Sunday, September 25, 2011
Zultan's Fearless Big Ten Plus Football Predictions: Week 12
Don’t be sad. It had to happen.
Zultan faces the inevitable end of the season. Soon you will not have the all-seeing one to kick around anymore to paraphrase the often hilarious Richard Nixon! This is Zultan’s last regular fearless prediction column of 2009. Hibernation mercifully awaits.
Last week, the seer went six of 10, missing wins by Northwestern at Illinois, Michigan State at Purdue, Ohio State over Iowa (sigh), and Stanford’s annihilation of USC—whoa! Year to date, Zultan clings to a 72 percent win percentage[73 of 101].
This is your last chance to enter the drawing for a $50 Best Buy Gift card by entering your own predictions. If you outguess the mighty Zultan, your name will be placed in the drawing along with all those who have surpassed Zultan on the season.
The winner will be announced on Nov. 24 in a special feature on the web site Sports Now and Then, the sponsors of this contest.
Zultan may consider forecasting bowl winners if the hue and outcry for his return is great enough. You may let me know in your own inimitable style.
In the meantime, there are upcoming games to predict with much still at stake in the Big Ten and the rest of college football.
(1) No. 10 Ohio State at Michigan
This contest was once the climax of the Big Ten season between the two top dogs in the conference with the winner going to the Rose Bowl, often to be shellacked by the Pac-10 representative. Ohio State and Michigan were known as the “Big Two” and this was “The Game.” In 2000, ESPN ranked it as the top North American sports rivalry. Ah, how the mighty have fallen.
This year it is a study in contrast the top and the bottom, the beginning and the end. It is the beginning of another BCS Bowl bid for the Buckeyes and the end of another dismal season for the once mighty Wolverines.
Makes you feel like “Taps” at the start of the game is the only appropriate “marching” song. Zultan says Ohio State wins this one on the road.
(2) Minnesota at No. 13 Iowa
This traditional end of the season game between Iowa and Minnesota determines who will hoist the prized bronze pig. That in itself is no easy matter. The true story of the “Floyd of Rosedale ” trophy would indeed make a heart-wrenching musical comedy. Remind Zultan to tell it to you someday.
Both Iowa and Minnesota are bowl eligible this year; but Iowa must make a statement in this game to get the bowl selection committees to pay attention to their stellar season. Iowa has many big wins, but they have not been rewarded in the polls. Zultan picks Iowa to win this game in Kinnick Stadium and to retain the bronze pig for another year.
(3) No. 16 Wisconsin at Northwestern
This last weekend of action is replete with Big Ten showdowns on the road. The contest between Wisconsin and Northwestern is the first one up. Granted both teams are already bowl eligible, but now is the time to ratchet up the substance meter and add to the “wow” factor. It is imperative to make the bowls pay attention and beg you to play in their stadium.
A win by Northwestern could move them up the line toward a date on New Year’s day. You can bet that a loss by Wisconsin would send the Badgers further down into the obscurity pit. Wisconsin has been steady in the pocket all season. Zultan counts on the Badgers to continue by winning this one on the road.
(4) Purdue at Indiana
Neither of these teams have anything to play for but pride and an “Old Oaken Bucket.” Their seasons are marked with outstanding play in bursts, but an inability to play consistently from beginning to end. Success, as we know, is attained in the details. In the trenches fighting for inches.
Purdue has defeated Ohio State and Michigan in one year. Purdue is the only Big Ten team that has managed to defeat the mighty Buckeyes. Indiana has come close, but has only defeated one Big Ten foe in 2009, Illinois. This one is pretty much a toss up according to odds-makers, but based on Purdue's success, Zultan must give the nod to Purdue to win this one and come within a whisper of having a winning season.
(5) No. 14 Penn State at Michigan State
Penn State must win this game in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans. Otherwise, their bowl aura will be tarnished with a 9- 3 record, instead of 10- 2. One suggests an “OK” season, while the other promises delivery of top-notch gridiron feats.
Michigan State, on the other hand, will be hard-pressed to sell out stadiums with a record of 6-6. They could very well entice a few more spectators with a 7-5 season and a winning conference record.
This year, the Spartan defense has often let them down. On the other hand, the Penn State offense failed to jell when pressed by good defenses such as those of Ohio State and Iowa. Zultan feels that Penn State should prevail in another one of the problematic road games this coming weekend.
(6) No. 25 Cal at No. 17 Stanford
What idiot would bet against Stanford at home? Certainly not Zultan. Not after the humiliation of last week when the Cardinal beat down USC by a score of 55-21. Somebody must have laced the Cardinal's cinnamon oatmeal with Muscle Milk, as the Stanford squad made sure the USC body was not moving before they left the field of play.
I wonder if there was some sort of special incentive, beyond the normal one of winning at all costs that caused such an explosion of scoring. Expect Jim Harbaugh to become the next hot coaching commodity.
This week, Tiger Woods has been named honorary captain for the game against the No. 25 ranked Cal Bears. Expect Stanford to prevail and wait for their bowl invitations to come flooding in.
(7) No. 11 Oregon at Arizona
This is another tough road contest to call. Oregon can feel the hot breath of Stanford on their necks, because if they lose on Saturday to Arizona, or the following weekend to Oregon State, Stanford could steal the conference championship away—that is assuming Stanford wins on Saturday and follows that up with a win against Notre Dame.
Both are vying for a trip to Pasadena to meet the Big Ten winner. Right now the Oregon Ducks hold destiny on their own wings. If they win out, they win the conference. But that is the rub—winning out. Arizona is perfect at home.
They love their own playground and play excellent defense. Oregon may be cracking under the pressure. But Ducks prefer flying into the wind. Zultan foresees them beating the Wildcats at home.
(8) Oklahoma at Texas Tech
Going to Lubbock, Texas—sounds like a John Travolta flick featuring a Texas Two-Step sound track, or a Waylon Jennings plaintive love song. It will be none of these things on Saturday. It will be a struggle of a top-notch defense against a high scoring offense.
Oklahoma, banged-up, bruised, and broken, will put the pieces back together again for another road trip deep in the Big 12 South, where the home crowds are loud and the refs don’t always see.
The stakes are high for both teams—Zultan likes Oklahoma and picks them to take Texas Tech at home.
(9) No. 8 LSU at Mississippi
Notice that Zultan did not shy away from the tough picks this week. This one tops them all, as these two SEC teams battle it out. LSU and Mississippi can both break you with their defense—suffocating and aggressive.
But LSU has suffered some key injuries that hurt them, and they will not have RB Charles Scott, who suffered a broken collarbone last week. The Tigers may also be without quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
Mississippi has fallen on hard times since the start of the season. But this is an offense with explosive potential led by their quarterback Jevan Snead, once considered a Heisman contender. With the injuries to LSU and with home field advantage, Zultan must pick Mississippi to take this one.
(10) Air Force at No. 22 BYU
BYU was taken by surprise by New Mexico (0-10) winning only 24-19 against a team they should have blown away. Team members are saying that this near disaster was a well-timed wake up call before the Cougars meet tough traditional Mountain West Conference rivals Air Force and Utah.
Air Force will provide a much more diverse and tougher contest against the Cougars who cannot afford to turn the ball over this week. Expect the lesson to be learned. BYU will hold off Air Force and improve their MWC standing.
Last week seven lucky prognosticators bested poor old Zultan. They are to be heartily congratulated for their winning ways! David Eck, Cedar Falls, IA, Mike Vanderver, Howell, MI, and Jason Brown, Hampshire, IL all went 8-2. While Kim Suong, Fort Madison, IA, Daniel Repp, Albuquerque, NM, Craig Fudge, Woodbury, MN, and Ryan Sparrow, Channahon, IL finished 7-3.
Zultan covers the world!
This is your last chance to match wits with the master—so take advantage. He who wades in deep water often gets his feet soaked. Zultan has been wet all season. Take a leap. See if you can beat him before he becomes at one with the wistful fates...
Published on Bleacher Report and Sports Then & Now on November 17, 2009 by JA Allen