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

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