Texas A&M @ #2 Texas
HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: Sorry to make an afterthought of you, Agros, but the question here isn't a Texas win or loss, but a Texas win blowout-y enough to maintain its eensy BCS lead over Oklahoma or not. Still worried about the 'Horns run game? They can leave it at home, thanks to A&M's very gracious (91st-ranked) pass defense. Light 'em up, Battle Cattle.
Grateful for: My veryown Daddy, for teaching me to recognize a 4-3 defense and how to grip a football before I had the training wheels off my first bike.
ORSON, DOING MACK BROWN TWO-STEP. If there is a crack, Mack Brown will be up between the sticky buttocks with a fierceness that will shock and astonish those who have never seen the politician in full attack mode. As much as we'd like Texas A&M to extend the dominion of Barlorath, the 5-headed visigoth spirit who rules the last three weeks of the season with a bloody sceptre and orders barked through a platinum megaphone, and disturb the Longhorns' claim to a national title slot, the Longhorns are in resume mode. Snap to, Slothrop: them bombs is comin' down hard and fast all day. The Aggies electoral map shows massive landslide for Senator Brown.
Grateful for: My dog, who holds down the couch with authority.
WFV @ #25 Pitt
HOLLY, WOOOOOOOOORATIONAL: VENGEANCE IS, Y'ALL!
This is the grudge match of the season, right'chere. "Pitty"Pat White will pad his QB rushing yards lead, couches will tremble, and the---wait, what? What do you mean, "Bill Stewart still works there"? Like, as a coach? Of the football team? Oh, man. Oh, they're fucked.
Grateful for: Erik, JL, and their precious baby girl, my only family in California. (Even though they're Penn State/Ohio State loyalists. Love knows no conference.)
ORSON, TOTALLY IRRATIONAL. Wannstache loses game they should have won: check. Wannstache should, by rule, demonstrate competence this week and win...unless the plan involves a counterintuitive collapse late, which with all this winning that's been going on around Pittsburgh seems oddly logical.
Fighting this impulse: the Bill Stewart factor, which is like the Wannstache factor, but with worse clock management and a mustache. Take the Wannstache, because in the battle of which blind pilot's landing this plane, we'll take the guy who kind of looks like a swingin' 70s Eastern Airlines air jockey.
Grateful for: The good people at TSN, who pay me to write about running and vomiting at the same time.
UCLA @ Arizona State
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL. Kevin Craft cannot throw a pass further than 7 yards down the field with accuracy; after the sticks, his passes might as well be paper airplanes. Arizona State puts their miserable season to an end with a satisfying final bullet against UCLA, who's had it worse than poor Rudy Carpenter--and he's the guy whose body is almost entirely made of spackle and bondo at this point.
Grateful for: Ole Miss beating Florida, which awakened some kind of latent awesome gene in them, thus turning them into world-beating ass barons this year.
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: No one particularly understands how Rudy Carpenter is still alive (it would be foolish to discount the theory that he died in week 4 and it's all being done with sticks and mirrors). Luckily for Rudy and any small children watching, while UCLA's pass defense is quite serviceable, their sacks record is not.
Grateful for: The Edison, my personal mothership and the creepsome-freak-happiest place on earth.
#22 Georgia Tech @ #11 Georgia
HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: After their oddly inept showings against Florida and Kentucky, I'm all kinds of done predicting Georgia will step up, particularly against GT's stealthily excellent rushers (fourth in the country. Fourth!). The Dawgs will prevail, but only because they have to, and I don't see them doing so in a particularly skillful fashion. You're better than this, Georgia. Act like it.
Grateful for: Gymnastics blooper videos.
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL. We're actually thinking one of Georgia's best quantities--Rennie Curran--could be a total liability in this game, as he's so fast and aggressive that Tech's three-card-monte option game could have him running past plays in pursuit of men who no longer have the ball. The other worry for Georgia: Tech's defensive line, a truly heinous unit that turned a bad Miami offense into slobbering zombies in under a quarter of work. 6'7" Michael Johnson will bring back the sun when he decides to, young man. Georgia, but only because you have just a teensy bit more talent than Tech does on the scoring side of things.
Grateful for: My mother, who doesn't flinch when I say motherfucker.
Auburn @ #2 Alabama
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL. Auburn's offense.
Alabama, because rockets should go further than two feet, and as Georgia Tech's offense has shown, having an antediluvian offense is no excuse for poor execution.
Grateful for: The city of Atlanta, the home of chicken-fried surrealism.
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL AND BOARDING UP WINDOWS: Alabama has the talent differential, the coaching acumen differential, and the totally bitchingest proprietary fabric pattern differential working in their favor. Auburn, though...Auburn's on the side of the angels. We've been toying with this idea like a particularly spiteful ball of yarn for a couple weeks now, but admit it: Tide fans aside, you want to see Auburn notch that crucial sixth win in Tuscaloosa. You have to. It makes no sense to think that they will, mind...but it's crazy not to want it.
Grateful for: The Sports Night 10th Anniversary box set.
#4 Florida @ #20 Florida State
ORSON, LITERIRRATIONAL: Urban Meyer in rivalry games has a special knack for channeling the seventh century B.C. poet Archilocus:
My one great talent lies in making
those who wrong me suffer horribly.
As far as the poetry on the other side goes:
As he is not half as eloquent as his classmate Archilocus, Bobby Bowden loses the battle of poetry and that of the gridiron, because simply by being the coach of his designated other, he must suffer the wrath of Meyer and his team of mach 5 Lilliputians. To the pain, Florida.
Grateful for: The Economist subscription my in-laws get me every year. It is the only thing standing between my brain it becoming a tasty gel-like substance served on toast points at parties.
HOLLY, LOSING INTEREST: Whatever video game the Gators have trapped the bulk of their competition in since, oh, September, they might want to ratchet up the difficulty level just to keep us interested. Florida State will be of no help in this regard. Bring on Bama already.
Grateful for: Shark Week.
Baylor @ #7 Texas Tech
HOLLY, BAWWWWWWWWW LOOKIT: There are some bears that are not to be feared.
Grateful for: My mother, who while still not over last year's post-Florida wagering "incident", has at least stopped yelling about it every time anyone mentions The Internet. And for never telling my dad about it.
ORSON, WEARING BLACK SUIT. Look away. Nothing to see here. That screaming is a drill. No, wait, that's screaming. Fire? No idea what you're talking about. That's merely swamp gas reflecting the glow of the full moon. Bodies? They're just sleeping. If you could look into this light, please, you'll soon understand that this wasn't so much a game, but a release of great anger and pressure upon a hopelessly outmatched opponent [FLAAAAAAAAASH!]
Grateful for: LSUFreek, Holly, and Donnie, without whom this site would be infinitely poorer than it already is in every way.
Kentucky @ Tennessee
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL. We expect Randall Cobb to show his best game as a starter here, and to be unleashed hell in cleats next year. What the hell: Kentucky, because both teams are a push on defense and because Tennessee's offense remains so horrendous its black cloud of suck is altering weather patterns in North Carolina.
Grateful for: Coffee.
HOLLY, RESIGNED: I don't know. I really don't know about this one. I can't name a single genuine gamebreaker in blue and white, but will it matter? Also there's this. Dammit, man, your name had "Claw" in it! We trusted you! More importantly, you could've had the greatest pantheon of nicknames in the history of college football, had you managed to, y'know, coordinate an offense. Oh, what might have been.
Grateful for: Eric "Jesus Football Christ" Berry, Britton "BAC" Colquitt, Nick "Tell 'em, Nicky-Steve" Stephens, and all the rest of Tennessee's once and future gamebreakers. Heads up.
#23 Oregon @ #17 Oregon State
ORSON, IRRATIONAL. Even without Jacquizz Rodgers we trust Oregon State to win because they've stolen Tommy Tuberville's close game mojo, cobbling together winning scores from one TD a game and a magic grab bag of safeties, field goals, defensive scores, and whatever else he can turn into points. The Coupon Team of the West Coast makes it three in a row over the Ducks for your improbable Pac-10 champions, the Oregon State Beavers. Beaver. Heh.
Grateful for: Someone giving me a copy of P.J. O'Rourke's Holidays in Hell.
HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: Oregon State, for the sole reason that a USC-Penn State Rose Bowl would be the sleepiest bloodbath.
Grateful for: Herr Swindle, for giving me a very large platform upon which to call Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton a goatfucker with ever-increasing frequency and ardor, and for telling me, "Write whatever you want, whenever you want", and meaning it.
#3 Oklahoma @ #12 Oklahoma State
HOLLY, TREPIDATIOUS: If Oklahoma plays like they've been proving they can, there's not a whole lot Gundy & Friends will be able to do to stop them. Fine. What we're all really looking ahead to is the horrorshow scrum to follow as the Big XII South teams are reduced to BCS dependency to get them into their own conference title game. SEC East Ghost of Seasons Past (You Know, When We Were Good Too) nods knowingly and extends a sad fist bump. Courage, gents.
Grateful for: You lot. No, really. Yes, Bammer/Barner threadjackers, even you. Especially you. It's like having a buncha them pet fish that fight, or a playroom full of toddlers that can drink and talk back, which is to say you are all unbridled joys, each in your own way.
LOKI, JUST BEIN' LOKI. WOULD NOT IT BE A FUN IF YOU HAD DE SOONERS LOSE DIS GAME! JUST LIKE LOKI'S FINEST WORK, WHEN HE FOULED UP ALL SWEDES UNDERWEAR WITH THE POWDER MAKING THE UNSTOPPABLE ITCH! MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA!!!!
UNFORTUNATELY THE LOKI IS BUSY FILMING CAMEO IN NEW WAYANS BROTHERS MOVIE "THAT ASS WHICH IS SO STANK," THE TALE OF THE BROTHERS BORN WITH BLACK BODIES BUT WHITE ASSES WHO MUST HIDE THEIR SECRET IN ELABORATE AND THE FUNNIEST OF WAYS. OKLAHOMA STATE, WE SEEING YOU NEXT YEARS!!!
Grateful for: TCOAN, the greatest boss anyone could ask for. The beatings will continue until morale improves, and we're fine with that as long as you use the rubber hose, and not the claw hammer. Unless we ask specifically for the claw hammer, that is.