Chaos reigned over college football this past weekend as top-ranked and favored teams crashed and burned on surreal Saturday. Yet, in the midst of such upheaval, a pattern emerged. All of the “O” teams lost, as in Oh, No—not Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon and Ohio State—all losers in week 12.
This scenario would have revealed itself early if Zultan’s Mom had not dropped-kicked his crystal ball into the Iowa River after the Hawkeyes lost to Minnesota in week nine. The subtle floating clue remained hidden since the Big Z had no crystal ball to gaze into, granting him gridiron visions of the future.
As it turned out, none of you detected this slight tilt in the prognosticating wheel of fortune either because not one of you out-guessed the all-seeing seer in week 12. Zultan went 7-3 and no one who entered the contest did better.
Unfortunately for all of you, this is Zultan’s last regular season forecast—so make sure you click here to enter your guesses in dreaded and decidedly wicked week 13. Zultan shudders at the prospect of selecting winners in such a cursed week.
This is your very last chance to better the Mighty Zultan in 2011—so take a spin.
Week 13 this marks the end of the schedule for several conferences. Now teams scurry to become bowl eligible—which forces respective athletic directors to sit by the phone, praying for a call from the selection committee inviting their team to the “bowl.”
Zultan expects his fans will demand a special “bowl selection” prognostication from the all-seeing seer—which he will do if demand is high enough. Let Zultan hear from you if you wish to challenge him in picking the winners of the ten biggest bowl games!
Game 1: Iowa Hawkeyes at (21) Nebraska Cornhuskers [Friday]
Well here it is at long last. Iowa (7-4, 4-3) must travel into desolate Lincoln Land to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3). This game has loomed large on the Hawkeye horizon even before the season began. The Iowa-Nebraska Big Ten border battle begins—this time west of the rambling Missouri River.
For 2011, the Cornhuskers are shucked and settled in the corn bin, awaiting spring and another season. Nebraska lost to Michigan last weekend, after squeaking by a demoralized Penn State Squad the weekend before. Plus, the Cornhuskers gave away a home game to the Northwestern Wildcats in week ten. Iowa, of course, is not faring much better, losing to pesky Iowa State, Penn State and Minnesota on the road and to a determined Michigan State squad at home on senior day.
But this will be a battle to the death - right, Mom? Mom agrees and decrees that Iowa will win.
Pick Iowa to win on the road.
Game 2: (3) Arkansas Razorbacks at (1) LSU Tigers [Friday]
What is there to say about this game except that it is critically important in determining the SEC Champion as well as who will play in the BCS title game on January 9 in New Orleans? Who will win between these two top-five ranked teams? Arkansas (10-1, 6-1) has lost only to then No. 3-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
This Razorback team looks even better than the Arkansas team of a year ago. The Hogs, however, play the LSU Tigers (11-0, 7-0) who are ranked No. 1 and remain undefeated. It is hard to bet against LSU, especially with Arkansas once again on the road.
Pick LSU to win at home.
Game 3: (8) Houston Cougars at Tulsa Golden Hurricane [Friday]
Who are these red-hot Houston Cougars who have risen into the BCS top ten? Yes, they are undefeated, standing (11-0, 7-0) in Conference USA play. But, really—the only team of note Houston has played and defeated this year is UCLA 38-34 in the first game of the season.
The Cougars are led by their star quarterback Case Keenum who has accumulated Heisman-like numbers in this 2011 season. Houston is playing for perfection against the unheralded Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-3, 7-0). Zultan thinks Tulsa, even as a force of nature, will not be able to blow the Cougars down.
Pick Houston to win on the road.
Game 4: (14) Michigan State Spartans at Northwestern Wildcats [Saturday]
If I were Michigan State (9-2, 6-1), I would be very worried about this game. After being declared the winner of the Legends Division and a lock to play for the first Big Ten Divisional Championship game, it would be a disaster to take this Northwestern team (6-5, 3-4) for granted. Just ask Nebraska.
The Wildcats still have sharp teeth and they can rip a complacent defense apart. The Spartans need to continue winning to increase their chances of placing big when it comes to post-season play. Zultan sees a “Rose” in their future. Northwestern, on the other hand, could really increase their attractiveness by winning this game against Michigan State.
Pick Michigan State to win on the road.
Game 5: Ohio State Buckeyes at (15) Michigan Wolverines [Saturday]
This is what Michigan (9-2, 5-2) has lived for since Lloyd Carr retired in 2007—redemption and a win against perennial rival Ohio State (6-5, 3-4). The last time Michigan won a game against Ohio State was in 2003 in Ann Arbor.
This year Brady Hoke has engineered magic with the Michigan squad by keeping the defense humming once again—a hallmark of great Wolverine football. Ohio State, reeling and trying to regain their equilibrium after the Tressel-scandal, is improving. The Buckeyes, however, will not be ready to stop the Denard Robinson-led Michigan offense.
Pick Michigan to win at home.
Game 6: Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers [Saturday]
One more win for Purdue (5-6, 3-4) will make the Boilermakers bowl eligible—but Purdue waited until the last regular season game before this urgency seemed to set it. While Indiana (1-10, 0-7) is “the doormat” of the Big Ten in 2011, the Hoosiers have shown some spark on offense—enough so to make some of their opponents sweat a bit before clamping down.
The Boilermakers must go to Indiana to win their shot at post-season play and Purdue has not won on the road this year. Admittedly, Purdue has the better all-around team compared to the Hoosiers but will the good Purdue show up on Saturday?
Pick Purdue to win on the road.
Game 7: Illinois Fighting Illini at Minnesota Gophers [Saturday]
Zultan predicts that Ron Zook will be history after this season—most assuredly if the Fighting Illini (6-5, 2-5) lose their final game on the road to Minnesota (2-9, 1-6). The Golden Gophers will be seeking to equal their win-loss record of 2010 by getting at least three wins. Jerry Kill has his team on the right path, attacking and believing.
You have to like the Gophers chances of winning this last home game of the season. Illinois, who began the year winning six games, will end the year losing six consecutive games. This is a good Illinois squad with lots of talent. They should be winning. Their losses must be blamed, therefore, on a lack of direction—of good, solid coaching.
Pick Minnesota to win at home.
Game 8: (19) Penn State Nittany Lions at (16) Wisconsin Badgers (Saturday]
This game will determine which Leaders Division team will play Michigan State for the Big Ten Championship game. Penn State (9-2, 6-1) made that possible by defeating Ohio State in Columbus last Saturday. The Nittany Lions have not won in Ohio very often. The last two times were 1978 and 2008. Ohio State is not a very generous host when it comes to giving up games to opponents.
This coming weekend, however, Penn State must travel to Camp Randall to face the Wisconsin Badgers (9-2, 5-2). The winner will move on to Indianapolis to play Michigan State on December 3 for the inaugural Big Ten Championship. The Nittany Lions showed real aggression, moving the ball while employing their typical stingy defense. But, the Lions will not be able to overcome the Badgers.
Pick Wisconsin to win at home.
Game 9: (2) Alabama Crimson Tide at (24) Auburn Tigers [Saturday]
Another SEC barnburner will be played on Saturday as the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1, 6-1) visit Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn to play the Tigers (7-4, 4-3). Gene Chizik’s Auburn team is hardly the same team that won the national championship in 2010. Auburn, however, is playing decently, perhaps better than most expected after the loss of legendary Cam Newton at quarterback.
Still this Tiger team will be no match for the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Alabama is trying desperately to work their way back into the conversation about playing LSU again in the BCS title game on January 9 in New Orleans. They cannot afford to lose to Auburn at this year’s Iron Bowl.
Pick Alabama to win on the road.
Game 10: (17) Clemson Tigers at (12) South Carolina Gamecocks [Saturday]
No other team reflects the mindset of college football in 2011 more than the Clemson Tigers (9-2, 6-2) whose recent losses seem without merit—unpredictable and unexplainable. This once-top-ten-team flew high for an extended time, then hit a brick wall. First Clemson was 8-0 before they gave up the ghost against Georgia Tech—a team Clemson should have beaten.
The Tigers seemed to right themselves but then flew into another wall against North Carolina State last weekend. The Wolfpack had not defeated this Clemson team in seven years. Let us just admit that Clemson did not focus on NC State, with their minds focused perhaps on this week’s contest against instate rivals, the South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2, 6-2). Although Clemson leads in this perennial slugfest, South Carolina has won the last two encounters. It is one nasty rivalry.
Pick South Carolina to win at home.
The Results from Week 12
No one did better than Zultan this past week. It marks the first time all season that the all-seeing one reigned supreme. Of course, admittedly, Zultan had some problems during the year, specifically, when he lost his crystal ball.
The 2011 season has been very challenging—not a remarkable one for the Big Ten—in fact, rather a down year on and off the field for the esteemed conference. The SEC did predictably well again. As the conferences all realign, expect a whole new world in college football in 2012.
Until then, may the force improve your prognosticating abilities. Enroll in Zultan’s Forecasting Academy for six weeks of intense meditation training. You, too, can become the greatest college football prognosticator living outside of Iowa.
Sayonara, gridiron gurus....