed distinct signs of spitting out the bit, that I believed U of L could salvage some pride this season with a win in this rivalry game. Like the Wildcats did season before last against Lamar and the #11 Cardinals as a 27 point dog. Kentucky is only a 17 1/2 point favorite (as I write). Could it be? Might it happen? Rhetorical queries. Can the Cardinals who have frankly displayed little if any heart summon up some grit, determination and enough TDs to prevail Saturday? Oh, how this hurts, but I cannot find it possible to conceive the answer is anything but no. The good news for U of L faithful. Come midnight Saturday, this nightmare will be over.
-- Seedy K