#4 Florida @ Tennessee
HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: As I write this, the line is sitting pretty at 7.5. Pass the salt! Which Tennessee team has Vegas been watching? The one that thinks it's a swell idea to keep an outmatched Jonathan Crompton winging passes, or the one that couldn't get to 40 against UAB with a bye week to prepare? That offense is going all kinds of wrong in ways I'm not sure I can even identify (although CATCHING THE GODDAMN BALL would be a great start), and a day before kickoff against our most loathsome rivals my idea of a successful outing would be to see the Vawls leave the field at 0:00 without having been booed by our own student section. (Which is no longer unheard of in Neyland, and isn't THAT a pleasant turn of events.) Tennessee does have a history of coming up big against lowered expectations, but---no. It's our time at the edge, and the stay will be neither brief nor pleasant. Florida, by a gulfy margin.
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL. Not by gulfy margins, certainly: the Florida offense is still trying to figure out all these durn pieces, and Dan Mullen, flustered by all the weirdness, will likely give up on the newfangled "run-ning back" position after a few punts and go back to TebowSmash/HarvinGive/Occasional PA deep ball as he's wont to do. Tennessee's offense has been bad to semi-bad to this point, and that gapemouthed look Jonathan Crompton gets when a disguised coverage unveils itself makes the stomach wrench with a torsion unfelt since the early days of Casey Clausen era. He's good for the margin of victory, which feels like something around 28-17ish or so. (Also, Hayes is picking the Vols. Free. Money.)
#15 East Carolina @ North Carolina State
ORSON, IRRATIONAL. ECU. North Carolina State really isn't fielding so much of a football team as an eleven-fold object lesson in humility clad in cleats, and that ECU is due to hold the sprained, barely sparking neurons of this country's college football punditry hostage until they lose to a Conference USA team in a moment of slack attention sometime in June.
We're reading Shadows in the Brain right now, and therefore suggests an experiment borrowed from research conducted in the book. People who lose limbs can eliminate a lot of phantom pain simply by being shown a reversed image of themselves in a mirror (so it looks like the side without the arm has an arm.) The brains sees it, says "Hello, arm," and the phantom pain ceases.
We suggest NC State bluescreen videos of their players doing incredible feats of football agility: actually scoring TDs, picking off passes, making one-handed heel tackles of fleet running backs. Then, the team should watch them on a daily basis. Even though they will look obviously fake, it still would work as well as anything they're doing right now, because they suuuuuuuuuck like baby goats at the teat right now.
HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: ECU's marquee win over West Virginia looks a mite less sparkly in the wake of the entire country being confronted last night with the irrefutable fact that Bill Stewart is aw-shucksing the Mountaineers into an early grave. Good thing they won't need to lift a finger to stop the Wolfpack, which has already lost in ouchy fashion to South Carolina and Clemson (brothers in state, in hate, and in being very, very bad at football).
Troy @ #13 Ohio State
HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: Ohio State. I mean, I guess. And that's the problem, isn't it?
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: Ohio State. They'll do what they do best: destroying overmatched competition at home.
Mississippi State @ Georgia Tech
ORSON, IRRATIONAL: Georgia Tech by a margin of 2-0. Call it now, get on this ticket early: this game will end 2-0 as Georgia Tech's flexbone stalls out and Mississippi State continues to demonstrate their "Yes Fish 42 How I Loved Her Spanishly" offense. (Playbook by Andre Breton; illustrations by Salvador Dali.) Perfection will be achieved, and Tommy Tuberville will read of this afterwards, shake his hands to the heavens, and resign out of jealousy that someone beat him to his life's masterpiece before him.
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: BEEEEEEEEEEEES, don't you think there's enough sorrow in store this weekend? If you're bowl-eligible by Halloween I promise to wear a slutty bee costume or something, but just do this. For me. For the intrepid commenters who will not let this joke die. For humanity.
Arizona @ UCLA
HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: As surely as the sun rises in the east, as surely as there will always be an England, Mike Stoops loses football games. There's nothing "quasi-" about this. It's science.
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: Riverside, motherfucker! Arizona takes this game by virtue of actually having a quarterback and by running an offense based, conveniently enough, on the BYU offense that in one variation put 59 points on the UCLA defense. Mike Stoops may lose football games, but he can win gunfights, and this is no metaphor: he can shoot people dead with great accuracy is what we meant to say, and may have been the trigger man in the death of Pablo Escobar.
Miami @ Texas A&M
ORSON, IRRATIONAL: We were going to suggest A&M was going to play well, and rebound from early struggles as Mike Sherman pares things down and gets the offense going while Joe "HIBBERDANG!" Kines get the defense on its feet, an especially probable bet considering Patrick Nix is calling the plays for Miami.
Then, Dave sent us this:
...and completely irrationally, we suddenly feel a 20 point blowout coming.
HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: The U's defenders look and play like harbingers of something big and scary and thrillingly good. They're not there yet, but a fully-ept Aggie offense is preferable to a mostly-ept Florida one. 'Canes.
#18 Wake Forest @ #24 Florida State
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: Wake, for the sole reason that I resent the fact that Florida State is ranked. Not that I necessarily think they're ranked unfairly, mind, just that it's come to this.
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: Crazily enough, because Wake Forest is the better team and has been for three years now? Because Bobby Bowden scuttled the fortunes of this program by trusting his team's offensive identity to his inept son for years, thus bottoming out the talent on that side of the ball and relegating the defense to janitorial duty cleaning up the the O's mess. Riley Skinner is the big man in this game for Wake, and if you thought there was a penis joke in there you were mistaken and misunderstood our innocent words. Shame on you!
Vandy @ Ole Miss
ORSON, IRRATIONAL. Burned us twice going into the season. We cannot bet against them until they lose, especially with the Houston Nutt Variable working here. (Beat LSU, lose to feebleness at the other end of the schedule.)
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: I'm reminded of Doug's assessment of Vandy back in Week 2: "Holy crap, what if these guys are for real? " Simple. To the point. Zeitgeisty. And we still don't know for sure, and nothing about this weekend is likely to change that, but you're feeling it, aren't you, SEC divisional brethren? That little seedling of doubt, of fear, of "Sweet Bobby Johnson's snowy mane, am I prepared for a world where we could lose to Vanderbilt and it's not a fluke?"
#6 LSU @ #10 Auburn
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: I....don't....know. I can't begin to get a bead on this because LSU hasn't had to play a complete game and Auburn...well, we know what manner of "football" Auburn's been playing. LSU, but it's gonna be a weird one.
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: LSU, because Andrew Hatch will get them deep in trouble in the 3rd, make some phone calls to fellow Harvardians, and then have a congressional bailout award them ten points in the early fourth quarter despite subpar performance the entire game.
#3 Georgia @ Arizona State
ORSON, IRRATIONAL: Georgia. This has all the punji sticks and concealed triggers of an early season booby trap, but Arizona State has never protected Rudy Carpenter, and will not start now. The anxious Georgia fan says but we have no pass rush fret fret fret! Oh, but you have not faced an opponent with such a free-marketeer's attitude toward the regulation of the defense's free flow toward the quarterback. The Ron Paul blocking scheme sinks them in the end.
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: Pick = Georgia.
Rationale = this photo: