What You Need to Know

"Every week during football season I go into short trances that allow me to see the final score on each football scoreboard across the nation. I try to enlighten the masses about who will win each week. They try to outguess me."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zultan's Fearless Football Forecast: Week Ten

It was a horrible day for a daring football prognosticator who swore Notre Dame was over-rated, who was sure the Gators were worthy of being ranked No. 2 and who predicted the Lions could best the Buckeyes at home in Happy Valley.

Like Icarus who flew too close to the sun—Mighty Zultan came too close to perfection. The Football Gods torched his flammable cloak, sending the All-Seeing One headlong into the sink hole of also-rans—where the rest of you dwell.

Except, of course the dozen or so who out-guessed Zultan last Saturday.

These distinguished prognosticators will be listed at the end of this article with appropriate kudos for those who rose above Zultan in Week 9.

Week ten promises even more untold surprises.

What unlucky unbeaten will fall? Will Nebraska manage to sustain their lead and win on the road? Can LSU change the course of football history in 2012?

Zultan was mortally wounded in Week 9—managing to go 5-5.  He is staggering under the weight of expectation.  Make your own picks in Week 10—go head-to-head with Zultan to defend your choices.

Game 1: Iowa Hawkeyes at Indiana Hoosiers
Iowa reaching (photo by blackheartgoldpants.com)

Indiana (3-5) scored a big win last weekend over Illinois—the Hoosiers’ first win in Big Ten play.

Fielding one of the most aggressive offenses in the Big Ten— after coming close so many times—Indiana will try to extend their feel-good win by defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes at home.

Iowa (4-4) comes into Bloomington after a lackluster performance against the Northwestern Wildcats. The Hawkeyes need to win this game in insure any hope of being invited to any bowl game.

Hopefully the Hawkeye walking wounded will return to the lineup this Saturday.

Even though the Hoosiers will sport a new-found confidence after their first Big Ten win—hopefully, the Hawks can soar again. Once more for Mom.

Pick Iowa.

Game 2: (20) Nebraska Cornhuskers at Michigan State Spartans

This game is one of several puzzlers for Zultan as he tries to unravel and make sense of Big Ten football this year.

Forget global warming, here is a real unfathomable mystery. Who might be good this year in the Big Ten? It varies from week to week—except for Ohio State who remains a non-factor in post-season play.

Last week, after knocking Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson out of the game, (20) Nebraska (6-2) defeated Michigan in Lincoln.

At the same time, Michigan State (5-4) ripped the rug out from under Wisconsin in OT, winning the game during the last ticks of the game clock.

Nebraska comes into East Lansing to play Michigan State whose defense should contain the Huskers if the unit is not stuck on the field the whole game. The real question remains—can the Spartans mount an offense? It looked promising last weekend at the end of their game against Wisconsin.

At home against the Huskers with a trip to a bowl game on the line...

Pick Michigan State

Game 3: Michigan Wolverines at Minnesota Gophers

Another tough pick especially since we are unsure of the status of Denard Robinson, Michigan’s premiere quarterback who was knocked out the Wolverine’s game with Nebraska last Saturday.

Without Robinson, Michigan (5-3) is just mediocre at best.

Minnesota (5-3) played great ball last Saturday, outgunning Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis 44-28.

Turnovers gave the Gophers quite a boost during the game. Their half-time lead proved too much for the Boilermakers to overcome in the second half.

With Denard Robinson, however, Michigan fields a better team on both sides of the ball—despite their loss against the Nebraska Cornhuskers last Saturday.

Pick Michigan

Game 4: Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio State Buckeyes

Surely there is no question here.

As long as Ohio State (9-0) doesn’t make the mistake of trying to phone in this performance, the Buckeyes should take care of Illinois (2-6) without too much worry for the vocal Buckeye fans in the stands.

Ohio State remains perfect this season while the Fighting Illini have a long way to go to achieve success.

But, never discount this team whose season could be salvaged with a win over the unbeaten Buckeyes.

Still—the crystal ball predicts that will not happen.

Pick Ohio State.

Game 5: Penn St Nittany Lions at Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue (3-5) has been close to victory so many times this season. The Boiler’s record does not truly indicate their gridiron capabilities—except for the fact that they cannot close out a win. 

This is, however, a disastrous shortcoming, needing immediate change.

Last weekend, moreover, the Boilers suffered from multiple turnovers handing the game over to the Minnesota Gophers in the first half. Purdue must not repeat this trend against a highly disciplined Penn State team.

Penn State (5-3) could not bring down Ohio State in Happy Valley last Saturday. The Lions did not play a bad game—they were just not as good as Ohio State. If the Lions can keep that loss in perspective, Penn State should leave Ross-Ade Stadium with a victory over Purdue

Pick Penn State

Game 6: (16) Texas A&M Aggies at (15) Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State (7-1) lost their first football game of the season as they faced the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama. The Aggies lost 38-7, not scoring in the game until the last five minutes. The outcome was never in doubt.

Texas A&M (6-2) stomped on Auburn last Saturday, revealing first hand the condition of the Tigers in 2012. The Aggies have lost twice this season—to No. 24 Florida State in Week 2 and to LSU in Week 9.

This week Texas A&M must travel to Starkville to face the Bulldogs—fighting it out with LSU for the No. 2 spot in the SEC West—with no team wishing to finish lower.

Mississippi State has not played any ranked team except Alabama and the Bulldogs were powerless against the Crimson Tide.

Texas A&M has lost to two ranked opponents but did secure a win over Louisiana Tech when they were ranked.

But since the Bulldogs are at home...

Pick Mississippi State.

Game 7: (4) Oregon Ducks at (17) USC Trojans

Somehow the BCS’ cyclical reasoning has seen the Oregon Ducks (8-0) shunted to the No. 4 spot while the SEC gains ground playing against itself.

Zultan sees a big hole in the ranking system.

Nonetheless, the Ducks will have an opportunity to prove their worth this coming weekend. All they have to do is defeat an angry USC team in the Coliseum.

Easy enough? You have to remember that being upset by USC last year cost the Ducks a shot at playing for the national championship. Ducks do not forgive or forget.

Last weekend USC (6-2) was upset by Arizona 39-36 as turnovers cost the Trojans. But this weekend USC will be at home with all their senses attuned to defeating Oregon. Oregon ran over Colorado last Saturday, 70-14 in a game not as close as the score indicates. It was a mammoth blowout.

This Saturday it will be much closer for the Ducks.

Pick Oregon

Game 8: (1) Alabama Crimson Tide at (5) LSU Tigers

Last year these two teams were vying for the national championship as Alabama and LSU met in the BCS title game.  It was not a happy ending for the Tigers.

This Saturday they meet in Baton Rouge playing for the lead in the SEC West—giving the winner a leg up for BCS consideration.

Last Saturday Alabama (8-0) took care of previously unbeaten Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa 38-7. So far this season the Crimson Tide has not been challenged on the gridiron.

LSU, however, will challenge them.

LSU (7-1) suffered one defeat this season—to the Florida Gators 14-6. It was a defensive struggle in the trenches, so to speak. LSU has eased past a couple of teams, rarely dominating action on the field.

LSU is not the same team they were a year ago. Alabama is—and then some.

Pick Alabama

Game 9: (23) Texas Long Horns at (18) Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech (6-2) welcomes Texas (6-2) into Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday with both teams trying to keep their hopes alive for a Big 12 title.

That dream, however, seems to be receding into the sunset as Kansas State saunters toward the finish line—so far unscathed.

Last Saturday Texas held on to defeat Kansas as the game clock ticked down.

 This while Texas Tech was busy turning the ball over to Kansas State, suffering a big defeat at the hands of the Wildcats.

The Red Raiders have a big offense but suffer on defense, allowing too many points by the opposition.

On paper, this game belongs to Texas Tech. Zultan loves paper...

Pick Texas Tech

Game 10: (13) Clemson Tigers at Duke Blue Devils

In the meantime, the ACC lives on through the efforts of Clemson and Florida State.

In Week 8, however, the Duke Blue Devils became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. That triumph came against North Carolina, however, and not against Florida State.

Against the Seminoles, Duke got slammed 48-7.

Duke may win a couple more times—but not next weekend when they face Clemson.

The Clemson Tigers (7-1) won against Wake Forest last Saturday 42-13. Their only loss this season was at the hands of (9) Florida State.

Duke, who remains tied for the top spot in the Coastal Division, will not be able to stop Clemson even in their own back yard.

Pick Clemson

The Aftermath

Last week Zultan went 5-5, losing more picks than he has all season long—in fact in two seasons. A dozen who challenged the All-Seeing Seer outguessed him. But no one was perfect or even missed by one.

One fellow traveler missed two—followed by two who missed three picks and eight who went 6-4.  

Following are the brilliant prognosticators who outshone Zultan in Week 9. Kudos! sojourners.

Kathi Sparks - No city given

Lenny Cossman, Jr - Parkersburg, IA
Chris Seberg - New Brighton, MA

Patrick Elliott - Ottumwa, IA
David May - Casselberry, FL
Robert Reihm - Encinitas, CA
Dennis Ristau - Eleva, WI
John Snyder - Huntington Beach, CA
Carl Spackler - Wakefield, MA
Carl Stine - Kingman, AZ
Dean Studt - Rockledge, FL
Skipper Woodham - Atlanta, GA

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Zultan's Fearless Forecast: Iowa, the Big Ten Closes the Gap

The Iowa Hawkeyes are proving to be Zultan’s Achilles heel this season.

For the past two Saturdays, the Z’s only misses have come because the All-Seeing One misread the signs concerning the Hawkeye’s success on the gridiron. 

Zultan picked them to lose against Michigan State on the road and win over Penn State at home. Needless to say, that did not work out to the Pigskin Prognosticator's advantage.  

Those picks doomed Zultan keeping him from achieving perfection two weeks in a row.

With the Iowa miss, Zultan went 9-1 in Week 8. Unsettled forces troubled the gridiron, however, causing very close matches with several instances of heart-stopping heroics winning the day. The BCS loomed large in the background.

Still a win is a win. 

For the year, Zultan comes in at 34-6 or 85 percent. But Week 9 will be the proverbial turning point in the Big Ten as well as in a number of the top conferences. The “Big Z” senses trouble afoot.

Therefore, this could well be your week to outguess him. Time to make your own picks and be saluted by Zultan in next week’s column—since so few of you have managed to outshine Zultan so far. None this past week, in fact.

Game 1: Iowa Hawkeyes at Northwestern Wildcats

Going forward, fate has determined that the Hawkeyes (4-3) will do the opposite of what Zultan forecasts until the cloud over Iowa City dissolves. Therefore, “Z” must pick the Hawks to lose . Such a move would make Mom happy—since she swears Zultan has evolved into the evil eye casting spells over the Hawkeye Nation.

Northwestern (6-2) must be in the doldrums—or fighting mad—after giving up the lead at the end of the game to Nebraska last Saturday. The Cats had beaten down the Husker offense and kept them in arrears for all but the last two minutes of the game. But Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez came back hard in the fourth to secure the win for the Huskers on the road.

Northwestern’s generous spirit will not extend to the Hawkeyes who will limp into Evanston wounded and 
deflated after being embarrassed in Iowa City by the Penn State team.

Pick Northwestern 

Game 2: Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois Fighting Illini

Indiana (2-5) suffered another last quarter loss, going down to defeat in Annapolis 30-31 to the Navy Midshipmen. The Hoosiers were another Big Ten victim of the frantic end-of-the-game two-minute drill by the opposing team.  Indiana led this contest throughout—until the Midshipmen scored to go ahead with two minutes left on the clock.

But one thing about the Hoosiers—they have a great offense. It would be even better if their defense followed suit. But, alas, that is not the case.

This week Illinois (2-5) hosts the Hoosiers in Champaign. These two teams are at the bottom of the Big Ten Leader’s Division. Illinois, however, has not shown anything yet on either side of the ball.  

Even though the oddsmakers favor the Illini, Zultan will...

Pick Indiana

Game 3: Purdue Boilermakers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Purdue’s defeat in overtime at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes had to make the Boiler’s collective fan base weep.

Purdue (3-4) had the game in hand—in Columbus, no less. But during the last tick of the game clock, Ohio State took the ball into the end zone and added a two-point conversion to force overtime. 

In overtime, Ohio State sealed the deal, winning the game but losing their quarterback in the process.

Minnesota (4-3) was busy trying to hold down the Wisconsin offense in Week 8. So far the Gophers have not had any success in the Big Ten.

They will welcome Purdue into Minneapolis where, hopefully, Coach Kill has instilled some backbone into the Gopher defense.

Purdue, if they play up to their level, should win this game—assuming they have the right attitude.

Zultan guesses that they will.

Pick Purdue 

Game 4: Michigan State Spartans at (25) Wisconsin Badgers

Michigan State (4-4) lost another heartbreaker on Saturday to their instate rivals, the Michigan Wolverines. This one came down to five seconds on the clock as Michigan put up a field goal to edge past the Spartans 12-10 in Ann Arbor.  It was the first Michigan victory over Michigan State since 2007.  

Wisconsin (6-2), on the other hand, had their way with Minnesota. They ran over the Gophers all the way to 38-13 exploding on offense in the fourth quarter.  

Michigan State seems to be falling back as Wisconsin gains steam. Expect this trend to continue.

Pick Wisconsin

Game 5: Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions

Ironically, the two sanctioned teams in the Big Ten are the two best.

While Penn State (5-2) was busy humiliating the Iowa Hawkeyes, Ohio State (8-0) was fighting for their lives at home to get past Purdue.

How does that information help Zultan shape the forecast for Week 9?

Ohio State was just plain lucky to get out of that game in Columbus with a win and with their quarterback in one piece. If they are smart, the Buckeye coaching staff will not overtax Braxton Miller upon his return to the lineup this week.

It is a difficult spot, however, trying to remain perfect on the road in Happy Valley.  

Penn State’s defense is awesome—a thing of beauty. Now that their offense is keeping pace, this should be the ultimate test for both programs. For his part, Zultan sees the future of this contest clearly.

Pick Penn State

Game 6: (22) Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers 

This is another big contest in the Big Ten. The Michigan Wolverines (5-2) who lead in the Legends Division, will travel to Lincoln to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-2) who are dying to trip the Wolverines up on their way to the Big Ten Championship game.

Nebraska just eased past Northwestern last weekend in a game they should have lost—but it was on the road. Yet the Huskers held on and came up with goods when they were needed, led by the often harangued quarterback Taylor Martinez.

Michigan also escaped defeat by a whisker, but the Wolverines were at home.  This week the Wolverines will face another stiff defense in a hostile environment. You have never seen hostile until you have visited in Lincoln. 
Zultan believes the rarified air in Lincoln will be too much for the Wolverines in Week 9.

Pick Nebraska. 

Game 7: (2) Florida Gators at (10) Georgia Bulldogs

Last Saturday the Florida Gators (7-0) ground South Carolina to dust and blew them away 44-11, proving that their No. 2 BCS ranking was no fluke. It was redemption for the Gators who knew they were special from day one.

Meanwhile Georgia (6-1) was having an off day on the road at Kentucky (1-7). They could not put the Wildcats away until the fourth quarter. After going up 29-17 midway through the last quarter, Kentucky came back to score again with just under four minutes left on the clock closing the gap to 29-24.
But the Bulldogs held on.

This week, however, Georgia hosts the Gators in Jacksonville, Florida. This game will determine the probable winner of the SEC East. The Gators have so far exceeded expectations while the Bulldogs have not.  

Expect that to continue.

Pick Florida

Game 8: (5) Notre Dame Fighting Irish at (8) Oklahoma Sooners

The fighting Irish (7-0) have their first real test of the season on the road. Notre Dame must travel to Norman to face the Oklahoma Sooners (5-1). Both teams are ranked in the top ten regardless of your favorite poll. 

The Irish seem to be making their way back into national prominence. But take a look at who Notre Dame has vanquished. True the Irish past Michigan and Stanford, both now ranked but this only the second game on the road for the Irish. 

Oklahoma who suffered a loss at home against the best team in the Big 12, Kansas State, has been rebuilding their Big 12 fences, trying to prove they are worthy of consideration by the BCS. 
Despite outside forces, no way will Notre Dame out-offense the Sooners on the road.

Pick Oklahoma

Game 9: (14) Texas Tech Red Raiders at (3) Kansas State Wildcats

It took Texas Tech (6-1) three overtimes to put down TCU on the road. The Red Raiders must be exhausted after putting up that many points (56-53) over the No. 23 ranked Horned Frogs.

They should have saved something because they will need it traveling to Manhattan to face Bill Snyder and his superlative Wildcats. Kansas State (7-0) annihilated West Virginia whose high octane offense found no legs against the Wildcat’s drop-dead defense. 

You got to love Bill Snyder, by the way, who once served on Hayden Fry’s staff at Iowa. Hayden and Zultan are old pals, you know. But mainly you must appreciate what Snyder has done to bring glory back to Manhattan.

Pick Kansas State

Game 10: (11) Mississippi St. Bulldogs at (1) Alabama Crimson Tide

Mississippi State (7-0) had an easy Saturday, sauntering past Middle Tennessee in Starkville. They won 45-3. 
Life will not be so easy this Saturday as the Bulldogs pack their bags for Tuscaloosa to face the No.1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0). 

Alabama also had an easy day on the gridiron rolling past Tennessee 44-13.

So far, however, Mississippi State has faced no ranked team while Alabama has faced only a prematurely ranked Michigan team at home. Neither team has really been tested. 

This is the first real challenge for either SEC team. It will give some hint about the veracity of the ranking systems once the curtain comes down on Saturday.  

Zultan believes Alabama is the real deal and Mississippi State is the pretender.

Pick Alabama.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Zultan's Week 8 Fearless Forecast: BCS Doom!

Hawkeyes and Big Ten Set Adrift by BCS...

Well it was bound to happen. Once the BCS announced itself on Sunday, the Big Ten disappeared from college football polls, as if by magic.  Gone.

The Mighty Conference will be whispered about in future recollections about the glory days of the Big Ten—this year being its swan song according to sports writers everywhere.

The real tragedy of this past weekend, however, was Zultan’s failure to pick the Iowa Hawkeyes to win their game on Saturday.

Who wouldn’t have picked the black birds  with their highly suspect record, traveling into East Lansing to do battle with a team which was a pre-season top ten team?

Zultan was a fool not to pick them!

No excuses. The All-Seeing Seer fell down, disappointing Mom and the Hawkeye Nation. Warning: Zultan will be punished by the football Gods going forward.

The Big Z had a perfect pick ten in his hands and he dropped the pass. The shame is monumental.

Except for the Hawkeye stunner, however, Zultan was once again perfect, missing this one shameful call. Only one person guessed them all right—Kent Christen of Shiloh, Illinois gets the big Zultan congrats this week!

Six of you tied Zultan, but did not go that extra step! Better luck next week.

No doubt the football deities will punish Zultan this week, so best to get on board and make your picks now for your chance to win fame and glory by outguessing the Mighty Seer in Week 8.

Game 1: [Big Ten] Michigan State at Michigan

This game will make or break Michigan State. The Spartans let one slip away last week in double overtime to the Iowa Hawkeyes. That pushed them to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten.

So far in conference play Michigan State lost to Ohio State by one point and suffered a three point loss to the Hawkeyes, falling 19-16 in overtime.

The Spartans have played close but could not “close the door” on Big Ten opponents.

Meanwhile Michigan, after being embarrassed by Notre Dame in Week 4, came back to dominate Purdue and Illinois.

During the 2012 season the Wolverine’s two losses have been to Alabama and Notre Dame. Michigan, now 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten could cement a top spot in the Legends Division with a win on Saturday.

Denard Robinson and crew will be too much for a tired Spartan defense.

Pick Michigan

Game 2: [Big Ten] Purdue Boilermakers at Ohio State

Well what can you say about the Ohio State Buckeyes?

They have improved to 7-0 on the season and are the best team in the invisible Big Ten. Braxton Miller and company continue on a roll, getting stronger every week.

The Buckeyes play, as they should, with a "nothing to lose attitude" in 2012.

While Purdue plays even ball, now 3-3 on the season, the Boilermakers will definitely have to produce an error-free game on the road in the Columbus "Horseshoe" to win this one.

Talk about your impossible dreams. This windmill will not tilt. Ohio State will not stumble inside their own house.

Pick Ohio State

Game 3: [Big Ten] Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin (5-2) won their game last weekend against Purdue 38-14. During the game Badger running back Montee Ball set a Big Ten record—running for 247 yards and scoring three touchdowns on the afternoon.

With 72 total career touchdowns, Ball broke a Big Ten record formerly held by Big Ten Heisman winner from Wisconsin, Ron Dayne.

This weekend the Badgers welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-2) to Camp Randall in Madison.

Minnesota suffered another setback last weekend against Northwestern coming up short 21-13. The Gophers, however, had their chances to win this game but allowed errors and miscues to spoil homecoming in Minneapolis.

Next week on the road, the Gophers will find stopping the Badger running game a whole lot tougher.

Pick Wisconsin

Game 4: [Big Ten] Nebraska Cornhuskers at Northwestern Wildcats

The Nebraska Cornhuskers have had a week to mull over their humiliating loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 6—to the tune of 63-28.

Nothing stings a Cornhusker as much as losing in such a beat down. No doubt Bo Pelini and the Nebraska defense will be more than ready for the Wildcats offense.

So far Northwestern stands at 6-1 on the season.

Their only loss came at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions who managed to shut down the Wildcat offense as the game wore on.

Expect the Huskers to follow suit, and leave Kain Colter and company out in the cold.
Saturday, the Cornhuskers will try to rebuild their chance to lead the Legend’s Division into a Big Ten championship game.

Pick Nebraska

Game 5: [Big Ten] Indiana Hoosiers at Navy

Indiana has one great offense. They put up plenty of points.

The problem for the Hoosiers, however, remains defense. You simply must be able to stop the other team from scoring if you expect to win. It is an important ingredient—essential in Big Ten football.
Last week the Hoosiers scored 49 points against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Impressive.

But the problem was that Indiana allowed Ohio State roll up 52 points—resulting in an Indiana loss for the fourth straight week.

This weekend Indiana travels to Annapolis where they will face Navy (3-3).

It is possible that the Midshipman’s triple option will leave the Indiana defense dead in their tracks as Navy's aggressive ground game grinds out yardage.

You would love to see Indiana outscore this team but....

Pick Navy

Game 6: [Big Ten] Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes

Penn State had a week off to get ready for Iowa (4-2). But which Iowa team did they prepare to meet? That is the real question.

With a  couple of Big Ten wins under their belt makes the Hawkeyes become a whole lot more dangerous.

The Iowa defense has jelled and the offense seems to sputter to life now and again beyond the running attack of Mark Weisman which has been phenomenal.

Credit Weisman, kicker Mike Meyers and a stiff defense for the win on a sloppy, wet afternoon in East Lansing.

Penn State won their last four games after losing their first two. The Nittany Lions are playing defense as they used to, stopping opponents before they can score. In Week 6, the Lions took care of
Northwestern within the confines of Happy Valley.

Iowa, however, has always been a thorn for Penn State. Expect that status to continue.

Pick Iowa

Game 7: [Big 12] Kansas State (4) at West Virginia (13)

This game will be played in Morgantown which is some distance from the Kansas prairie. Bill Snyder and his Kansas State Wildcats will make the journey, however, in an effort to hold onto their first place status in the Big 12.

Last week West Virginia fell hard to Texas Tech, proving that you really need a potent defense to win it all in the Big 12. They will be reminded of that again this week as Kansas State with their old-fashioned stance proves that slow and steady wins the race.

That is not to say that Wildcat football is not exciting because Collin Klein and company keep the ball moving on offense—enough so that Kansas State remains undefeated and could well be part of a national championship game if they do not slip and fall on the way to the finish line.

Zultan does not think the Cats will fall this week.

Pick Kansas State

Game 8: [SEC] South Carolina (7) at Florida (2)

This is a big game in the SEC and in the BCS. The South Carolina Gamecocks must step up and win this game if they are to make their case in the SEC East.

Steve Spurrier and company came up short last week in their game at LSU and they cannot afford back to back losses in Week 8.

Florida is 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC. Their emergence into the upper echelons of the SEC was not expected. Quarterback Jeff Driskel has been equally surprising leading the Gators to an undefeated season to date.

The Gamecocks will be seeking to right the ship LSU almost sank last weekend by coming up two points short.

The problem is that South Caroline must journey to Gainesville to try to take down the BCS No. 2 ranked team. Tough assignment.

Pick Florida

Game 9: [SEC] LSU (6) at Texas A & M (18)

Welcome to the SEC Texas A & M. This week you get to host LSU and later you get to travel to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama.

But other than a single loss to the Florida Gators in Week 2, the Aggies have managed the transition pretty well—much better than the Missouri Tigers, Zultan feels.

Texas A&M just defeated a very competitive Louisiana Tech 59-57 this past weekend in a very close contest on the road.

But LSU is no Louisiana Tech—not by a long shot. Even though it is very tough to play in College Station, expect LSU to rise to the occasion after upending South Carolina last weekend.

LSU still has plenty to prove this season and they can afford no sudden unexpected losses.

Pick LSU

Game 10: [ACC] Virginia Tech at Clemson (19)

Zultan must take a whirl on the ACC merry-go-round during the inaugural BCS poll in college football. Next week he will try his hand at the Big East.

Besides Florida State at No. 14, Clemson (5-1) is the only other ranked football team in the ACC.  At least the ACC has one!

Florida State is also the only team so far this season to defeat the Clemson Tigers.

On Saturday, Clemson hosts Virginia Tech (4-3). The Hokies survived a 20-0 deficit by Duke last Saturday to rally to win their game 41-20. Virginia Tech came back with a vengeance. Can they do it again?

The question will be answered once the dust settles on Saturday.  In the meantime...

Pick Clemson

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zultan's Week 7 College Football Forecast

So close to perfection this past weekend. LSU failed to hold off the Florida Gators for four quarters—going down to defeat 14-6.

That was Zultan’s only loss this week—ending at 9-1 in week 6.

Only one of you bettered the all-seeing seer - Chris Humphreys who runs the the Sports Chump Blog
(sportschump.net). He scored a perfect 10-0.

Hmmmpf. I wonder what brand of crystal ball he uses??

The rest of you failed to outguess the mighty Zultan during week 6.  Perhaps week 7 will be better because it looks like a promising week for major upsets!

The brief respite for the Hawkeyes is over—not that much good happened during the Iowa “bye” week.  It seems that a few players partied themselves into a tight spot.

Consequently, I had to convince Mom that “The Register” went out of business and that "no news is good news" as far as the Hawkeyes were concerned.

This week the Hawks have to travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State. I will be slipping tranquilizers into Mom’s Bosco.

In the Leaders and Legends Divisions only Ohio State (8) and Michigan (25) are now ranked. The Big Ten Conference continues to sink in all football categories except making money—which is a favorable spot if you cannot excel on the gridiron.

The question now is can you outguess the Fearless One?  Are you willing to take a chance and live life on the edge like Zultan?

Forewarned: Week 7 is going to be rough. There are no easy contests this week.

Still, if you want a piece of the action—just make your picks and we will see who is better at predicting the future on Saturday.

Game 1: [Big Ten] Iowa Hawkeyes at Michigan State Spartans

First of all, the Spartans (4-2) are favored in this week’s game held in East Lansing.

Michigan State held off Indiana last weekend 31-27, winning the game in the fourth quarter showcasing a less than sterling outing against the Hoosiers.

Iowa, coming off a bye week after winning their Big Ten opener over the Minnesota Gophers, had some off-week issues that cloud the crystal ball’s forecasting ability.

What remains crystal clear is the image of Mark Weisman rushing for 177 yards with 155 of those coming in the first half as Iowa shot out to a 24-0 lead.

But, the Michigan State defense is considerably better than Minnesota’s. Plus, the game is in hostile territory for the Hawks.

Pick Michigan State to win at home.   (Do not tell Mom about this pick.)

Game 2: [Big Ten] Northwestern Wildcats at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Northwestern (5-1) lost their first game of the season against Penn State (4-2) last weekend—mainly because of a superior defensive effort in the second half by the Lions.

Then too, Penn State won the final fifteen minutes of the game hands down, 22-0.  That was enough to pull Northwestern off their undefeated perch as the Wildcats suffered their first defeat, 39-28.

Minnesota (4-1) also has only one loss on the season—to the Iowa Hawkeyes in week 5.

But the Gophers were without the talented Marqueis Gray sitting in the pocket, leading the Gopher offense.

Offense, however, will not be the issue for the Gophers, whether Gray returns or not.

The main problem for the Gophers will be defense—stopping the potent Wildcat offense.

Pick Northwestern to win on the road.

Game 3: [Big Ten] Wisconsin Badgers at Purdue Boilermakers

What has happened to Wisconsin? The Badgers (4-2) certainly have not performed as we expected at the start of the season.

But, of course, this is a down year for the Big Ten all around.

Last week against Illinois, it took the Badgers three quarters to work up enough speed and will power to overcome the fighting Illini.

Scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter was required in order to win the game over Illinois at home in Camp Randall Stadium.

Purdue (3-2) , on the other hand, could not stop the running attack of Denard Robinson. The Wolverine quarterback rushed for 235 yards on the day, scoring one touchdown on the ground as well as one through the air to Devin Gardner.

Purdue managed 13 points on the day but ultimately the Boilers were crushed by the Wolverines 44-13.
Saturday’s game played at West Lafayette should be a toss-up.

It is a tough, tough pick but ultimately the Badgers have more talent and at this point in the season, they will step it up in order to have a chance to end the season with decent numbers and a shot at a major bowl.

Pick Wisconsin to win on the road.

Game 4: [Big Ten] Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Wolverines (25)

Last weekend Purdue had no answers when it came to stopping Denard Robinson and the potent offense of the Michigan Wolverines.

It stands to reason that the Fighting Illini will also be unable to stop the Wolverines—especially playing at home in front of Ann Arbor kin folk.

The Illinois squad seems lost this season. They have some good moments but not enough consistency on either side of the ball to win in the Big Ten—at least so far.

Their defense once again this season is severely lacking. You cannot win if you cannot stop the other
team from scoring at will.

Pick the Wolverines to win at home.

Game 5: [Big Ten] Ohio State Buckeyes (8) at Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana (2-3) played one heck of a game against the Michigan State Spartans (4-2) in week 6.
The Hoosiers—kept pace step for step until the fourth quarter when the Spartans stepped down hard on the accelerator to shoot past Indiana in the fourth quarter.

Cameron Coffman threw for 282 yards including three touchdowns and no interceptions against a very good Spartan defense.

The Hoosiers, however, gained only 35 rushing yards on the day which eventually led to Michigan State shutting them down in the fourth quarter.

Indiana, however, possesses a lot of untapped potential which seems to emerge week by week.

Ohio State (6-0), however, remains the one bright spot in the Big Ten, ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll in week 7. Last week, according to most, the Buckeyes “crushed” the Nebraska Cornhuskers to make the biggest statement so far.

The scope of the loss knocked Nebraska out of the top 25 in both polls, leaving a huge hole in the Legends Division or perhaps paving the way for Michigan to seize control.

Ohio State is, of course, ineligible for post season play.

But the Buckeyes continue to lead the conference in every conceivable manner—both good and bad.

Pick: Ohio State to win at Indiana.

Game 6: [SEC] South Carolina Gamecocks (3) at LSU Tigers (9)

This is a big game in the SEC and in the top 25.

South Carolina (6-0) must travel to Baton Rouge to do battle with LSU (5-1) on Saturday. Last weekend, of course, LSU lost their first game of the season to Florida (5-0) in Gainsville.

Perhaps the loss will serve as a wake-up call to the Tigers who may be resting on their laurels and their previous season’s success.

This week LSU welcomes in the Gamecocks of South Carolina who dominated No. 5 ranked Georgia last weekend in an unexpectedly lopsided game.

The Gamecocks rolled out 392 yards of offense against the Bulldogs who seemed flat and out of sync on the afternoon. South Carolina’s defense did its job convincingly.

So this week the Gamecocks must travel to Baton Rouge where no doubt they will find a newly inspired LSU team awaiting.

Pick LSU to win at home.

Game 7: [PAC 12] Stanford Cardinal (17) at Notre Dame (7)

Stanford (4-1) travels to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in week 7. Both teams are ranked in the top 25 and both have much yet to prove concerning their lofty college football rankings.
To date, Notre Dame remains undefeated while Stanford has suffered one loss on the season at the hands of the Washington Huskies.

Last week the Cardinal had to scramble to outmaneuver Arizona in overtime to secure the win.

Stanford so far has not fared well on the road. In fact, this will be only their second road test of the season.

They lost to Washington on the road and they will lose again to Notre Dame on the road.

Note: If the game were at Stanford, then Zultan would pick the Cardinal to win.

Pick Notre Dame to win at home in week 7.

Game 8: [Big 12] Texas Longhorns (15) at Oklahoma Sooners (13)

It is time for the annual Red River Rivalry game between Texas (4-1) and Oklahoma (3-1), played in Dallas for bragging rights in the Big 12.

The Sooners have already suffered one loss this season to Kansas State. The Sooners can afford no more losses if they wish to play in a BCS Bowl in January.

Texas lost last weekend at home to the West Virginia transplants who proved to have too much offense for the Longhorns to handle on Saturday.

Last second heroics sealed the game for the Mountaineers as they fell on an onside kick booted by Texas after a late fourth quarter score.

Oklahoma has an experienced leader in quarterback Landry Jones bolstered by his backfield. This extra
ingredient will be enough to turn the tide.

Pick Oklahoma to win this one in Dallas.

Game 9: [PAC 12] USC Trojans (11) at Washington Huskies
USC (4-1) had to scramble to win against Utah in week 6. The Utes shot out to a 14-0 early lead over the Trojans.
But that was before Matt Barkley and company turned the game around—coming back to win on the road 38-28.

Earlier in the season, USC was stunned—upset at Stanford—this after being the pre-season No. 1 ranked team in college football.

But the Trojans are slowly turning their season around and will no doubt finish strong.

The Washington Huskies (3-2), however, defeated Stanford the week after the Cardinal upended USC in a big upset of their own.

So far Washington has lost twice—to No. 2 ranked Oregon and to a No. 3 ranked LSU.
Playing in Seattle can be tricky. The Huskies like to play at home where the fans are very supportive.

But you have to favor the Trojans in this one.

Pick USC to win on the road.

Game 10: [SEC] Texas A & M (22) at [WAC] Louisiana Tech (23)

Louisiana Tech (5-0) has defeated Houston, Rice, Illinois, Virginia and UNLV so far this season. They are undefeated.

The game on Saturday is a makeup game postponed from August 30 when their game with Texas A & M (4-1) was interrupted by a hurricane.

Since then the Bulldogs have been waging a storm of their own, leading the WAC even though they have not played a WAC opponent yet this season.

Texas A & M lost their opener against then No. 24 ranked Florida 20-17. Since then, the Aggies have been undefeated against SMU, South Carolina State, Arkansas and Ole Miss.

These are a couple of high-scoring teams and this one promises to offer plenty of action and plenty of touchdowns.

But you have to pick a ranked SEC team over a ranked WAC.  That is my opinion anyway.

Pick Texas A & M to win on the road.