Readers and skeptics alike. Welcome to our weekly adventures in prognostication. This edition of picks is brought to you by Big 10 Town sponsor Bunker Hill, Indiana -- a comfortable, yawn of a village smack in the middle of the northern bisect boasting a communal population of 987.
Bunker Hill is the perfect backdrop for our continued reliance on what I'll term Del-any-usion -- a belief, incompatible with reality or fact that the Big 10 conference will positively represent itself in out of conference play -- named after Conference Commissioner Jim Delany.
Let's see...if we move the regular season finale up to October players won't have a conflict of interest during exams, and Big 10 teams can wait six weeks longer than everyone else to play in bowl games.
Before we get to this week's irresistible octane, lets take a moment to review the rules of the game:
One (1) point is earned for a correctly picking the winning team. An additional two (2) points are earned for correctly identifying the winning spread by seven points or less. Two (2) bonus points are awarded for the "upset pick" -- an upset being defined as predicting: 1. Any AP/BCS Top 25 ranked team to defeat any opponent of higher rank, which in fact does occur, or 2. Any non-ranked AP/BCS Top 25 team to defeat any ranked opponent, which in fact does occur. If you think you can do better -- enter your picks for all seven games in the comments section of the article at least an hour before kickoff (EST) of the first match in question. At the end of the week we'll tally your predictions with our own and anyone who successfully outmatches both Franz and Filler will be given the chance to say anything they want on the main page of The Rivalry, Esq.
In that vein, let's take a look at our unimaginably pathetic results from Week 1: FRANZ 5 points, FILLER 7 points, MWilt 7 points, SC 8 points.
Franz v. Filler WINNER: FILLER
Despite his improvident selection of Miami (OH) over Vanderbilt, Graham advances to 1-0 on the season on the strength of his spread strikes. But that's not all...
OVERALL WINNER: SC
The bigger they are the harder they fall. In true David v. Goliath fashion we at The Rivalry, Esq. are professionally embarrassed by our psychic impotence. After failing to hold out for even a single week against the fan resistance we now resign ourselves to the consequences.
As the outright champion of The Obligatory Predictions Competition Week 1 you are entitled to write one entry (up to 500 words) on the main site. E-Mail me at Franz.firstname.lastname@example.org with your manifesto.
Onward with the Week 2 Predictions:
1. CINCINNATI at No. 4 OKLAHOMA 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC
FILLER predicts OKLAHOMA by 24
Magic man Brian Kelly, has won everywhere he has gone (GVSU, CMU, most surprisingly Cincinnati), and he returns a solid defensive squad along with veteran QB Dustin Grutza. Oklahoma meanwhile, is loaded like a good baked potato, plus recent history is behind them: Since 2000, Oklahoma’s record is 27-3 in non-conference regular season match-ups.
FRANZ predicts OKLAHOMA by 17
Two years ago Brian Kelly said he was going to make Cincinnati a Top 25 caliber program and regular contender for the Big East championship. Even his players were skeptical. Last year Cincinnati went 10-3 and finished in the final AP Top 25 (at No. 17), both school firsts. Now he says he wants to see what a UC team that lost to WVU by 4 points last year can do against a much heralded Oklahoma that got scorched by 20 by the same Mountaineers. Something tells me he's not comparing apples to apples.
2. No. 15 BYU at WASHINGTON 3:10 p.m. EST
FILLER predicts BYU by 25
Direct Quote from UW Dawg Pound Blogger: “Washington needs to be mentally prepared because they are playing a team on a mission - no pun intended.” He is right - BYU is ranked, stacked, and experienced. Washington is a BCS school with no discernible offensive line and a defense that gave up 44 points to a JUCO 3rd string QB from Oregon.
FRANZ predicts BYU by 14
It won't be Tyrone Willingham's last game. But he doesn't have much time left.
3. OREGON STATE at No. 19 PENN STATE 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC
FILLER predicts PENN STATE by 13
Both of these teams gained confidence in their offense during the first week. OSU’s Lyle Moevao proved he can manage the offense effectively, while Penn State showed Coastal Carolina 66 reasons why the Spread HD might work after all. OSU message boards are decrying the Beavers lack of a running game, but these same experts have much confidence in Pac 10 athletes versus Big 10 athletes. Penn State bloggers are worried their linebacking corps will struggle in pass coverage, this being especially relevant with the Beaver’s pass happy attack.
FRANZ predicts PENN STATE by 17
The Rivalry, Esq. chanced the Spread HD last week and it liked what it saw. Before you think the Big 10/Pac 10 challenge is going to get ugly watch what happens when a West Coast team has to travel 3,000 miles east to face a solid pair of passers in Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin. It doesn't help that the Beavers struggled against Stanford in their conference opener. Note to OSU: Don't fumble the ball into the endzone -- it can spoil a game-winning drive.
4. SAN DIEGO STATE at NOTRE DAME 3:43 p.m. EST, NBC
FILLER predicts NOTRE DAME by 17
SDS lost to a 1-AA school in its opener, and in the process, lost some starters to some pretty grievous injuries. Notre Dame, on the strength of its monster recruiting classes and the fact that Jimmy Clausen has some experience, should pull away easily in this game. The Rivalry will be closely watching the ND offensive line – this unit was the main weakness of the 2007 Irish.
FRANZ predicts NOTRE DAME by 21
There's not much to say here. Expect a bigger, stronger, smarter Jimmy Clausen to put up first-string opener-like numbers before Evan Sharpley mops this one up in South Bend.
5. No. 8 WEST VIRGINIA at EAST CAROLINA 4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
FILLER predicts WVU by 20
The (purple) Pirates obviously are not shying away from big time teams, following a VT upset with a home game against the Mountaineers. EC got a great performance from QB Patrick Pinkney, who had an 83% completion percentage against an always tough Virginia Tech team. But before everyone jumps on the Pirate’s bandwagon (Pirates shouldn’t have bangwagons, they should have bandships)… West Virginia has no quarterback problems (like Virginia Tech) and claims to be revitalized under Bill Stewart.
FRANZ predicts WVU by 10
Pat White showed there is "life after Slaton" last week by throwing a career-high 5 touchdown passes against Villanova. He'll have to take the air show on the road this week to Greenville against a team hot off a head-turning upset against No. 17 Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers will extend their winning streak against the Pirates to 9-0, but they'll need a little Divine intervention.
6. MIAMI (FL) at No. 5 FLORIDA 8:00 p.m. EST, ESPN
FILLER predicts FLORIDA by 27
This matchup pits Tebow versus the Hurricanes for the War Canoe Trophy. This would have been an especially sexy game 6-10 years ago, but the Hurricane’s recent downgrade to a Tropical Storm make things game somewhat less interesting. Florida has flipped the script on Miami in the last 5 years. UF gets the top recruits from Florida (Chris Rainey) and is a perpetual top 10 team.
FRANZ predicts FLORIDA by 17
Not surprisingly we here at The Rivalry, Esq. are fans of the rivalry contest. Saturday will mark the return of one of the greatest. These in-state giants haven't seen each other since the 2004 Peach Bowl, but a lot has changed since then. Miami has won the last six meetings. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Sunshine State scorcher Percy Harvin aim to fix that. They'll have to do it against a Miami defense that limited Charleston Southern to 126 yards in the opener.
7. No. 12 TEXAS TECH at NEVADA 9:05 p.m. EST
FILLER predicts TEXAS TECH by 17
High flying Texas Tech tried to show a running game last week, scoring five touchdowns on running plays….as if opponents needed more to worry about while playing defense against the Red Raiders. Nevada is a solid team and their pistol offense is effective, but they haven’t seen anything the likes of Crabtree and the TT Spread Passing.
FRANZ predicts TEXAS TECH by 10
Nevada has an offense (629 yards last week against Grambling State). Texas Tech has an offense. This one will belong to the defense -- an advantage that goes to the Red Raiders and their 8 returning starters.