Just as I jump back on the Oregon bandwagon, pull my funky jersey facsimile out of mothballs, dust off my 8x10 of Phil Knight and put fresh incense in the burner of my little homage in the corner, just as I clear the shelves of Whole Foods of the most sublime smoked duck out of respect for the Ducks (and my gustatory obsession), just when I’m pumped that I’ll have an actual rooting interest in the Final Four . . .
. . . the Quack throw in a clunker in the desert, spit out the proverbial bit, fall ingloriously to the Sun Devils. So the kid is SOL.
Because, even more importantly, after correctly predicicating that Michigan, Baylor, Kentucky and Louisville would prevail, placing me thusly on the precipice of my third perfecto weekend of the campaign, I take a baseball bat to the kneecap, my bubble is burst, my train jumps the tracks . . .
. . . oh words fail me.
Bottom line: 4-1 for the weekend. 44-23 for the season.
But, it’s Rivalry Week. Only the Big Ones to weigh in on.
Here come the winners:
New Mexico State @ Liberty. Nothing says Traditional Big Time College Pigskin, no battle is more heralded than the Flames versus the Aggies. For. The. Second. Time. This. Season. Such problems have these two independents had filling out their schedules, they actually play a most unusual home and home. Actually not that unusual. Because these institutions of higher learning did it last year. When they each won at home. The Aggies 2-9 record could be, might be somewhat deceptive. That pair of Ws came in their last two, against UTEP and UIW. The latter being University of Incarnate Word Cardinals. Is there hope for NMS, under the mentorship of Doug Martin, who is 22-62 in his 8th season in Las Cruces. Not really. Coach of Jerry Falwell U. is Hugh Freeze, who knows a thing or two about football, even if he’s as slimy a recruiter as any who ever visited a prep pigskinner’s home. Liberty prevailed by a TD in the first one, and shall do so in the rematch by at least that margin.
Ohio State @ Michigan. If you’re looking for a prop bet, take the over on where there will there be a bigger crowd, the Big House, or Liberty’s Williams Stadium? This humongous battle is, of course, the antithesis of the one in the previous paragraph. This one’s the real deal, the most heated, most hated rivalry in all the sport. Talk to the hand Auburn and Alabama. This year’s edition is especially intriguing. Ohio State’s a juggernaut, on a collision course with the CFP. Coach Khaki has famously never beaten the arch rival Buckeyes. But the Wolverines have looked significantly more powerful in their last four outings. Though against teams not all that great, I’ve a hunch the Wolverines have gained more confidence and resolve from the uptick anyway. Besides, they’re due. Hail to the Victors.
Alabama @ Auburn. Notwithstanding, the offhand dismissal of the standing of this annual bloodbath in the hierarchy of pigskin rivalries, this one’s pretty heated. I mean, Tide superfan Harvey Updyke poisoned the trees at Toomer’s Corner, and bragged about it on the radio. Which reminds us that Paul Finebaum has built an entire career by hosting a talk show where the fans of these schools razz each other 365 days a year. Transcendent Tua’s in a leg brace, wondering if he should have purchased that Lost Value insurance available to superstars? Gus Malzahn is wondering whether it just wouldn’t make life more simple if he slipped back to Arkansas? Perhaps this sniffling and congestion I’ve felt since this morning is the upset bug, but, as in the prediction above, I’m going with the lesser. Get out the toilet paper, kids. Besides, I’m just so weary of Bama in the Final Four, it’s time for a change.
Virginia Tech @ Virginia. Winner here rather ingloriously gets to be served on a platter to Clemson in the ACC title game. The consolation, of course, is a probable spot in the Orange Bowl, much to the chagrin of the guys in blazers running that annual affair in Miami. What we have here is the final regular season game in the career of Bud Foster, the loyal to the core defensive savant that helped seal the reputation of now retired Frank Beamer. Current coach Justin Fuente has been the beneficiary of his DC’s prowess. Especially lately. The Hokies posted shutouts in their last two contests. Though 8-3, UVa just hasn’t done it for me this year. They seem too wobbly or something. Let’s do the Hokey Pokey. “You put your right foot in . . .”
Louisville @ Kentucky. I’m tempted to actually try discussing matchups and the pluses and minuses of these Commonwealth rivals for the Governor’s Cup, eschew yet another mention of how they battle on a dark and bloody ground. Analyze how the Cardinals Achilles heel is the defensive secondary. And how that might not matter, because the Wildcats have no passing game. Extol the virtues of Mark Stoops who built UK up into a team worthwhile, at least through last season. Acknowledge the abundant coaching attributes of Scott Satterfield. But I can’t because it’s impossible to be objective when facing Arch Rival. There’s something magical going on in the Schnelly Football Complex. UK won by 46 last year. It is time for the Big Payback. Smokey, mark it.
-- Seedy K