2022 Sammy Awards – Part 1

Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the 2022 Sammy Awards!! It has been a tradition here since 2010 for us to welcome a new year by saying a fond farewell to the old year. We look back at the key moments, people, & topics that made the past 12 months what they were. We celebrate the highlights & allow ourselves to lament the lowlights. A wise teacher once said “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”, and we believe it is good to remember what happened and give those stories kudos or derision…whichever is appropriate. So sit back, grab some popcorn & your beverage of choice, and enjoy the world’s most irreverent fake awards show!! 

To host the festivities it is our pleasure to welcome one of our most underrated comedians. He has received multiple Grammy nominations, is known for working clean, and offers low key, relatable observations on topics with which we are all familiar. Please welcome to the stage Jim Gaffigan!!

After some hilarious opening comments from our host it is time to hand out some hardware!! To do the honors we are excited to welcome a beloved actor from the 1970s. He starred in one of the few romantic dramas about a blind ice skater, the 1978 classic Ice Castles, as well as Ode to Billy Joe, in which he hurls himself off a bridge after having sex with Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard. Give a rousing ovation for the very much alive (who knew??) Robby Benson!! And the nominees are:

Favorite TV Show

The World According to Jeff Goldblum 

Quirky actor Goldblum returned to Disney+ with fresh episodes examining topics like dogs, fireworks, & motorcycles. He doesn’t necessarily break new ground on these subjects, but does approach them from a distinct perspective. 

General Hospital

Yes, I still watch “my stories” (as my grandmothers used to call them). However, not only are there only four soap operas remaining, just one feels worthy of recognition. I’ve been a fan of GH since the early 80s, and still look forward to watching it whenever time permits (which is often enough since I have no life {I’m “producing” a fake awards show for God’s sake}). 

Cobra Kai 

The 4th season was released on NY’s Eve 2021, and in a pleasant surprise Season 5 came along just months later in September 2022. It’s still a compelling story for those old enough to have enjoyed the Karate Kid films back in the day, and I suppose it’s a good enough show to have attracted younger fans not as familiar with the movies. That being said, it feels like the upcoming season (which may not arrive for another year) should be the end unless they do some sort of time jump. It’s more difficult to get away with having 20-somethings portray high school students than it used to be. 

The Santa Clauses

This was a nice little holiday treat. Tim Allen returned for a six episode series on Disney+ in which Santa Claus (fka Scott Calvin) decides to retire, chooses a successor, and things go awry. Y’all should check it out while you’re still in the holiday spirit.

WWE Raw/NXT/Smackdown 

Am I as big of a wrestling fan as I used to be?? No. I ponder the question of whether the product just isn’t as captivating as it was in the heyday of Hulk Hogan & Ric Flair or The Rock & “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, or if perhaps I’m just not the same person I was in my youth. Either way, I still watch the shows, but don’t find them as interesting as I did once upon a time. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

General Hospital. For the second year in a row consistency wins. I still haven’t totally bought into the whole streaming thing, and I’m not sure I ever will. I like having new episodes to look forward to. I don’t really enjoy binging everything in a few days then having to wait months for my next fix. GH continues to be well written with a great cast. It may not be your cup o’ tea and that’s okay, but having grown up with the show the fine folks in Port Charles, NY almost seem like family. Dysfunctional?? Sure, but that’s fine. 

To present our next award we are happy to have two characters that underwent a bit of a makeover in 2022. In an effort to be inclusive or whatever…some kind of PC bullsquat…Green M&M was stripped of her lip gloss, high heeled boots, & long eyelashes, and instead given sneakers & a plain face, apparently to appease female gym teachers & golfers on the LPGA Tour. Not to be outdone, Disney decided to toss Minnie Mouse’s iconic red polka dot dress and pander to Hillary Clinton voters by putting Minnie in an unflattering black & blue pantsuit. We don’t play those kind of silly games here at The Sammys. We love women & embrace femininity, so we are happy to welcome to the stage OG Green M&M and Minnie Mouse!! And the nominees are:

Favorite App

Words with Friends 

Full disclosure…I became bored by Words in the latter half of 2022. I’m pretty sure that the plethora of challenges I received daily were from bots rather than real people, and I decided to step away for awhile. I’ll probably return soon enough. 

Instagram 

In less than three years I have posted over 12k memes on Insta. It’s usually the first thing I do when I wake up. Weird?? Kind of sad?? Yes & yes, but atleast I’m honest.

Amazon Music 

I’d rather listen to music than watch television most of the time. I am very moody when it comes to the tunes I enjoy. What I’m into might change on a daily basis. However, I’ve never been unable to find what I’m looking for on Amazon Music. It’s $10/month well spent.

Pic Stitch 

I take a lot of photos whenever I attend a social event. I might take a hundred pics but end up with 35 good ones by the time I filter out blurry or repetitive shots. This app allows me to be even more efficient by stitching together two or more photos so that out of the original 100 I end up posting maybe 15 or 20 to social media. 

TextArt

I’ve segued into creating my own memes!! Sometimes I see a quote I like or an existing meme that just seems too busy, so I take the basic concept & create a better version the way I want it. Perhaps I missed my calling as a graphic designer. 

Air Brush 

I see memes or picture quotes all the time that just need something unnecessary erased out of them. It’s not always as tight & precise as I’d prefer, but it is usually adequate for my purposes. 

Infinity 8 Ball

I went thru my Spades phase, but now I’ve moved on to billiards. Thus far I’ve played over 1400 games and have fallen just below a 60% win rate. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

Amazon Music. After being nominated a couple of times in the past Amazon Music finally earns the prize. You may use Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, iHeart Radio, or any of the plethora of music apps available, and that’s cool. I’m sure they’re all great. For me Amazon has been a reliable & functional tool that’s become an indispensable part of daily life.

To present our next two awards it is a pleasure to welcome a former NFL punter and current ESPN & WWE commentator whose charisma & liveliness infuses any program he’s part of with more of an energy boost than you’ll get from the entire Starbucks menu combined. Get up on your feet for the inimitable Pat McAfee!! And the nominees are:

The Thrill of Victory Award

Georgia’s National Title

In January the Georgia Bulldogs destroyed Alabama to claim their third National Championship. They’ll have an opportunity to add to the trophy case soon. 

The Super Rams

On February 13, 2022 the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals to win their second Lombardi Trophy.

Golden St. Is Golden Again  

After a couple of lean years the Warriors returned to the top of the mountain in 2022, defeating the Boston Celtics in six games to win their 7th NBA title and the fourth since 2015.

LIV Golf

Don’t look now golf fans, but the PGA Tour has some competition. It is in its infancy & needs better television deals, but stalwarts like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, & Dustin Johnson joined up, seduced by huge money & shorter tournaments with no cuts.

Kansas Wins The Madness 

It was a Battle of Bluebloods when the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels to win their fourth National Championship. 

Novak Djokovic

Still one of the top tennis players in the world, Djokovic won at Wimbledon for the 4th consecutive year.

and the Sammy goes to…..

Los Angeles Rams. They couldn’t follow up this season, but on that February night in their home stadium the Rams rose to the occasion late in the 4th quarter. It was nice to see QB Matthew Stafford achieve success after a dismal decade+ in Detroit.

He’s just so damn entertaining that we asked Pat McAfee to stick around & hand out the next prize as well. It looks like he’s made himself comfortable. And the nominees are:

The Agony of Defeat Award

Big Ben’s Retirement

After 18 years as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger was gently pushed into retirement. His arm strength had noticeably diminished & his unique escapability had virtually disappeared with no help from a porous offensive line, but the disappointment of his last couple of seasons doesn’t detract from a memorable Hall of Fame career. 

Antonio Brown 

We’ve known for awhile that the former Steelers wide receiver is mentally unstable. After an acrimonious departure from Pittsburgh a few years ago Brown bounced around a bit before seeming to find a soft landing spot in Tampa. He even won a Super Bowl ring with the Buccaneers. However, that relationship crashed & burned late in the 2021 season, with our last image that of Brown taking off his jersey & leaving in the midst of a game. Since then he has engaged in sophomoric online shenanigans implying he’s been gettin’ busy with Tom Brady’s now ex-wife and been accused of domestic violence as well as improper conduct toward a woman in Dubai. 

The Olympics 

Another year, another Olympic Games no one cared about. This time it was in Beijing, China. I would literally rather sit in a dark room staring into space than watch the Winter Olympics in Communist China with no spectators in the stands because of a disease they created. Actually I probably did some of that while this was going on.

MLB Lockout 

The start of the baseball season was delayed by a week thanks to yet another disagreement between owners & players. Two notable outcomes: universal DH & an expanded playoff format. Designated hitters became a thing for National League teams in 2022, which I hate. I always liked that there were differences between the American League &  National League. Both leagues also added an extra wildcard team to the playoff bracket, which I didn’t mind.

Coach K’s Swan Song 

In 4+ decades as the head basketball coach for the Duke Blue Devils Mike Krzyzewski won more than 1000 games, 15 ACC tournament titles, and 5 National Championships. His teams made the NCAA Tournament nearly every year & played in 13 Final Fours. Coach K also won three Olympic gold medals. He’d announced before the 2021-22 season that it would be his last, and the Blue Devils won 32 games. Unfortunately they lost Coach K.’s home finale to North Carolina, lost the ACC title game to Virginia Tech, and fell once again in the Final Four to the Tar Heels. I’m a sucker for storybook endings and was pulling for him to finish on top.

Phil Mickelson 

All the sudden my man Phil has become the black sheep of golf. It started with his controversial defection to LIV Golf last spring, accompanied by disparaging comments about PGA leadership. Mickelson skipped The Masters & the PGA Championship. At age 52 & clearly past his prime I can’t be too hard on the guy for being seduced by the huge money & reduced schedule offered by LIV, but it may have cost him the legacy he’d built during a fantastic three decade+ career. 

Brady’s Gone!! Nevermind, He’s Back 😖

Y’all know I despise Tom Brady. He’s like an evil serial killer in a slasher movie that won’t freakin’ die!! I thought our long nightmare was finally over when Brady announced his retirement back in February. Remember the Bible story about Jesus battling Satan in the desert for 40 days?? Imagine if Satan had won. That’s what it felt like when Brady ended his retirement after 40 days. Yes…he did that, and you can’t convince me it wasn’t on purpose. His decision proved costly, as he ended up divorced, but on the bright side (atleast for him) he’s led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the playoffs, and if the dude wins yet another damn Super Bowl I might just have to look into this soccer thing. 

Washington Commanders 

After years of pressure from the PC Police the Redskins nickname was finally scrapped a few years ago. After that they were awkwardly known as the Washington Football Team for a couple of seasons because apparently it’s harder to name a sports franchise than anyone realized, even though this change was on the cusp of happening for a long time. At any rate, the powers-that-be narrowed the field down to a few choices, including Armada, Brigade, and Defenders. Commanders is better than any of those, although I preferred Red Wolves.

Flores’ Lawsuit 

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL in February alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices & that Dolphins’ ownership had asked him to tank games to get higher draft picks. To my knowledge the suit has not been resolved, but Flores landed with the Steelers as a defensive assistant (they should elevate him to defensive coordinator).

LIV Golf

Don’t look now golf fans, but the PGA Tour has some competition. The problem?? It is funded by the rulers of Saudi Arabia, a country well known for human rights violations & other nefarious activities, in a transparent PR attempt to change the narrative. Think of Michael Corleone trying to make The Family legitimate by giving a bunch of money to The Vatican in The Godfather Part III. Same kind of thing, only without murder & mayhem (we hope). 

Novak Djokovic

While it is true that Djokovic won Wimbledon for the fourth straight year, he was unfortunately prohibited from competing in the Australian Open & U.S. Open due to draconian & misguided Covid restrictions. He stood strong in his steadfast refusal to get “vaccinated”, a decision that cost him some money but perhaps saved his life.

and the Sammy goes to…..

LIV Golf.  Is it a real threat to the PGA Tour?? I don’t think so. I am reminded of the original USFL, which briefly seemed like a solid alternative to the NFL. They too made a big splash by signing Heisman Trophy winners Hershel Walker, Doug Flutie, and Mike Rozier, as well as QBs Jim Kelly & Steve Young. But the USFL made some missteps & only lasted a few seasons. LIV has wooed enough PGA stalwarts to grab our attention, and there’s certainly enough cash behind the effort. However, I’ll be surprised if the whole thing is anything more than a memory five years from now.

To present our next award we are pleased to welcome one of the most underrated actors of his generation. He has appeared in blockbuster films like Ghostbusters, Crocodile Dundee, and Turner & Hooch, and is a beloved holiday icon who played a pivotal part in saving hundreds of lives on Christmas Eve in Die Hard. He then went on to star in one of the most cherished sitcoms of the 1990’s, Family Matters, a show that might’ve only lasted a month instead of airing for nine breathtakingly hilarious seasons if not for his star power & skills as an actor. It is indeed an honor to welcome Reginald VelJohnson to present a very special tribute.

Duffer-Herrell Lifetime Achievement Award 

Bruce Willis 

Moonlighting.

The Christmas classic Die Hard (and it’s plethora of sequels). 

Look Who’s Talking

Striking Distance.

Armageddon.

The Whole Nine Yards.

Those episodes of Friends when he ended up dating Rachel.

That album he put out in the late 80s.

Bruce Willis has done a little bit of everything in his amazing career spanning more than four decades. Sadly that journey seems to be over, as it was announced back in March that he is retiring due to aphasia, which is an inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions. Willis is 67 years old, which in the 21st century means we thought we had many more years to enjoy new performances. I had even read rumors of one final Die Hard, which would’ve been great, especially if it was a good movie on the same level as the first three. Sadly that won’t be happening. Of course in the grand scheme of things that’s not really important. Bruce Willis is still alive, and that’s what matters to his loved ones. For the rest of us we’ll always have his body of work. Is he the greatest actor that ever graced the big screen?? No, but who cares?? Years from now our grandchildren will be telling their grandchildren about a decent actor who made a memorable impression and entertained millions. Each December, along with George Bailey, Ebenezer Scrooge, Ralphie Parker, and The Whos down in Whoville, Detective John McClane will continue to be a key player in Christmas celebrations everywhere. That’s a damn fine legacy, and for that The Sammys are proud to recognize the contributions of Bruce Willis to popular culture. 

This seems like a good place to pause. Please stay tuned for Part 2 of the 2022 Sammy Awards. 

2022-23 COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL-A-PALOOZA (Part Deux)

I haven’t been keeping close track of the early results, but I don’t think I’ve been doing too well with these bowl picks. To be honest I haven’t actually watched many games thus far, and it’s not because I’m super busy…I am not. Perhaps the latter half of the slate will hold more interest for me. I hope The Manoverse had a very Merry Christmas, and whatever you have planned for New Year’s festivities be safe, end 2022 on a high note, and turn the page with hope, faith, kindness, and a renewed spirit.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28

Military Bowl
Duke vs. Central Florida 
2pm/ESPN – Annapolis, MD

Everyone knows Duke is a basketball school, but the football team has done fairly well in recent years. They come into this game 8-4, having won three out of their last four. The Knights are 9-4 but got blasted in the AAC title game. I have always opined that UCF is a sleeping giant, something they’ll have an opportunity to prove when they join the Big 12. This could be a sneaky good game, and I think UCF prevails. Conversely, Zach believes the Blue Devils will win easily. 

My Pick: UCF

Zach’s Pick: Duke 

Liberty Bowl
Arkansas vs. Kansas
5:30pm/ESPN – Memphis, TN

I see what the cunning linguist bowl organizers did here!! I’m actually low key excited about this one. The Jayhawks started out hot at 5-0, but faded fast, losing six out of their last seven. The Razorbacks almost tracked the same, showing flashes of being good, but not nearly enough. I think both teams are better than the records indicate, and I think we’ll see Kansas recapture some of that early success in late December. Zach, on the other hand, sees speed as a key factor and likes Arkansas.

My Pick: Kansas

Zach’s Pick: Arkansas 

Holiday Bowl
Oregon vs. North Carolina
8pm/Fox – San Diego, CA

Perhaps the most underrated game of the postseason. The 9-3 Ducks were six total points away over two games of playing field the PAC 12 title, but of course we all know close doesn’t cut it. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels lost their final three games, including the ACC title game. I think UNC will hang tough for awhile, but look for Oregon to pull away in the 4th quarter. Zach thinks it’ll be a shootout and doesn’t have much faith in Carolina’s defense. 

My Pick: Oregon 

Zach’s Pick: Oregon 

Texas Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
9pm/ESPN – Houston, TX

I don’t know…I’m having a hard time getting juiced about two middle of the pack teams in their respective conferences facing off in the fourth game of the day. I think there will be alot of scoring (definitely take the over), but ultimately the Red Raiders will pull away for a double digit victory. Zach thinks rumors of head coach Lane Kiffin bolting for Auburn factored into them losing 4 out of 5 games down the stretch, and now that the issue has been put to rest they can focus on winning. 

My Pick: Texas Tech 

Zach’s Pick: Ole Miss 

THURSDAY, DEC. 29

Pinstripe Bowl
Minnesota vs. Syracuse
2pm/ESPN – NY, NY

It’s a matchup of two underrated teams. Three of the four Gopher losses came consecutively during a rough October, although it should be noted that they played neither Ohio St. nor Michigan. Syracuse started 6-0 before dropping five straight games. Cold weather in The Bronx shouldn’t bother either club, but ‘Cuse will have more fans in the stands. I foresee a low scoring grinder in which Minnesota controls the clock in the 4th quarter to secure a close win. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Minnesota  

Zach’s Pick: Minnesota 

Cheez-It Bowl
Florida State vs. Oklahoma
5:30pm/ESPN – Orlando, FL

Five years ago this would have been a marquee matchup. My perception is that Florida St. is a team on the rise, while Oklahoma is a team in transition. I think it’ll be a rather comfortable victory for the Seminoles. Zach feels that it’ll be close, but foresees the same outcome. 

My Pick: Florida St. 

Zach’s Pick: Florida St.

Alamo Bowl
Washington vs. Texas
9pm/ESPN – San Antonio, TX

It could be a pretty good game. Maybe. I hope. The 10-2 Huskies were back-to-back mid-season losses away from playing for the PAC 12 title, while the 8-4 Longhorns are trying to claw their way back to relevancy before heading to the SEC in the near future. Obviously the crowd will be strongly pro-Texas, but I think Washington will find a way to  snag victory from the jaws of defeat late in the contest. Zach sees Texas outscoring their opponents in a high scoring contest. 

My Pick: Washington 

Zach’s Pick: Texas 

FRIDAY, DEC. 30

Orange Bowl
Tennessee vs. Clemson
8pm/ESPN – Miami, FL

Okay, now we’re getting to the good games. Both teams coulda/woulda/shoulda been in playoff contention, but things happened & they fell short. Vols fans are probably still flummoxed by the ass whoopin’ their guys received from South Carolina in mid-November, while the 11-2 Tigers aren’t in the playoff for a second consecutive season after six straight appearances. I’d love to see Tennessee win the game, but after losing QB Hendon Hooker to a torn ACL late in the season I don’t think this one will be particularly close. Zach thinks defense & coaching are the difference makers, which favors Clemson. 

My Pick: Clemson  

Zach’s Pick: Clemson 

Duke’s Mayo Bowl
North Carolina State vs. Maryland
Noon/ESPN – Charlotte, NC

I prefer Miracle Whip, but I suppose that doesn’t matter. The 8-4 Wolfpack fell short of my expectations, while the 7-5 Terrapins get lost in the Big Ten shuffle & really should consider another conference. NC St. might have a bit of a “home” field advantage, and I  think that’ll be enough. Zach disagrees and thinks those Tagovailoa genes matter. 

My Pick: NC St.

Zach’s Pick: Maryland 

Sun Bowl
UCLA vs. Pitt
2pm/CBS – El Paso, TX

The Sun Bowl remains one of the few bowl games not controlled by the Disney Machine. UCLA comes into the game having lost 2 of the last 3 games, while the Panthers are riding a four game winning streak. Normally I’m a big momentum guy, but I think the Bruins find a way to pull this one out. Zach concurs.

My Pick: UCLA

Zach’s Pick: UCLA

Gator Bowl
South Carolina vs. Notre Dame
3:30pm/ESPN – Jacksonville, FL

I had the Gamecocks in my preseason poll, and though they are unlikely to finish in the Top 15 I believe they will be close with a victory. Certainly their wins over Clemson & especially Tennessee were impressive. The Irish haven’t been as good as I thought they’d be, but the back half of they improved in the back half of their schedule. This is what a bowl game should be…an opportunity for two teams that rarely play one another but have something to prove as they build for the future to make a statement. I see bright things ahead for South Carolina, and this could be an important moment for them. Zach, on the other hand, doesn’t think the Gamecocks have any magic left in the tank.

My Pick: South Carolina 

Zach’s Pick: Notre Dame 

Arizona Bowl
Ohio vs. Wyoming
4:30pm/Barstool – Tucson, AZ

Okay, this is weird. Apparently the game isn’t being broadcast on television at all. I am only vaguely familiar with Barstool Sports, but they’ve expanded into streaming live events now. If you’re a really big fan of either team I am sure you will be able to look around & find it, but one can assume that most casual fans won’t bother. At any rate, I think Wyoming has a more explosive offense and will score on a few big plays. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Wyoming 

Zach’s Pick: Wyoming 

SATURDAY, DEC. 31

Fiesta Bowl – Playoff Semifinal
Michigan vs. Texas Christian 
4pm/ESPN – Glendale, AZ

We made it. We’ve finally gotten to the only games that really matter. I know Zach will pick Michigan, and honestly I can’t disagree. The Horned Frogs have had a great season & deserve all kinds of kudos, but the Wolverines are really good. They have better depth & athleticism. I cannot foresee any circumstance, after falling short against Georgia a year ago, in which Michigan fails to get to the next step. To be honest I wouldn’t totally be shocked if it’s not particularly competitive, although as a football fan I’d prefer a close, exciting game. Zach has decided to be conservative and predict a Michigan victory with a late field goal.

My Pick: Michigan 

Zach’s Pick: Michigan 

Peach Bowl – Playoff Semifinal
Georgia vs. Ohio State
8pm/ESPN – Atlanta, GA

At this moment it looks like I’ll be home on New Year’s Eve, and I’ll probably be hanging with my crazy neighbor who is a big Ohio St. fan. Can they beat the defending champions?? I don’t know. Both teams are loaded with NFL caliber talent. I think I’d give the coaching edge to Georgia, but I like the Buckeyes’ QB a little better. It’s going to come down to discipline & the mental aspects of the game…turnovers, penalties, & clock management. Obviously the Bulldogs will enjoy a huge “home” field advantage. Is that enough?? I really hope this isn’t one of those disappointing games that is built up to be so fantastic only for it to be a blowout that is essentially over by halftime, although it wouldn’t shock me that much. The Buckeyes played in the 2020 National Championship but a) they lost to Alabama & b) many people thought they didn’t belong anyway because of their Covid shortened season, so perhaps they feel like they have something to prove. Not surprisingly, Zach is predicting a blowout win for Georgia.

My Pick: Ohio St.

Zach’s Pick: Georgia 

Music City Bowl
Iowa vs. Kentucky
Noon/ABC – Nashville, TN

These teams deserve more respect. First, everyone will be buzzing about the semifinal games later in the day, plus Alabama is playing on another channel at the same time, and y’all know how that goes. The 7-5 Hawkeyes had a tough stretch in October and are better than the record indicates. The 7-5 Wildcats started strong but faded fast. They’ll be without the services of QB Will Levis, who is hoping to be a Top 5 NFL Draft pick. I think Iowa controls the clock with good ol’ fashioned smashmouth football and grinds out a win. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Iowa 

Zach’s Pick: Iowa 

Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs. Kansas State
Noon/ESPN – New Orleans, LA

I’m not a gambler and haven’t researched it, but I’d almost guarantee ‘Bama is a heavy favorite and most of the “experts” aren’t giving K-St. a snowball’s chance in Hell. That’s not how I roll though. I believe the Wildcats have an opportunity to improve the collective opinion of the masses about their program and the Big 12 conference. Does that mean I think they’ll win?? No. However, don’t be surprised if the outcome is in doubt much deeper into the fourth quarter than anyone expected. Zach, though he agrees on the outcome, falls in line with the masses in predicting a huge & fairly easy Tide win. 

My Pick: Alabama 

Zach’s Pick: Alabama 

MONDAY, JAN. 2

ReliaQuest Bowl
Mississippi State vs. Illinois
Noon/ESPN2 – Tampa, FL

Because the NFL takes precedence on Sunday the traditional New Year’s Day college games are happening the next day. This was formerly known as the Hall of Fame & then the Outback Bowl. In case you are curious ReliaQuest is a cybersecurity company in Tampa. Obviously the big storyline will be the recent passing of Bulldogs coach Mike Leach, and I have to think that every football fan outside of Champaign, IL will be pulling for State. The Illini had a six game hot streak in the middle of the season but lost 3 out of their final 4. Mississippi St. is 8-4 in a roller coaster year. The X’s & O’s don’t really matter, because we all know the best outcome is a State victory in honor of Coach Leach. Zach is confident Illinois can slow the pace of the game to their comfort level & grind out a victory. 

My Pick: Mississippi St.

Zach’s Pick: Illinois 

Citrus Bowl
LSU vs. Purdue
1pm/ABC – Orlando, FL

The Bayou Bengals are unpredictable to say the least. At 9-4 they had the opportunity to win the SEC & maybe sneak into the playoff, but they also lost to 5-7 Texas A&M. Which LSU team will show up?? The Boilermakers are another overlooked Big Ten team that were never in the playoff hunt but did earn a spot in the conference title game. This has the potential to be a fantastic game, but I think LSU has the edge in speed & big play ability. Zach doesn’t think it’ll be particularly competitive.

My Pick: LSU 

Zach’s Pick: LSU 

Cotton Bowl
Southern California vs. Tulane
1pm/ESPN – Arlington, TX

The Trojans would’ve been playoff bound had they not screwed the pooch against Utah in the PAC 12 title game. Tulane has had a nice 11 win season, including an AAC Championship, but let’s be real…this might be one of the worst bowl matchups in recent memory. Southern Cal will be playing third stringers by halftime and still win by atleast three TDs. Zach agrees.

My Pick: USC 

Zach’s Pick: USC 

Rose Bowl

Utah vs. Penn State
5pm/ESPN – Pasadena, CA

I have to give the Rose Bowl credit…even in a playoff obsessed environment they’ve figured out how to remain relevant & make the game still feel like an event. Or maybe I just perceive it that way because I am of a certain age and embrace the history & pageantry of college football. It doesn’t hurt that the Big Ten & PAC 12 are deep leagues with several talented teams. Utah might be the most dangerous team out there. I guarantee none of the four playoff contenders would want to face the 10-3 Utes. The Nittany Lions won’t be intimidated though. Their only two losses were against Michigan & Ohio St., which is nothing to be ashamed of obviously. I really like Utah and believe they could be a playoff team next season, so why not get the party started early?? Zach thinks it will be close, but agrees on the outcome. 

My Pick: Utah  

Zach’s Pick: Utah 

MONDAY, JAN. 9

National Championship Game

Michigan/TCU vs. Georgia/Ohio State 
7:30pm/ESPN – Los Angeles, CA

I’m looking at a Michigan-Ohio St. matchup, while Zach thinks it will be Michigan vs. Georgia. Either way it’s going to be a tough task for the Wolverines. The Buckeyes have tremendous offensive prowess, while Georgia is an intimidating defensive force. Michigan marched into Columbus at the end of November and left with a huge 3 TD+ victory, but the stakes are much higher now. At the end of the day I’m not sure the Wolverines are there quite yet. I think they might have to wait another year to get over the hump. Surprisingly Zach agrees, although he thinks it’ll be the defending champs going back-to-back by defeating his beloved Wolverines. 

My Pick: Ohio St.  

Zach’s Pick: Georgia 

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 15

Do you want the good news or the bad news?? I suppose it doesn’t really matter, as it’s all about perspective. We were both a dismal 3-7 last week, meaning Zach maintains the season lead. It also means that I’ve fallen below .500, which doesn’t make me happy. We’re ending the college football portion of our programming with Championship Weekend, with some games occurring Friday night & some on Saturday. I am not sure how much football I’ll get to watch because this weekend begins a pretty full dance card for the entirety of December, but in contrast to being laid up in a medical facility for the Christmas season I can’t complain. 

My Season: 41-43

Zach’s Season: 43-41

C-USA Championship 

North Texas at Texas-San Antonio (-8.5)

With all due respect, I am glad my Marshall Thundering Herd escaped Conference USA, which is basically a starter pack league. That being said, I’m kind of digging this game because the teams involved have cool names. I suppose I am easily entertained. I cannot opine with any level of confidence except to say that the Roadrunners won the title a year ago & have the home field advantage. By the time this game ends on Friday night (it’s on the CBS Sports Network in case you’re interested) I expect that they will have defended their championship and overcome the Mean Green. Zach likes UTSA’s offense in a blowout that’ll be all but over by halftime. 

My Pick: UTSA 

Z’s Pick: UTSA

PAC 12 Championship

Utah vs. Southern California (-3)

It’s pretty simple for the Trojans…win & they’re in The Playoff. One would think that’d be plenty of motivation. However, don’t count out the 9-3 Utes. Granted, they backed into this game via a weird tiebreaker system despite the fact they lost to Oregon a few weeks ago, but we cannot overlook the fact that Utah actually defeated the Trojans in mid-October. That game was decided by a gutsy 2 point conversion in the final minute, and it should be noted that it was in Salt Lake City. Can they do it again on a neutral field?? I’m on the fence to be quite honest, but enjoy playoff controversy and generally lean toward the underdog, so I’m pulling for an upset, whether it’s a smart move or not. Zach predicts a shootout, but thinks USC quarterback & Heisman front runner Caleb Williams is a difference maker. 

My Pick: Utah 

Z’s Pick: USC 

MAC Championship 

Toledo (-1.5) vs. Ohio

There was a brief period of time when I occasionally enjoyed some MACtion when they’d have midweek games on ESPN, but it’s been awhile. This is a neutral site game in Detroit, so there’s no home field advantage. The 7-5 Rockets have lost their last two games, while the 9-3 Bobcats have won seven straight. It’s a Noon kickoff Saturday on ESPN, which might hook some viewers tuned into Gameday, including me. Momentum is obviously leaning toward Ohio, while the oddsmakers like Toledo. When in doubt follow the money, right?? Zach has issues with the entire state of Ohio, but he’s picking the Bobcats in a coin flip. 

My Pick: Toledo 

Z’s Pick: Ohio 

Sun Belt Championship 

Coastal Carolina at Troy (-10.5)

It ticks me off that the Herd aren’t in this game. How in the hell does a team upset Notre Dame in South Bend, then lose to Bowling Green?? My guys were also beaten by the 10-2 Trojans, who come into this game as double digit favorites on a nine game winning streak. The Chanticleers are 9-2 themselves, but could be without the services of starting QB Grayson McCall, who has been suffering from an ankle injury. Coastal got trucked by James Madison last week without McCall, so the prognosis isn’t good if he’s out again. They dominated time of possession in that game with over 40 minutes, but punted nine times & had two turnovers. Zach believes Coastal will be fired up after last week’s stunning loss, and he foresees a rebound win. 

My Pick: Troy 

Z’s Pick: Coastal Carolina 

Mountain West Championship

Fresno State at Boise State (-3.5)

We haven’t talked much about the Broncos this year, but they’re 9-3 on a three game winning streak. The 8-4 Bulldogs started slow but have won seven games in a row. It’s a 4pm Saturday kickoff on Fox, and unfortunately I probably won’t get to see the 4th quarter. Will the contest be decided by then?? Probably not, but I like Boise to come out on top on the infamous blue turf. Zach thinks it’ll be a low scoring defensive struggle, with the home team getting a close victory. 

My Pick: Boise St.

Z’s Pick: Boise St. 

AAC Championship 

Central Florida at Tulane (-3)

The American is another conference that doesn’t hold their title game on a neutral field, which makes it feel like a second rate rematch. The 10-2 Green Wave lost to the 9-3 Knights just a few weeks ago. That game was also in New Orleans, so I don’t know why anyone would expect a different outcome this time. Zach is expecting another competitive contest, but also thinks the outcome will be the same. 

My Pick: UCF 

Z’s Pick: UCF 

Big Ten Championship 

Purdue vs. Michigan (-16.5)

I’m not sure what to think about this one. The undefeated Wolverines are clearly a better team and will secure a spot in The Playoff with a victory. Even with a loss…unless they are inexplicably blown out…I expect Michigan is in the Final Four, although that’s certainly not a guarantee. Having said that, Indianapolis is only an hour away from the 8-4 Boilermakers’ home base, so they might enjoy a slight “home field” advantage. Michigan put so much into defeating Ohio St. last week that this becomes a classic trap game. Throw in the questionable health of RB Blake Corum & a two TDs+ point spread, and all the sudden the picture becomes somewhat murky. Of course the Wolverines rushing attack looked just fine a week ago, with sophomore Donovan Edwards averaging over 9 yards/carry on his way to over 200 yards & two touchdowns. Still, the fact is that the favorites just need to win…they don’t need to win big. So what if they’re up 15-20 points in the fourth quarter & the defense is playing well?? Could they take their foot off the gas just enough for Purdue to cover?? That’s what I’m predicting. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Purdue

Z’s Pick: Purdue 

ACC Championship 

Clemson (-7.5) vs. North Carolina 

I knew it. When ranking Clemson 11th in my preseason poll I said “will they be back in the playoff picture this season…I don’t think so….the only shot Clemson has is to go undefeated in convincing fashion & lay a smackdown on Notre Dame in South Bend”. Instead, the Tigers lost by three TDs to the Irish, were narrowly defeated by in-state rival South Carolina last weekend, and sit 9th in the ranking, just about where I predicted. But…are the 9-3 Tar Heels worthy competition?? Charlotte is a truly neutral site & both teams are coming off losses, so essentially it comes down to coaching & talent. As much as I respect UNC coach Mack Brown I believe Dabo Swinney is better right now, and he has superior talent. Zach likes Carolina to keep it close & atleast cover in a high scoring shootout.

My Pick: Clemson 

Z’s Pick: North Carolina 

Big 12 Championship 

Kansas State vs. Texas Christian (-2.5)

The unbeaten Horned Frogs have more riding on this game than perhaps any other team playing this weekend. If they win they’ll be in The Playoff, but I am not at all confident in their chances of being amongst the Final Four with a loss. Let’s face it…the powers-that-be are chomping at the bit for an excuse to insert Ohio St. or Alabama back into the mix. Meanwhile, with everyone’s attention focused on Fort Worth, TX, the 9-3 Wildcats have quietly put together a pretty solid season. I think this will be a hell of a game for awhile. Much like Michigan, TCU just has to win…they don’t need to blow away the competition. The difference is the points are negligible in this one. When the two teams met back in October TCU score a comfortable ten point victory. It might be a little tighter this time, but I expect a similar outcome. Zach agrees. 

My Pick: TCU

Z’s Pick: TCU

SEC Championship

LSU vs. Georgia (-17.5)

LSU is a confusing team. They began the season with a surprising loss to Florida St. in New Orleans, then won a few games before getting demolished by Tennessee at home. They beat Alabama, but finished the season losing to a Texas A&M team that couldn’t even achieve bowl eligibility. Conversely, the #1 Bulldogs have cruised thru an unblemished schedule, unless you want to hold an early October scrape against Missouri that wasn’t decided until late in the 4th quarter against them. They call this a “neutral” field, but I’m pretty sure most of the 75k people on hand in Atlanta will be leaning a certain way. However, a couple of things must be considered. First, Georgia has played in five SEC title games since 2017 and won only once. Secondly, they are going to The Playoff no matter what, it’s just a matter of seeding. All things considered, I believe the points are simply too much. I wouldn’t be shocked by an outright Bayou Bengals victory, but the more likely scenario is that LSU plays balls to the wall, Georgia rests most of their starters in the second half, and the favorites end up winning by less than ten points. Conversely, Zach doesn’t believe it’ll be any different than most other games on Georgia’s schedule, and thinks they’ll win handily. 

My Pick: LSU

Z’s Pick: Georgia 

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 10

Congratulations to Zach for his stellar 4-1 record last week, although I did best him in a couple fantasy leagues we’re in, so I guess there’s balance in The Force or something. At any rate, I’ve got to focus because not only are we doing a Thursday night game this week, but we are doing bonus picks because the schedule is just that damn good. Happy Halloween Manoverse!! Eat lots of candy & maybe chase someone with a machete. Whatever gets your juices flowing. 

My Season: 29-22

Zach’s Season: 28-23

Arkansas (-4.5) at Auburn 

Whether we like it or not, SEC matchups are compelling. I think it’s the way the games are produced on TV, combined with the fact that most SEC games seem to be sold out stadiums of 75-100k people who are REALLY invested in the outcome. So it really doesn’t matter that these two teams are occupying the cellar of their division & have no shot at catching up to Alabama or LSU. The Tigers are on a three game losing skid, while the Razorbacks are coming off a bye week after beating BYU. Logic & most metrics seem to point to a comfortable victory for the favorites, but The Voices are pushing me to go with the home team. Zach expects a tight defensive struggle, and he thinks Arkansas is a better team.

My Pick: Auburn 

Z’s Pick: Arkansas

Cincinnati (-1) at Central Florida 

Honestly I haven’t paid much attention to these teams this season, but research indicates the Bearcats are 6-1 & still ranked, while the Knights are 5-2 & just got shellacked by East Carolina. Call me crazy, but I think The Bounce House in Orlando is a pretty hostile place to visit, and I’m smelling an upset. Zach concurs.

My Pick: UCF

Z’s Pick: UCF 

Michigan State at Michigan (-22.5)

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. The Spartans are 3-4, while the Wolverines are undefeated & still in the playoff conversation. I realize statistics & common sense are oftentimes thrown out the window in a rivalry game, but come on…Michigan is winning on Saturday. The only question is whether or not they’ll cover the points, and I’m just not comfortable with 3+ TDs. Despite being a huge Michigan fan Zach is on the same page…those points are simply too much. 

My Pick: Michigan St.

Z’s Pick: Michigan St.

Ohio State (-15) at Penn State

The Buckeyes are undefeated & ranked #2 in the nation. The Nittany Lions only have one loss to Michigan and still have an outside shot at the Big Ten title if they win this game. I suppose “style points” are still a thing in the current playoff format, so going into Happy Valley & trucking the opposition is a reasonable goal for Ohio St. Can they accomplish that goal?? A huge part of me wants to pull the trigger on that, but I just can’t. Perhaps they’ll win by 10…but not 15. As a Michigan fan Zach of course can’t stand Ohio St., although he admits they might be the best team in the country, specifically pointing out that opposing teams have been unable to stop them in the red zone. It’s a head vs. heart thing for him, and sometimes the heart wins. 

My Pick: Penn St.

Z’s Pick: Penn St. 

Florida at Georgia (-22)

I’m still calling it The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, even if pansy ass sports broadcasters & advertisers have backed away from it. At any rate, the Bulldogs have been the best team in college football so far, while the Gators are a pedestrian 4-3. Here we go again…the outcome isn’t in much doubt, but can the favorites cover?? If the game were being played in The Swamp I’d envision a fairly competitive contest, but it’s not so I think Georgia wins by four touchdowns. Zach agrees. 

My Pick: Georgia 

Z’s Pick: Georgia 

Baltimore (-1.5) at Tampa Bay 

This is the Thursday night game & the reason I am feverishly crafting this opus of awesomeness right now. I’ve been waiting for Tom Brady to fall off a cliff for longer than I care to admit, and it looks like it could finally be happening. Of course he’s been harder to put down than Freddie, Jason, & Michael combined, so I’m not assuming anything just yet. The Ravens haven’t been all that & a bag of chips either (dear God…did I just say that?!?!? 👀), although they do lead their division. This game puts me in a weird spot because I’d prefer to see both teams lose. Obviously that won’t happen though, so my sense is that Brady will get his shit together for a national audience & his home crowd. Zach recognizes that the Bucs seem to be spiraling, but he doesn’t think Baltimore is that much better. He feel like this may be the beginning of a turnaround for Tampa. 

My Pick: Tampa Bay 

Z’s Pick: Tampa Bay 

San Francisco (-2) at LA Rams 

You may have heard that the Niners just traded for RB Christian McCaffrey. I’m hesitant to give too much weight to that though…it’s only Thursday so it is entirely possible that Run CMC ends up injured before Sunday. Anyway, the NFC West is as tight as I knew it would be, which makes this game rather important. Kudos to ‘Frisco for addressing a need, but at the end of the day I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference to anyone other than fantasy owners, and I think the Rams are a better team. Zach is looking for the Stafford to Cupp connection to be huge for the Rams. 

My Pick: LA Rams 

Z’s Pick: LA Rams 

Green Bay at Buffalo (-11.5)

While I’ve been praying for the wheels to fall off Brady for years I am a little surprised that Aaron Rodgers is apparently following him into the abyss. I knew the loss of receiver Davante Adams would have an effect, but I expected young guys to step up & keep the Packers on top. That has not happened. Conversely, the Bills are humming along atop the AFC East as expected. It’s Super Bowl or bust for Buffalo, but I suppose defeating Rodgers along the way would be nice for Josh Allen. That being said, we’re back to our apparent theme for the day…can the favorite cover double digit points?? Three months ago I wouldn’t have thought so, but Green Bay has not shown me any reason to believe in them. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Buffalo 

Z’s Pick: Buffalo 

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 2

The season hasn’t even really begun and I’m already in a hole. Kudos to Zach, who pretty much nailed almost every game last week in going 4-1, while I struggled to a 1-4 mark. I watched as much as I could of a couple of games, but had other things going on. This weekend is pretty much the same. I’ll catch some of the early action, then head to our local Italian Heritage Festival Saturday night. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. There are a few intriguing matchups, and some potential playoff contenders could have their hopes negatively impacted right off the bat. I know there are fans that don’t particularly care for the College Football Playoff, but one positive byproduct has been marquee games in the first week or two. Teams can no longer get away with destroying glorified high school opponents by five touchdowns for the first three weeks of the season and hope to impress voters, and fans are the winners. 

My Season: 1-4

Zach’s Season: 4-1

West Virginia at Pitt (-7)

The Backyard Brawl returns from hiatus after a decade+ (thanks conference realignment 🙄) and I’m pretty psyched. The Panthers are coming off a successful 2021 campaign in which they won the ACC Championship & went 11-3. USC transfer Kedon Slovis takes over the quarterbacking duties from new Steelers backup Kenny Pickett, but wide receiver Jordan Addison (who transferred to USC…the carousel is redonkulous) will be more difficult to replace. My Mountaineers are entering their fourth year under head coach Neal Brown, and if he wants fans to continue to “trust the climb” we’re going to need to see some progress. We understand that going undefeated, winning the Big 12, and being a legit playoff contender is not something to be expected, but winning 8 or 9 games shouldn’t feel as out of reach as it has the past few seasons. Georgia transfer QB JT Daniels will be under center, so if the offensive line has improved and the defense is solid there is reason for optimism. We’ll see. This is a Thursday night game on ESPN. Zach has confidence in Slovis & thinks WVU consistently falls short in big games. 

My Pick: West Virginia 

Z’s Pick: Pitt 

Cincinnati at Arkansas (-6.5)

The Bearcats had nine players drafted into the NFL, including five picks in the Top 100. Replacing that amount of talent won’t be easy, so I don’t expect them to be nearly as successful. Conversely, the Razorbacks won nine games a year ago after a few lean seasons, and I believe they’ll maintain that. Certainly playing in the SEC is a brutal task, making it all the more vital that they win non-conference battles. They have the home field in Fayetteville and I think it’ll be a solid victory.  Conversely, Zach doesn’t foresee Cincy falling off that much from last season’s success & thinks they’ll score the close win this week. 

My Pick: Arkansas 

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati 

Utah (-2.5) at Florida 

I assume it is rare for a visiting team to be favored at The Swamp. Many “experts” believe Utah can contend for the PAC 12 title, and I agree. Actually, I think they can do even better. That being said, if the Utes want to make a statement and put themselves in the playoff conversation right off the bat they must seize this opportunity. The Gators have been on a downward trend the past couple of seasons and made a change last November. Can new head coach Billy Napier, who was 40-12 in four seasons at Louisiana, right the ship?? The SEC is a huge step up from the Sun Belt, but this is a big test even before Napier gets to the conference grind. Perhaps he’ll be successful in the long run, but I don’t foresee things beginning too well. Zach likes Utah’s superior team speed to lead them to victory. 

My Pick: Utah 

Z’s Pick: Utah 

Oregon at Georgia (-17.5)

Credit where it is due…the defending champion Bulldogs aren’t taking the easy way out to begin the new season. The Ducks were 10-4 a year ago & played in the PAC 12 title game. However, head coach Dan Lanning is new in town after former coach Mario Cristobal moved on to the Miami Hurricanes. What makes this matchup interesting is that Lanning spent the past three seasons as Georgia’s defensive coordinator. The champs return 13 starters, but lost 15 players to the NFL, including a record breaking five defensive players in the first round. Most of the time when we see those kind of numbers I assume a total rebuild is happening and have few expectations for that team, but I don’t feel that way about Georgia. I believe they’ll contend for another national championship & be as good or better than last season. Admittedly the points scare me a little, but this is a fantastic chance for Georgia to make a statement & show that they’re here to stay. Zach concurs, opining that Georgia’s size & experience in big games will make the difference. 

My Pick: Georgia 

Z’s Pick: Georgia 

Notre Dame at Ohio State (-17)

The Buckeyes have been consistent playoff contenders since the new system began in 2014, but only have two appearances & one national title to show for it. Will anything short of hoisting the big gold trophy on January 9 be a failure?? I think it just might be. The Irish are one of college football’s most fabled programs, but they haven’t won a national title since 1988. They’ve appeared in the playoff twice, losing in the semifinal both times. I realize Ohio St. has the home field, but it is strange seeing Notre Dame as a double digit underdog. I have good vibes about new head coach Marcus Freeman and believe he’ll lead his team back to prominence one day…but not this day. As a die hard Michigan fan Zach rarely has any positive opinions about Ohio St., so he’s picking Notre Dame to atleast cover the points.

My Pick: Ohio St. 

Z’s Pick:  Notre Dame 

2022 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

As we head into a new football season I will admit to having mixed feelings. Things like conference realignment & NIL have exposed college athletics as the big business that it is, which has eroded much of its charm & virtue. Tradition means nothing when billions of dollars are at stake. That being said, for the next four months I’ll be spending most of my Saturdays vegged out in front of the TV from the time the pregame shows start at 9am until the final west coast games end around 1am, and I’ll love every second of it. I’m a pretty low key guy who is easily entertained, and there’s nothing better than autumn weekends & hours upon hours of gridiron action. So, as we have done for more than a decade now, let us take a peek into the ol’ crystal ball and see if we can predict with some degree of accuracy what may unfold between now & the end of the year. As always I discourage any kind of gambling based on what you read here. I’m not an expert and sometimes have no idea what I’m talking about, so enjoy my pontification in the spirit in which it is intended. 

25 Michigan

Last Season: 12-2

Key Games: 10/15 vs. Penn St., 10/29 vs. Michigan St., 11/26 at Ohio St.

Jim Harbaugh allegedly flirted with some NFL teams this offseason but ultimately returned to Ann Arbor. I do not think that will affect the season, but I also don’t believe the Wolverines will be a playoff contender in 2022. 

24 Oklahoma

Last Season: 11-2

Key Games: 10/8 vs. Texas, 10/29 at Iowa St, 11/5 vs. Baylor, 11/19 vs. Oklahoma St. 

The Sooners lost their head coach & multiple players, including two star quarterbacks. That’s alot to overcome, and I think we’ll see a slight drop under new head coach Brent Venables. This may or may not be their final season in the Big 12, but that’s a discussion for another day. 

23 Houston

Last Season: 12-2

Key Games: 9/10 at Texas Tech, 10/22 at Navy

Can Dana Holgorsen continue last year’s success and keep on winning?? The Cougars will be joining the Big 12 in a season or two, so it would behoove them not only to build momentum, but also take advantage of playing lesser competition while they still can. The September clash in Lubbock against the Red Raiders will provide an indication of how Houston stacks up against their future conference brethren, and it’s also a must win for this year.

22 Oregon 

Last Season: 10-4

Key Games: 9/3 vs. Georgia, 9/17 vs. BYU, 11/19 vs. Utah 

Head coach Mario Cristobal bolted to return to his alma mater Miami (FL), so former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is in charge now. That makes the season opener against the Bulldogs even more interesting. The PAC 12 eliminated divisions, so the top two teams will play in the conference title game, meaning the Ducks will need to be better than Utah or USC. They go head to head with the Utes in Eugene in mid-November.

21 North Carolina State 

Last Season: 9-3

Key Games: 9/17 vs. Texas Tech, 10/27 vs. Virginia Tech, 11/25 at North Carolina 

The ACC has become a muddled mess of mediocrity. Only one team is considered playoff worthy…the rest are jockeying for bowl position. Of course only half of the league are likely to find themselves in that hunt, so the question becomes which teams will rise?? 4 out of the past 5 seasons have had the Wolfpack winning eight or more games, and I think we’ll see more of that in 2022. 

20 Pitt 

Last Season: 11-3

Key Games: 9/1 vs. West Virginia, 9/10 vs. Tennessee, 11/26 at Miami (FL)

Quarterback Kenny Pickett is now plying his trade with my Steelers, and such a key loss would normally be cause for concern. However, thanks to the transfer portal the Panthers will now have former Southern Cal QB Kaden Slovis under center. I don’t believe they’ll be quite as successful as a year ago, but 8 or 9 wins seems achievable. I’m really looking forward to the long awaited renewal of the Backyard Brawl to open the season. 

19 Michigan State

Last Season: 11-2

Key Games: 10/8 vs. Ohio St., 10/15 vs. Wisconsin, 10/29 at Michigan, 11/26 at Penn St. 

I’m never quite sure what to make of the Spartans. In the past six seasons they’ve been  3-9, 10-3, 7-6 (twice), 2-5 (in the Covid shortened year), and 11-2. The Big Ten is stacked, so it’s pretty easy to get lost in the shuffle. They’ll need to win atleast a couple of the key games noted above, which won’t be easy, and may go into Happy Valley at the end of November in a must win situation. 

18 Tennessee

Last Season: 7-6

Key Games: 9/10 at Pitt, 10/24 vs. Florida, 10/15 vs. Alabama, 11/5 at Georgia

It’s time. I remember when the Vols were consistently one of the top teams in the SEC, but that hasn’t been the case since the late 90’s. Occasionally they’ll show signs of life with a 9 or 10 win season, but that has not happened in about five years. I have no evidence to support my optimism. I may look back at this prediction in shame. However, I believe they’ll pull off atleast one stunning upset this season. 

17 Arkansas

Last Season: 9-4

Key Games: 9/3 vs. Cincinnati, 9/24 vs. Texas A&M, 10/1 vs. Alabama, 11/12 vs. LSU

Not every SEC team will finish ranked, but more of them will receive benefit of the doubt than programs from other conferences. Can the Razorbacks continue their momentum from last year, or will they fall back into the abyss they’d been in the four seasons before that?? They can get things off to a good start by beating last year’s favorite underdog story, the Cincinnati Bearcats, and hosting other key games on the schedule at home could prove beneficial.

16 LSU

Last Season: 6-7

Key Games: 9/4 vs. Florida St., 10/1 at Auburn, 10/8 vs. Tennessee, 10/15 at Florida, 11/5 vs. Alabama, 11/26 at Texas A&M

The Ed Orgeron Era is over in Baton Rouge, and former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has taken the reins. Keep in mind Kelly was not fired…he chose to make the move, and I assume he believes this team can be elite. Certainly it’s a tough road in the SEC, but we can’t overlook the fact that the Bayou Bengals won a national championship as recently as 2019. I don’t think it’ll take long to turn things around.

15 Iowa

Last Season: 10-4

Key Games: 9/10 at Iowa St., 10/1 vs. Michigan, 10/22 at Ohio St., 11/12 vs. Wisconsin 

It seems like the Hawkeyes are always good. They’ve won 8+ games in seven of the past nine years, and that’s including the Covid shortened season of 2020. Unlike the PAC 12 the Big Ten has not abandoned its divisional setup, so Iowa doesn’t have to be better than Ohio St., Penn St., or Michigan to get into the conference title game. Eight wins & a Rose Bowl berth is certainly possible.

14 South Carolina 

Last Season: 7-6

Key Games: 9/17 vs. Georgia, 10/22 vs. Texas A&M, 11/26 at Clemson 

This is a big wildcard. Shane Beamer enters his second season in Columbia with a little more familiarity of the SEC, and I expect to see some maturation. They’ll need to score atleast one huge upset, but that’s not out of the question. 

13 Southern California 

Last Season: 4-8

Key Games: 10/15 at Utah, 11/19 vs. UCLA, 11/26 vs. Notre Dame 

I toyed with placing the Trojans much higher, but decided to be conservative. Lincoln Riley’s defection from Oklahoma along with QB Caleb Williams and the transfer of former Pitt receiver Jordan Addison grabbed a lot of headlines in the past several months, and expectations are high. However, perhaps it’d be wise to pump the brakes just a bit. Games at Utah and against Notre Dame in L.A. won’t be easy, and I expect USC to lose atleast once…maybe twice. Fear not Trojan fans…Riley will have his team in the playoff discussion soon…but not quite yet.

12 Notre Dame

Last Season: 11-2

Key Games: 9/3 at Ohio St., 11/5 vs. Clemson, 11/26 at USC

Credit where it is due…the Irish don’t have an easy path. Oh sure, they play a couple of gimmes (one of which will be the season opener against my alma mater…Go Herd), but they’ll need to win atleast one & maybe two of the key games noted above to climb this close to the Top 10, and that’s not going to be a a walk in the park. I am impressed with new head coach Marcus Freeman thus far, but he’s going to have to prove his worth with some big victories. 

11 Clemson

Last Season: 10-3

Key Games: 10/15 at Florida St., 11/5 at Notre Dame, 11/19 vs. Miami (FL)

After winning two national championships in six traight playoff appearances the Tigers fell off just a bit last year. And by that I mean they still had ten victories but didn’t win the ACC title and finished 14th in the final rankings. It’s the hallmark of an elite program when that is considered disappointing. Will they be back in the playoff picture this season?? I don’t think so. No one respects the ACC anymore, and I won’t be surprised if two SEC teams & two Big Ten teams are in the playoff. The only shot Clemson has is to go undefeated in convincing fashion & lay a smackdown on Notre Dame in South Bend.

10 Texas A&M

Last Season: 8-4

Key Games: 9/17 vs. Miami (FL), 10/24 vs. Arkansas, 10/8 at Alabama, 11/5 vs. Florida, 11/26 vs. LSU

Head coach Jimbo Fisher talks a good game, but can his team get it done on the field?? When you sign a ten year contract worth $75 million finishing third in the division simply isn’t good enough. Fisher’s feud” with Nick Saban has been a highlight of this offseason, but what matters is what happens between the lines. I don’t expect A&M to defeat ‘Bama in Tuscaloosa, but anything less than ten wins will be a huge disappointment, and that seat might start to get pretty hot for my man Jimbo.

9 Wisconsin

Last Season: 9-4

Key Games: 9/24 at Ohio St., 10/15 at Michigan St., 11/12 at Iowa

I’ve always been a big fan of Badger football. They’re not flashy, but they are fundamentally sound and win in the trenches. Having said that, the Big Ten is looking awfully difficult, and it is entirely possibly that Wisconsin could be a middle-of-the-pack program right now. All three of the key games I’ve noted are on the road, which is a daunting task. I’m going to venture way out on a limb though and predict they’ll pull off massive upsets in two of those games, paving the way for double digit victories & a Top 10 finish. 

8 Penn State

Last Season: 7-6

Key Games: 9/17 at Auburn, 10/15 at Michigan,  10/29 vs. Ohio St., 11/26 vs. Michigan St.

Is it likely that two Big Ten teams outside the state of Ohio finish in the Top 10?? No. So I guess I’m hedging my bets. An out of conference battle at Auburn & a home game against Michigan St. are must wins for the Nittany Lions.

7 Baylor

Last Season: 12-2

Key Games: 9/10 at BYU, 9/24 at Iowa St., 10/1 vs. Oklahoma St., 11/5 at Oklahoma, 11/25 at Texas

The Bears won the Big 12 title and were victorious in the Sugar Bowl a season ago, and I believe it is entirely possible they’ll be just as good in 2022. However, they’ll need be road warriors to achieve that level of success. With Texas & Oklahoma ditching the Big 12 in the not-so-distant future there is a vacuum at the top of the conference, and Baylor has an opportunity to become the new standard bearer (pun unavoidable). Don’t miss their visit to Norman, OK in early November…I think it’ll be a really great game. 

6 BYU

Last Season: 10-3

Key Games: 9/10 vs. Baylor, 10/15 vs. Arkansas 

This is BYU’s final year as an Independent before joining the Big 12, and they’re ending their independence with a bang. It’s a hell of a schedule. I do not expect them to beat Notre Dame or Oregon on the road, but if they can upset Baylor & Arkansas, win all the games they’re supposed to win, and get to ten victories once again they might actually be in the playoff discussion. There’s no chance they’ll actually be invited to participate, but sometimes getting the respect of simply being mentioned is enough.

5 Alabama

Last Season: 13-2

Key Games: 9/10 at Texas, 10/1 at Arkansas, 10/8 vs. Texas A&M, 10/15 at Tennessee, 11/5 at LSU, 11/26 vs. Auburn 

Freakin’ Nick Saban actually had the nerve to say that 2021 was a rebuilding year for the Tide…a season that saw them win 13 games, beat the snot out of Georgia in the SEC title game, and inexplicably fall by two TDs in the National Championship Game. The sad part is he might be right. Still, the fact is that ‘Bama always receives every opponent’s best shot, and things happen in such a scenario. I don’t know which one it’ll be, but I have a feeling an opponent listed above will have everything fall into place just perfectly, and Alabama will have a rare off day. Will that be enough to derail their playoff aspirations?? God I hope so.

4 Utah

Last Season: 10-4

Key Games: 9/3 at Florida, 10/15 vs. USC, 11/19 at Oregon 

USC has gotten all the PAC 12 attention the past several months, but Utah might be the team to beat right now. We’ll learn a lot when the Utes venture into The Swamp, and playing the Trojans in the cozy confines of Salt Lake City could be quite beneficial. I expect the winner of the mid-November clash in Eugene, OR to take one spot in the conference title game. 

3 Ohio State

Last Season: 11-2

Key Games: 9/3 vs. Notre Dame, 10/8 at Michigan St., 10/29 at Penn St., 11/26 vs. Michigan 

The Buckeyes have essentially become an NFL farm team. Quarterback CJ Stroud returns for his sophomore season after finishing 4th on the Heisman ballot last year. He’ll be considered a front runner for that award as long as his team is winning. I don’t believe the season opener against Notre Dame will be much of a challenge, and they have Michigan at The Horseshoe, so anything less than a playoff berth would be a huge disappointment. 

2 Oklahoma State

Last Season: 12-2

Key Games: 10/1 at Baylor, 10/22 vs. Texas, 11/12 vs. Iowa St., 11/19 at Oklahoma 

The “experts” all seem to slot the Cowboys about ten spots lower than this, so I’m really rolling the dice. The two biggest games on the schedule are both on the road, which makes the task that much harder. QB Spencer Sanders is a senior, which is good, but there was also some turnover in the coaching staff, which makes me nervous. It’s a “go big or go home” kind of thing really. Despite the fact that the TV folks (who really run the business of college sports, in case you didn’t know 😉) would undoubtedly love to see a playoff totally comprised of SEC & Big Ten teams (or USC if they can win the PAC 12), I think a Big 12 team will be in the mix, and given all of the offseason drama don’t believe it’ll be the Oklahoma Sooners. Keep an eye on the October 1st game at Baylor…the winner of that one might have an inside track to a playoff berth. 

1 Georgia

Last Season: 14-1

Key Games: 9/3 vs. Oregon, 10/29 vs. Florida, 11/5 vs. Tennessee

“To be The Man you’ve got to beat The Man”. That’s what wrasslin’ legend Ric Flair always said, and I think it’s good advice. The Bulldogs defeated Alabama to win the National Championship, and I don’t know of any reason to expect a decline. If Georgia comes out of the gate fast and beats Oregon badly then it’s on like Donkey Kong. Most people are likely expecting a rematch against The Tide in the SEC title game, and they’re probably right. I think Georgia wins that game, which will cost ‘Bama a playoff opportunity. 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 14  

After last weekend’s craziness the playoff committee released their rankings as follows: Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, Cincinnati, Oklahoma St., Notre Dame, & Ohio St.. That’s the Top 7 and no one else really matters. Barring any upsets in the conference title games (a huge IF if there ever was one) the essential questions are these: a) how far will the loser of the SEC Championship fall?? & b) can Oklahoma St. leapfrog Cincinnati if they win the Big 12 title?? Notre Dame is screwed because they’re sitting at home while these other teams are still playing. They need Cincinnati AND Oklahoma St. to lose, and even then the 4th playoff spot could go to Ohio St.. At any rate, our marathon of picks during Rivalry Week turned out slightly better for me (6-3) than Zach (2-7), and the lineup is even more packed this weekend. Unfortunately I have plans Friday & Saturday so I probably won’t be watching much of the action. I should be able to keep up with the scores frequently though.

My Season: 43-43

Zach’s Season: 32-54

C-USA

Western Kentucky at UTSA (-2.5)

The first time these teams met on October 9 in Bowling Green, KY the Roadrunners won a high scoring shootout, so the rematch has the potential to be a lot of fun. I’m pretty pissed that my Marshall Thundering Herd isn’t playing in this one, but they blew their chance in spectacular fashion. Texas-San Antonio has the home field and that’s enough for me. Conversely, Zach feels like momentum favors the Hilltoppers and he thinks they’ll eek out a close win.

My Pick: UTSA 

Z’s Pick: Western Kentucky 

PAC 12 (Las Vegas, NV)

Utah (-3) vs. Oregon 

I am intrigued. When these teams met on November 20 in Salt Lake City the Utes scored a huge 38-7 victory and ended Oregon’s playoff aspirations. Will the Ducks face a similar fate on a neutral field?? I don’t think so. It’ll be much closer this time, and I think the underdogs have what it takes to pull off the mild Friday night upset. Zach, on the other hand, believes Utah is firing on all cylinders right now and has a better team with superior athletes. He agrees that it’ll be closer than the first contest between these two, but thinks the favorites will win again. 

My Pick: Oregon 

Z’s Pick: Utah 

Big 12 (Dallas, TX)

Oklahoma State (-7) vs. Baylor 

On October 2 the Bears went into Stillwater and were defeated 24-14, but this game is being played at Jerry World, aka The Palace in Dallas, so there is no home field advantage. The Cowboys could earn a playoff spot if Cincinnati loses, and a convincing win could make the debate interesting even if Cincy wins. I don’t expect anything to be drastically different than the first meeting, and with (potentially) so much at stake I believe we’re looking at another solid OK St. triumph. Zach is impressed by State’s defense and likes their offensive line, but foresees a tight ballgame that could be decided by a late or overtime field goal. 

My Pick: Oklahoma State

Z’s Pick: Baylor 

Mountain West

Utah State at San Diego State (-3.5)

I don’t know who makes the schedule, but c’mon man!! I should be able to hunker down in my warm bed late at night and watch a fun west coast battle, but instead we’re getting a 3pm EST kickoff. Anyway, these teams have not previously met this season, which is a rarity in conference title games. The 9-3 Aggies face a tough task going into hostile territory against the 11-1 Aztecs, who are riding a four game win streak. I don’t expect anything too crazy and believe the home team will win comfortably. Zach likes Utah St.’s ground game but feels like San Diego St.’s defense will come alive in the second half to secure a win.

My Pick: San Diego State 

Z’s Pick: San Diego State

AAC

Houston at Cincinnati (-11)

The Bearcats are causing me a considerable amount of cognitive dissonance. I’m an underdog guy. Always have been, always will be. That being said, I am just not sure Cincinnati belongs in the playoff. They deserve kudos for going thru their schedule undefeated, but are they truly on the level of any Power 5 opponent they’d face in the semifinal?? I have serious doubts. My feelings about this game are further complicated by the presence of current Cougars & former WVU Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen. We expected big things from him in the Mountain State, and he was a fairly decent 51-38 in seven seasons at the helm. However, Holgorsen clearly wasn’t happy here and jumped at the chance to take the Houston job. Both of these teams will be members of the Big 12 in the near future, so the rivalry will continue to grow. This particular contest isn’t hard to pick for me because the points are just too much. Cincy will probably win, but it won’t be a double digit victory. Zach doesn’t think Cincinnati belongs in the playoff but doesn’t believe the committee will deny them if they win this game. However, he foresees Holgorsen having his team ready to pull off the upset. If that happens no one will be happier than the CFP committee. 

My Pick: Houston

Z’s Pick: Houston 

MAC (Detroit, MI)

Northern Illinois vs. Kent State (-5.5)

I used to be a big fan of MACtion. Their random Tuesday or Wednesday night games were a treat. To be honest though, it’s been a few years since I’ve paid any attention to the conference. I vaguely recall when the Huskies went 12-2 in 2012 and lost to Florida St. in the Orange Bowl. NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch finished third in Heisman voting in 2013 behind Alabama QB AJ McCarron & winner Jameis Winston, the quarterback at Florida St. As far as this game, the Golden Flashes are 7-5 and led a rather weak field in the MAC West, while NIU is a solid but unspectacular 8-4 and were beaten by three TDs in their last game. When these teams met just a few weeks ago Kent won a 52-47 shootout, although NIU scored 20 fourth quarter points as their spirited comeback fell short. I suppose there’s a chance it could be a sneakily entertaining contest, but I’m leaning toward Kent winning by double digits. Conversely, Zach likes NIU to pound the rock and score the upset. 

My Pick: Kent State 

Z’s Pick: Northern Illinois 

Sun Belt

Appalachian State (-3.5) at Louisiana

This is my sleeper pick for best game of the week. On October 12 the Mountaineers traveled to Lafayette and suffered a 41-13 loss, so I’m a bit surprised by the odds. The Ragin’ Cajuns haven’t tasted defeat since losing the season opener at Texas, but it seems like they’re not getting much respect. Perhaps the impending departure of head coach Billy Napier to the Florida Gators is a factor. Otherwise, do the oddsmakers have some inside info, or are they simply making assumptions?? I don’t know. Given the current circumstances and taking what we know at face value I have to lean toward the home team scoring a mild “upset”. Zach predicts special teams will play an important role in an App. St. victory. 

My Pick: Louisiana 

Z’s Pick: Appalachian State

SEC (Atlanta, GA)

Georgia (-6.5) vs. Alabama 

As a certain former President might say, this game is YUUUGGGEEE. Not only will an SEC Champion be crowned, but there are major playoff implications. If Georgia wins they’re in, but it is entirely possible that they could lose yet not fall out of the Top 4. And what about ‘Bama?? Obviously they’d be in with a victory, but what happens if they lose?? Will the committee twist themselves in knots trying to justify only dropping the Tide to #4?? The simplest outcome is also the most likely…the Bulldogs win & cover and remain #1, while Alabama drops to #5 and is denied another National Championship opportunity. That’s what I’m hoping to see. As much as Zach respects Nick Saban he just doesn’t think this Alabama team measures up to their predecessors. He thinks Georgia has the best defense in the country and the offense is pretty good too. He’s predicting a big Bulldogs victory. 

My Pick: Georgia 

Z’s Pick: Georgia 

ACC (Charlotte, NC)

Pitt vs. Wake Forest (-2.5)

Good Lord, could there be a more underwhelming matchup?? The ACC really needs Clemson & Florida St. to figure things out because the rest of the conference is a snoozefest. Credit where it is due though, as the 10-2 Panthers have won four straight, while the Demon Deacons lost two of their final four games but still finished 10-2. The game is theoretically being played at a neutral site, but Wake will enjoy a quasi-home field advantage since their campus is only an hour away. That’s enough for me to predict a mundane & unremarkable victory for the favorites. Zach likes Pitt QB Kenny Pickett and believes he will have a great day picking apart Wake’s defense.

My Pick: Wake Forest

Z’s Pick: Pitt

Big Ten (Indianapolis, IN)

Michigan (-9) vs. Iowa 

I’m not a mental health expert, but I know that folks with bipolar disorder experience extreme highs followed by extraordinary lows. I also understand that it is sometimes difficult for athletes to sustain a high level of intensity. Therefore, my question is what do the 11-1 Wolverines have left in the tank after their magnificent beatdown of Ohio St.?? This game isn’t at The Big House against their archrivals, but they are playing for their first Big Ten title since 2004 and a playoff berth that could lead to their first National Championship since 1997. Theoretically that should be ample motivation, right?? The 10-2 Hawkeyes fell off the radar after two consecutive October losses, yet here they are on a four game winning streak. Closer examination reveals that they won those four games by an average of less than 5 points against teams that are collectively 19-29. In other words their schedule was frontloaded, and they didn’t face Michigan or Ohio St.. Iowa’s most impressive victory was a home game against Penn St., a 7-5 team that lost four out of six games in the second half of the season. I don’t think there’s any way Michigan loses this game. However, I can see a dropoff in energy leading to the final margin of victory being a touchdown or less. Zach is also concerned about an emotional letdown for his beloved Wolverines, as well as the enormous pressure they face in restoring the program to its former glory. He points out that Iowa has won 5 out of the last 7 matchups between the two schools. Having said all of that, he isn’t picking against Michigan again (although it did work a week ago). 

My Pick: Iowa 

Z’s Pick: Michigan 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 9 

Happy Halloween Manoverse!! Sadly I was diagnosed as a diabetic a few months ago, and while my trick or treating days ended during the Reagan Administration I usually do hunt down some tasty treats this time of year and hit the day after candy sales…activities I won’t be engaging in now. At any rate, we both went 3-2 last week, which means we kept our head above water and took a small step on the long road back to mediocrity. Stay safe out there folks. Drink lots of water to counteract all that sugar you’ll be consuming. Don’t tick off any axe wielding psychopaths in hockey masks. Enjoy some old monster movies. And be generous to the little kiddies in your neighborhood. Not all Halloween treats are created equally.

My Season: 23-28

Zach’s Season: 22-29

UCLA at Utah (-5.5)

This season feels like a missed opportunity for both teams. The 5-3 Bruins could easily be 7-1, while the Utes are 4-3 but were in all three losses and have to ponder what might have been. But that’s football, right?? The good news is that both teams still have a legit shot to play in the conference title game if my man Tony Dungy & his Arizona St. Sun Devils stumble. This is a 10pm EST kickoff on ESPN, and unless I’m distracted by my thousandth viewing of Halloween (1978) or Hocus Pocus my eyes will be glued to the game. Utah has the home field and I am inclined to agree with the oddsmakers. Conversely, Zach foresees a high scoring game but doesn’t like the points, so he’s going with the underdogs.

My Pick: Utah

Z’s Pick: UCLA

Iowa at Wisconsin (-3)

Y’all remember Billy Bob from the 1999 film Varsity Blues?? That’s the kind of big ol’ boy that plays offensive & defensive line for these second tier Big Ten schools, and it’s why they’re so interesting to watch. A conference title game appearance is still on the table, and I feel like momentum is with the Badgers. If they study film & figure out the formula Purdue used to upset the Hawkeyes a couple of weeks ago it won’t matter that the visitors are coming out of a bye week. Zach thinks Wisconsin is too inconsistent and still believes in Iowa despite the loss to Purdue.

My Pick: Wisconsin

Z’s Pick: Iowa

Michigan (-4.5) at Michigan State

The home field feels like it might be huge here. I never would have predicted a few weeks ago that this would be a battle of Top Ten teams. Add in the fact that a berth in the conference championship and maybe even a playoff nod might be at stake and the whole intrastate rivalry thing is just a cherry on top. I’ve gone on record stating that I’d put both clubs in the CFP ahead of Oklahoma, Cincinnati, & even Alabama, but obviously the loser is eliminated. I can’t even remember the last time this rivalry had so much juice. I am hoping for a close thriller with some big plays but also stellar defense, and I think the home team does just enough to score the upset. Zach is a huge Wolverines fanatic, but he’s a pragmatist who isn’t afraid to be critical when necessary. He’s not sure they deserve to be a Top Ten team because the schedule has been rather prosaic, and he admits Jim Harbaugh’s record in big games isn’t great. Having said that, he thinks this year’s team has an opportunity to be the real deal. Unfortunately he has been let down too many times. I can relate (I’m a lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan after all). I call it Battered Fan Syndrome. So, in a bit of shocking reverse psychology Zach, in an effort to will his team to victory (in my opinion), is picking against them. I have to admit I did not see that coming.

My Pick: Michigan State

Z’s Pick: Michigan State

Georgia (-14.5) vs. Florida

So the Florida-Georgia Line is 14 & a half points. Yes, I just made a really bad country music joke. Anyway, the Bulldogs sit at #1 and will waltz into the playoff…unless they inexplicably stumble along the way. I sincerely believe they’d receive a playoff berth even if they lost the SEC title game, assuming there are no other losses beforehand. The Gators have to be kicking themselves for letting LSU come back and win a high scoring, close game a couple weeks ago, but will that frustration be enough motivation to get the upset here?? I don’t think so. I foresee a big statement victory for Georgia. It should be noted that the game is being played in Jacksonville, so it isn’t a true home field for Florida but one would assume there’ll be more orange & blue in the stands than red. Zach really likes Georgia’s defense and thinks they’ll win big.

My Pick: Georgia

Z’s Pick: Georgia

Ole Miss at Auburn (-2)

The Rebels still have a slight chance to play in the conference title game, although they’ve already lost to Alabama so it’d be an uphill climb. Still…most teams would consider 6-1 with only a loss to (theoretically) one of the best teams in the nation a smashing success. Conversely, 5-2 Auburn isn’t in the SEC title hunt, but I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good about their season thus far. It’s a coin flip situation for me, and The Vibes are whispering Ole Miss in my ear. Zach believes Auburn’s defense will keep it close but likes the Rebels win a tight one.

My Pick: Ole Miss

Z’s Pick: Ole Miss

Penn State at Ohio State (-18)

I’m a little surprised by the points. I suppose the fact that the Buckeyes just rolled Indiana by six TDs while the Nittany Lions lost to Illinois in nine OTs has something to do with it, but still…18 points?? Sure, the game is at The ‘Shoe in Columbus, but 18 freakin’ points?? It just doesn’t feel right. I have no doubt that the home team will win, but I’ll be shocked if it’s by more than a touchdown. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Penn State

Z’s Pick: Penn State

Green Bay at Arizona (-3.5)

Despite all the off-season drama Green Bay & Aaron Rodgers are humming along at 6-1. However, speaking of humming…the Cards are undefeated. This is the Thursday night game, and the TV people have to be thrilled. I know there are folks (mostly players) that have a problem with Thursday Night Football, but from a fan perspective it’s phenomenal, especially when we are treated to a great matchup like this. Arizona has an opportunity to make a powerful statement, while it’s kind of a “hey guys…don’t forget about us” moment for The Pack. Unfortunate for them all-world wide receiver Davante Adams has tested positive for The Sickness, while the Cardinals just activated pass rushing monster Chandler Jones. There is a chance Adams could still play, and his status makes a huge difference. Armed with the information available right now I have to lean toward the home team. Zach acknowledges that being without Adams is a problem, but thinks AA-Rod will find a way to lead his team to victory, perhaps in overtime.

My Pick: Arizona

Z’s Pick: Green Bay

New England at LA Chargers (-6.5)

I have to give the Pats credit…they’re scrappy. Rookie QB Mac Jones has shown flashes and seems like he’ll evolve into something pretty decent. I don’t believe they’ll make the playoffs because the Buffalo Bills are just too good and there are a plethora of better teams fighting for a wildcard berth, but still…kudos. Conversely, the Chargers, as I predicted, look like legit contenders. I believe they’ll win the AFC West. New England might make this one interesting for awhile, but the home team will pull away for a comfortable victory. Zach is all in on the Patriots and believes they’ll win by a field goal.

My Pick: LA Chargers

Z’s Pick: New England

WINNING & MUSING…VOLUME 5.21   

Greetings sports fans, & Happy Halloween Week. There’s a lot going right now, so sit back, relax, grab a warm beverage, & let’s discuss some issues that have absolutely no direct impact on our lives. 

The initial College Football Playoff rankings are just days away, and I am genuinely intrigued. If the committee follows what other polls are doing then the playoff teams right now would be Georgia, Cincinnati, Alabama, & Oklahoma. However, let us consider a few things. First, the committee plays by its own rules and seem to make things up as they go along. Secondly, kudos to the undefeated Bearcats, but are they a legit playoff contender?? Beating Notre Dame…especially in South Bend…has to count for something, yet the rest of their schedule leaves much to be desired. We can’t overlook the fact that the CFP is a television event, and Cincinnati would get obliterated by atleast two of those other teams. To be honest I’ll be surprised if they’re in the CFP’s top four. Alabama & Georgia will probably meet in the SEC title game and determine one playoff berth, but that’s down the line. At the moment the Bulldogs should be the unquestioned #1 team, while ‘Bama shouldn’t be in the top four but undoubtedly will be. And what about Oklahoma?? Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Sooners might be the luckiest team in America. I wouldn’t put them in my top four, but the committee will. So if it was up to me who would be the four playoff teams right now?? Georgia, Michigan St., Ohio St., & Michigan, with the loser of the upcoming matchup between the Wolverines & the Spartans falling out afterward and obviously the Ohio St./Michigan matchup at the end of November looming as a possible elimination game. Keep your eye on Notre Dame. If they win out things could get interesting. Also Oregon, although that overtime loss to Stanford is an issue. They’ll need some other dominoes to fall even if they win the PAC 12.

I’m pretty old-fashioned. Thru the years I’ve expressed a deep & abiding affection for smashmouth football, my preference that the designated hitter rule remain only in the American League, & disdain for conference realignment, amongst other things. I’m one step away from being the grumpy old man that yells at kids to get off my damn lawn. Having said that, allow me to make a radical proposal. Going forward, all newly built stadiums should have a retractable roof, and all current stadiums should be retrofitted with one if at all possible. I know absolutely nothing about construction or the cost of building such structures. Perhaps my idea is crazier than I realize, but if it is feasible then why not?? There’d be no more rainouts in baseball, and football teams would be able to run their plays without battling inclement weather. Fans would always be comfortable. Everybody wins. 

I don’t give a damn about the NHL unless the Pittsburgh Penguins are competing for the Stanley Cup, but a shout out to the league’s newest franchise. Seattle Kraken is a cool name. Sadly they play their home games in something called Climate Pledge Arena, which is asinine. Actually, Amazon owns the naming rights and that’s the kind of woke stupidity they came up with. Not that I’d ever root for anyone other than the Pens (and I barely pay attention to them), but I’m already out on the Kraken. The hippie dipping leftists in the Pacific Northwest will surely enjoy them though, which is nice. 

Rumor has it that the Miami Dolphins might trade for current Houston Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson, which means they’re giving up on Tua Tagovailoa, their 2020 first round pick. In my opinion that’s crazy. Look, I freakin’ love Watson. Yes, I am aware of his private…proclivities, the legal action pending against him, & the likelihood of a future suspension by the NFL. In my opinion there have been players who have done much worse, paid the price, and recovered to have a good career. Watson is one of the best QBs in football and he’s only 26 years old. That being said, Tua is only 23 and it is way too soon to call him a bust. If…if…the Texans are smart enough to get him in the deal in addition to a gaggle of draft picks they could turn into a playoff team rather quickly. If Miami makes a separate trade and gets little to nothing in exchange for Tua it’ll be a huge mistake and whichever team swindles them will look brilliant in a couple of years. 

My Pittsburgh Pirates won the seventh game of the 1979 World Series on Wednesday, October 17, 1979. Four decades later the 2021 World Series begins tomorrow and will not conclude until November 3 if it goes to a Game 7. Perhaps MLB should look at revising their schedule. Anyway…Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves. I have zero interest. None. The Astros being in the World Series (again) is embarrassing for Major League Baseball given the fact that they are known cheaters that received absolutely no punishment for their ill gotten gain. Not only should Houston have been stripped of their 2017 championship, they also should’ve received a five year post-season ban for defrauding the game of baseball. If they were playing almost any other team in this series my rooting interest would be an easy decision, but my disdain for the Braves goes way back to the early 90’s. Like a man without a country I am a baseball fan with nowhere to turn. I suppose I’ll just look forward to spring training and try to convince myself that the Pirates may finally get their shit together. 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 5

We didn’t pick the Clemson game last week, but please indulge me while I give myself a rare pat on the back. In my pre-season poll I pondered the question “Could it be that the ACC is getting better just as the (Clemson) Tigers aren’t quite as elite as they have been??”. It didn’t go down exactly like I thought it would, but yeah…I called it!! No playoff for Clemson this season. Now, if only my weekly picks in these games were as accurate. Sadly both Zach (2-3) and myself (1-4) struggled again last week, so I’m going against my better judgement by chasing wins with bonus picks. Y’all are welcome, even though it may just blow up in our faces.

My Season: 11-15

Zach’s Season: 10-16

Florida International at Florida Atlantic (-10.5)

I can’t be the only one who gets these two teams mixed up, so let’s take a little climb up the learning tree. The 2-2 Florida Atlantic Owls call Boca Raton (45 miles north of Miami) home, represent Conference USA, and are coached by Willie Taggart (former head coach at Oregon & Florida St.). The 1-3 Florida International Panthers are out of Miami, also play in C-USA, and their head coach is Butch Davis (who has also coached for Miami, North Carolina, & the Cleveland Browns). I don’t think there’s much of a home field advantage to be had, and in rivalry games like this most other conventional rules can be tossed aside. So it comes down to vibes and what assumptions one can make based on what we’ve seen thus far. FAU lost to Florida & Air Force, allowing both teams to score 30+ points. FIU has only played one game against top tier competition, and that was a four TD+ loss to Texas Tech. This feels like a relatively low scoring, tight game to be decided by turnovers, penalties, & special teams. Something along the lines of 28-24, which means that I don’t like the spread at all and will take the underdogs to cover. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Florida International 

Z’s Pick: Florida International

Cincinnati (-2.5) at Notre Dame 

I had to look at those odds multiple times utilizing a few different sources. Sure, Cincy is a solid team that had two consecutive 11 win seasons before last year’s abbreviated campaign in which they logged 9 victories before narrowly losing to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. They handled a well regarded Indiana team last week. I am by no means saying that the Bearcats aren’t good. However, they’re an AAC team typically not on the same level as a program like Notre Dame. Not only that, but this game is in South Bend and the 4-0 Irish have given no one any reason to doubt them outside of being pushed into overtime by Florida St. in the season opener. Hell, they took Wisconsin’s best punch a week ago and still won by 4 TDs, so what am I missing?? Why is Cincinnati favored in this game?!?!?!?? It sounds pretty insane to me, so I’m going with the home team to score the “upset”. Conversely, Zach believes the Bearcats are for real and this is their opportunity to prove they belong in the playoff conversation. 

My Pick: Notre Dame 

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati 

Ole Miss at Alabama (-14.5)

Well, atleast we don’t have to worry about Clemson in the playoff, so it’ll be fresh to some degree. Now if only we could see the Tide lose a couple of games and fall out of contention, how cool would that be?? Unfortunately that’s probably not going to happen. ‘Bama has won four games by an average of 29 points, although it should be noted that they’ve not faced anyone with a pulse other than Florida, a game they only won by two points. The Rebels are 3-0 and have also beaten up on clearly inferior competition. In attendance will be highly touted recruit Arch Manning, Peyton & Eli’s nephew. It is my understanding that both Ole Miss & Alabama are high on his list, so it’ll be interesting to hear down the line how this game affected his decision. At any rate, if it were being played in Oxford I might be tempted to pick the upset. Enigmatic Rebels’ head coach Lane Kiffin spent a few years as ‘Bama’s offensive coordinator awhile back so obviously he’d love to snatch a shocking victory. However, with the game being contested in Tuscaloosa I just don’t see it happening. The only question is if the home team can cover the points, and I believe they will. Zach’s man crush on Nick Saban makes his choice easy. 

My Pick: Alabama

Z’s Pick: Alabama 

Arkansas at Georgia (-18.5)

I didn’t think the Razorbacks were legit, but I was wrong. They handled Texas A&M and moved into the Top 10. Unfortunately they now must travel to Athens and challenge the undefeated #2 Bulldogs. I’d be really surprised if Georgia loses, but can they cover?? The points feel a bit disrespectful. Having said that, it feels like a “go big or go home” moment, and I did pick Georgia to be a playoff team and thus far they’ve done nothing to dissuade me, so I’m counting on them to notch a three touchdown victory. Zach respects Georgia’s defense & team speed, but he doesn’t like the spread and thinks Arkansas will keep it close.

My Pick: Georgia

Z’s Pick: Arkansas 

Detroit at Chicago (-3)

Good Lord the Bears were awful a week ago. At the time of publication it is unknown whether the Bears’ starting QB will be rookie Justin Fields, Andy Dalton, or Nick Foles…but does it matter?? Conversely, the Lions are coming off a last second loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which it took the longest field goal in NFL history to beat them. Can they use that heartbreaking defeat as motivation?? If they were playing a playoff caliber team I might have doubts, but the Bears aren’t that, so I think Detroit scores the mild upset. Zach agrees on all counts. 

My Pick: Detroit 

Z’s Pick: Detroit 

Seattle at San Francisco (-3)

In my NFL Preview I predicted that the NFC West would be fun to watch, and so far they have not disappointed. This game might end up being a factor in a few months when deciding a playoff spot, and don’t think for a second these teams don’t realize that. Seattle lost to the Minnesota Vikings last weekend, while ‘Frisco was on the losing end of an unsurprising Aaron Rodgers miracle, so both clubs will be looking to rebound. I think the home field actually does make a difference, so I’m picking the Niners. Zach, on the other hand, believes potential league MVP Russell Wilson will lead his team to victory. 

My Pick: San Francisco 

Z’s Pick: Seattle 

Arizona at LA Rams (-6)

Staying in the NFC West, these are the teams I believe will be battling for the division crown at the end, so it’s a pretty big early season matchup. Both are undefeated, but obviously that’ll change for one of them. It looks like the trade for QB Matthew Stafford was a wise move for the Rams, while the Cards have developed into a seemingly complete team. This is a tossup for me, but whoever wins I think it’ll be by less than a touchdown. Zach foresees a close game but believes the home team will cover. 

My Pick: Arizona 

Z’s Pick: LA Rams 

Tampa Bay (-6.5) at New England

It’s the Brady Bowl. I’m sure the folks in Boston & Tampa are pumped, but personally I’d rather see both teams lose. That being said, I think it’s been well established by now that the “Patriot Dynasty” was more about Brady than it ever was about Belichick. The oddsmakers seem to agree since the home team is a near touchdown underdog. The Sunday Night Football folks at NBC are probably going to be disappointed because I think this one will be over rather quickly and the defending Super Bowl champs might win by 4 or 5 TDs. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Tampa Bay 

Z’s Pick: Tampa Bay