One smart aleck reader has already inquired — with an extreme attitude, I feel compelled to note — whether I’ll be picking the games this year, taking into consideration a thing called a “point spread.”
To which, I reiterate: Point spread? I ain’t got no point spread. I don’t need no point spread. I don’t have to show you no stinkin’ point spread.
Now that that’s out of the way, now that the programs at Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, Boise State, Southern Cal, Notre Dame, LSU — okay, enough already, we get the point — have been knocked from their lofty pedestals, turning the off season into some crummy Michael Bay disaster movie, it’s time to light the grill, throw on the brats, tap the keg, paint our faces and get ready for kickoff.
Here are five sure winners for this, the opening weekend of the season.
Oregon vs. LSU @JerryDome. Here’s what I know about LSU. Two position coaches, Ron Cooper & Steve Kragthorpe, were the two worst coaches in U of L history. (And that includes C.V. “Red” Money, who, in his singular season at the helm, 1932, went 0-9. That year, the Cards scored 18 points, while giving up 392.) But the Tigers do have a DL, a head coach with more luck than talent, a lot of fans who will trek to Big D. But their starting QB may have to watch the game from behind bars in the hoosegow. Oregon has speed, great unis, a unique hard-to-prepare-for system, great unis, a chip on its shoulder, and great unis. You think I’d pick against the Quack? Silly, silly you.
Boise State vs. Georgia @ GeorgiaDome. There are always hot seats. Then there’s what’s goin’ on with Bulldog coach Mark Richt. Yes, fans, that is UGA with an electric cattle prod in his mouth following the coach around. Last season Richt’s squad lost its first 3 SEC games, finished at .500 then lost to, gulp, Central Florida, in the Liberty Bowl. Meanwhile the Blue Fielders were one night in Reno away from a second straight BCS battle. The Broncos are 6-1 vs BCS schools in the last five years. So, why am I picking Georgia to win? Frankly, I have no earthly idea.
UCLA @ Houston. Is it my imagination, or has Case Keenum been playing QB for the Cougs since the turn of the century? Well, almost. He’s been granted a sixth year of eligibility, which means that by the time Houston has run the table in the defenseless C-USA, Keenum will be the first collegiate passer to throw for 100,000 yards in a career. If Rick Neuheisel (15-22 at UCLA) doesn’t turn it around in Westwood this season, he’ll have plenty of time to fill out his NCAA brackets in upcoming seasons. The Bruins has loads of returning starters. Their coach has reason to produce in a make it or hit the door season. I like the boyz from Cali to steal one on the road.
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky @ Nashville. The biggest ? here is whether the stalwart Big Blue Nation that fills Commonwealth so consistently will travel to NashVegas for a late starting Thursday night encounter? I know plenty inveterate UK fans who are committed to watching from the comfort of their Barcolounger. On the other hand, those frat boys and gals in Bowling Green will use any excuse to head south. As for the game, well, it’s going to be interesting to see if Morgan Newton has really matured . . and can stay healthy? Other than that, I see a lot of folks dosing off by halftime, given the insurmountable size of the Cats’ lead. Then they’ll just have to turn off the TV and the lights, and trundle into the bedroom, as opposed to driving three hours to get home in order to be at work in the morning.
Murray State @ Louisville. Before Cardinal fans get ready to tar and feather Pat Forde for picking the Racers in an upset, think back to another 9/01 opener against Murray State. In 1978, if you’re looking for exactitude. U of L 23, Murray State 26. It was not a pretty sight. Against a team that puts it in the air early and puts it in the air often, the mettle of the Cards questionable secondary shall be tested from the get go. Then there’s this: Where will diminutive Will Stein fall on the Stu Stram/ Stefan LeFors scale? The Red & Black faithful hope he’s closer to the latter. Whichever, it will be good enough for the Cards to win Thursday, though it might be tight.
– Seedy K