“I have an important question.”
“What is Britney doing with her life?”
That classic exchange between ESPN commentators Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge during the final moments of the Georgia-Alabama game almost made it worth picking Alabama to win the game.
This weekend’s picks may feature some excitement – two games boast four top-25 teams while a third features two traditional Southeastern conference powerhouses. As always, here are my picks: so wrong, they must be right.
No. 5 West Virginia at No. 18 South Florida, Friday, 8 p.m. – ESPN 2
Be honest: You miss having a meaningful football game to watch every Friday night. But going to a high school football game now would just make you a creepy college student. Fortunately, the Big East has you covered. The two-headed monster of Pat White and Steve Slaton has basically had its way with opposing defenses. The two have amassed 1,405 total yards and 21 touchdowns. That’s an average of 7.4 yards per play.
But the Mountaineers square off against one of two teams that beat them last season. The Bulls somehow found a way to stifle the White-Slaton duo en route to a 24-19 win on the road. The major difference between this year and last year is the Bulls are ranked and at home. Not only will Tampa be rocking for a nationally televised night game, but South Florida will want to prove last season’s win wasn’t a fluke.
No. 18 South Florida 28,
No. 5 West Virginia 24
No. 6 California at No. 11 Oregon, 3:30 p.m. – ABC
SEC or the Pac 10? If you watch the World Wide Leader, you’d think this was the greatest sports debate of all time. So if you buy into this fruitless argument, this game will surely provide evidence for Pac-10 supremacy. While Southern Cal is the cream of the crop, the Bears and Ducks are a close second and third. Not to mention, the winner will have an inside track to dethrone the Trojans. Neither team has an official Heisman hopeful, but Oregon’s Dennis Dixon and California’s DeSean Jackson could make good cases.
And neither team enjoys playing defense. The Ducks are ranked 78th in the nation, and the Bears look imposing by comparison at No. 54.
California and Oregon have had similar schedules thus far and each team has taken care of business. But this will be the first real road test for the Bears, and they haven’t faced a quarterback as talented as Dixon. Bears’ coach Jeff Tedford may be a favorite in the “Who will replace Lloyd Carr?” rumor mills, but his luster will dull a bit.
No. 11 Oregon 45,
No. 6 California 43
Auburn at No. 4 Florida, 8 p.m. – ESPN
If I bring up the great conference debate, I can’t offer one marquee conference matchup without offering another. Last season, this game was a bit more intriguing. The Tigers were 11th in the polls and hosted the second-best team in the country. Despite trailing 17-11 at the half, Auburn managed to blank a potent Gator offense and win 27-17 to provide the lone stumble during Florida’s national title run. This year’s game may not be as interesting.
The Tigers aren’t ranked. Two losses – at home, no less – against South Florida and Southern Miss are proof that this year’s team shouldn’t be feared much.
Plus, the game is in “The Swamp,” one of the most difficult places to win on the road. Add on the fact that the Gators are going for a school record-tying 12th straight win, and it’s easy to see the cards are stacked against Auburn.
But don’t feel too bad for the Tigers. Nose tackle Josh Thompson proposed to his girlfriend following last week’s 55-0 drubbing of New Mexico State and she said yes! So, you know if the season goes south after this game, at least his teammates will have an open bar to go to during the reception.
No 4. Florida 37, Auburn 17