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, November 14, 2012

Zultan's Fearless Football Forecast for Week 12: Alabama Down.

A seismic shift in the gridiron status quo occurred in Week 11. Alabama fell from football heaven, their dreams of repeat glory squelched by “Johnny Football” and the Texas A&M Aggies last Saturday.

In the meantime outside SEC Land, the cream of the crop in the Big East, Louisville crashed and burned at Syracuse. 

Another undefeated went belly up.

Additionally, in Iowa City, the hometown Hawkeyes had their wings clipped by the Purdue Boilermakers 27-24. Can the Hawks get any lower?  No, they are officially in the basement of the Big Ten sitting beside Illinois, waiting for this season to blow over.

Ultimately Zultan went 7-3, losing those three contests last Saturday. Some of you equaled—but none surpassed Zultan in Week 11.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, the upcoming contests this Saturday become exponentially crucial as teams pray for bowl bids. The final BCS standings await the next two round of upsets.

Here is your next to last chance to outshine the premiere Pigskin Prognosticator.

Make your picks for Week 12 to try to outguess Zultan and see your name up in lights, figuratively speaking.

Game 1: Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan State Spartans

In Big Ten Land, Northwestern (7-3, 3-3) lost to Michigan in overtime last Saturday, 38-31. It was a tough road loss for the Wildcats who kept pace with the Wolverines step for step throughout the game. The loss left Northwestern down and out in Big Ten's Legends Division race.

Michigan State (5-5, 2-4) had a week off after losing a nail biter to Nebraska 28-24 at home. The Spartans always play close but loses just as often as they win sitting with a 5-5 record.

This Spartan team had its chances to excel but could not take the last step week after week. Michigan State still needs a win just to reach bowl eligibility.  It promises to be another tough one in East Lansing. Nonetheless...

Pick Michigan State to win at home.

Game 2: Iowa Hawkeyes at (21) Michigan Wolverines
The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-6, 2-4, Big Ten) get to finish this less-than-stellar year playing Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday followed by hosting the Nebraska Cornhuskers the day after Thanksgiving.

A real treat for Hawkeye fans everywhere—pardon Zultan’s sarcasm. 

Overall, Iowa is young. They will learn their lessons from this season and come back in 2013 ready to take their place along with the rest of the conference—back in the thick of the Big Ten race with a better understanding of what it takes to win.

In the meantime, Michigan (7-3, 5-1) has a real chance to win out and contend for the top spot in the Legends Division. The Wolverines must hope that someone else defeats Nebraska because the Michigan lost their head-to-head contest with the Cornhuskers who continue to control their own destiny.

Pick Michigan to win at home.

Game 3: Indiana Hoosiers at Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State (6-4, 4-2) made it a real contest against Nebraska last Saturday—for the first three quarters. But then, the Cornhuskers pulled away in the final fifteen as Taylor Martinez and crew wore out the Penn State defense. The Huskers won 32-23.

After back to back wins over Illinois and Iowa. Indiana (4-6, 2-4) fell hard in Week 11 to Wisconsin,  62-14.  That was a true reality check for the Hoosiers who hoped to make their way to bowl eligibility after two wins in a row.  Now Indiana must defeat both Penn State and Purdue for the miracle to happen.  There will, however, be no Cinderella moment in Happy Valley.

Pick Penn State to win at home.

Game 4: Minnesota Golden Gophers at (14) Nebraska Cornhuskers

Minnesota (6-4, 2-4, Big Ten) became bowl eligible last Saturday by defeating Illinois on the road.  The Gophers have not gone bowling since 2009. Jerry Kill and staff are making real progress in Minneapolis.

It is a good thing Minnesota had that feel good moment last Saturday because they probably will not be able to celebrate after their trip to Lincoln where the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-2, 5-1) traditionally treat guests badly.

Pick Nebraska to win at home.

Game 5: Ohio State Buckeyes at Wisconsin Badgers

This is one of the more intriguing of the Big Ten match-ups this Saturday.

Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2) returns to the conversation after pummeling the Indiana Hoosiers last Saturday. But, let’s face it. That does not really tell us much.

While the Badgers tend to play better at home, Indiana did not put up much resistance on defense. The Badger running backs trampled the Hoosiers. We expected as much—even the score pile on.

Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) ironically remains perfect in the 2012 season. Even though they cannot play in the postseason, the Buckeyes are being filled with Glory-ade by Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. So far so good...

Pick Ohio State to win on the road.

Game 6: Purdue Boilermakers at Illinois Fighting Illini
Purdue (4-6, 1-5) won their first Big Ten game of the season last Saturday by upending the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

The win may have saved Purdue Coach Danny Hope’s job at the helm of the Boilers. Certainly, if Purdue wins this Saturday on the road at Illinois, Hope will survive for another season in West Lafayette.

Their task of becoming bowl eligible is helped by the Boilers’ remaining games against winless Illinois this Saturday plus their last game of the regular season at home against Indiana. They could actually win both.

Illinois (2-8, 0-6) has watched their inaugural season under new coach Tim Beckman spiral down the drain. The Illini offense continues to sputter and their defense reacts too late. 

There will be time to retool and simplify for 2013.  In the meantime...

Pick Purdue to win on the road.

Game 7: (13) Stanford Cardinal at (2) Oregon Ducks

Out in PAC-12 Land the Ducks have to be quacking up—joyous that Alabama lost, paving the way for Oregon (10-0, 7-0) to play in the BCS National Championship Game. 

But, it is a dangerous spot for low flying birds. The Ducks must still face a ranked Stanford team this Saturday as well as ranked instate rival Oregon State in the final regular season game.  Additionally, the Ducks have some key defensive players hurt.

The true incentive remains—a win for the Ducks might move them to the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings.

Stanford (8-2, 6-1) needs to win this game to try to keep pace in PAC-12 North Division and pray that Oregon State can knock off the Ducks. Stanford is coming off a win over the Beavers 27-23 last Saturday.  Next week the Cardinal will be the Beavers biggest fans if Stanford can will this week in Eugene.  But it will not happen.

Pick Oregon to win at home.

Game 8: (18) USC Trojans at (17) UCLA Bruins

This is another Big Game in the PAC-12 South with the Division Title on the line.  USC (8-2, 5-2), whose pre-season expectations exceeded their capabilities, have lost to Stanford on the road, to Arizona on the road and to Oregon at home so far this season. Last Saturday they defeated Arizona State 38-17 at the Coliseum.

UCLA (8-2, 5-2) has lost to Oregon State 27-20 at home and at Cal 43-17.  The Bruins have won their last four games. Two of their wins have come over ranked teams including No. 16 Nebraska and No. 22 Arizona.

The game will be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The oddsmakers favor the Trojans by 3. It is a tough call. But Zultan is no chicken.

Pick UCLA to win at home.

Game 9: (23) Texas Tech Red Raiders at (24) Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State (6-3, 4-2, Big 12) has a lot of football remaining with three games looming on their schedule. The one on Saturday will be played in Stillwater against Texas Tech—a team the Cowboys plundered last year 66-6.  It will not be the same kind of game this year.

This year the Cowboys have three losses—to Kansas State, Texas and Arizona.  Their swagger has been buried by the dust of defeat.

Texas Tech (7-3, 4-3) won their first four games, finally falling to earth when they faced Oklahoma in Lubbock—losing 41-20. Then they lost to Texas and to Kansas State.  The Red Raiders managed to get by lowly Kansas in OT last Saturday, escaping with a 41-34 victory.

Playing on the road, Texas Tech will not escape this time.

Pick Oklahoma State to win at home.

Game 10: (12) Oklahoma Sooners at West Virginia Mountaineers

The Oklahoma Sooners (7-2, 5-1) get to travel to Morgantown to face the dejected West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4).  West Virginia’s season sank after shooting out to a  5-0 season start.

West Virginia, however, has now lost their last five games and are seriously wondering about their decision to leave the cozy confines of the Big East Conference. 

New head coach Dana Holgorsen has left something out of the Mountaineers game plan it seems.  Once the season ends, it will be back to the drawing board for the Mountaineers’ coaching staff.

In fact, West Virginia must eke out another win to become bowl eligible.  The Big 12 has become a true test under fire for the Mountaineers.

Meanwhile Oklahoma fans regard the season as a failure because the Sooners are not in  contention for the National Championship.  Oklahoma has lost two games this season to Kansas State and to Notre Dame.  They have one loss in the Big 12 but will, undoubtedly, come in second to Kansas State.

They will, however, win this game on Saturday.

Pick Oklahoma to win on the road.

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