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The weekend in Gamblor-baiting, divided into half-reasoned predictions and blind contempt.

#5 OSU @ #1 USC

ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: USC. We’ll all look like idiots for picking USC for the first quarter, the first quarter when Mark Sanchez struggles a bit, the Buckeyes actually stick to the run in a big game for a while, and the Buckeye defense zeroes in on USC’s innovative “first down boot PA pass” call, which they make every damn time they hold the ball.

Then, the ice weasels come for Ohio State, and they come at halftime. The run game will stall; USC’s offense will find holes underneath in the zone, or counter OSU’s blitzes with screens and slants; and then it’s all tears and replay from there as this rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem in the second half. Then, they’ll have to rely on Todd Boeckman passing them back into the game to survive. This means they die.

HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: USC. Can the argument be made that for the past two weeks Ohio State has been operating out of a third of its playbook, saving all the fancy Pryor packages for the game that'll swing their title hopes the most? Of course. But if Tressel's got something that gamebreaking up his tiny sleeves, I find it very hard to believe he'll choose the Coliseum as a staging ground to see whether or not any of it works. If last week's game had truly been the cakewalk we all expected, the Buckeyes would've been able to wrest control handily once things started to careen the way of the Bobcats. They did not.

#13 Kansas @ #19 South Florida

ORSON, IRRATIONAL: Kansas. Matt Grothe was a spastic quadriplegic born to a large, poor Irish family. His mother, Brunehilde, recognized the intelligence and humanity in the lad everyone else regards as a vegetable. Eventually, Grothe matured into a cantankerous writer who uses his only functional limb, his left foot, to write with.

Apologies. This actually describes Christy Brown from <i>My Left Foot</i>. Grothe, though, can be just as effective depending on the night, and since USF’s offense is without a full-speed Mike Ford at running back they’ll just turn him out there to “make something happen.” Remember Rutgers/USF? It will be like that, except the other team has an actual quarterback.

HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: South Florida. For precisely the same reasons. Janie says having Grothe on the team is like starting a Magic 8 Ball at quarterback. Tonight, the Bulls' fortune reads, "It is decidedly so."

#14 East Carolina @ Tulane

ORSON, IRRATIONAL: East Carolina. Pulling for East Carolina in order to watch the massive bump pollsters give them for beating the Green Wave like rented mules, and then the subsequent complaints from Alabama fans for same pollsters moving Bama down for a lackluster performance against said Green Wavers.

HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: East Carolina. Because all West Virginia has left now is to characterize last week's curb-stomping at the hands of the Purple Pirates as a Quality Loss. Move 'em up and slake the misery of Morgantown, at least until they wake up on their porches and realize that no, it wasn't a particularly milquetoasty nightmare, they really did hire Bill Stewart.

#2 Georgia @ South Carolina

ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: Georgia. Cloned Spurrier’s diminished product will ooze sadness through the screen. We may not even watch, as you’ll be able to call it from the couch: oh look, wacky qb throwback that Smelley fumbles. Hey, a slant. A draw! Imagine. Wow, a fake field goal that goes for a pick. It will be like watching the T-2000 in its last death throes, morphing into glimpses of everyone it’s killed before succumbing to a molten death. If you wondered at what point we gave up on the universe, pronounced our youth dead, and took up with a bottle of Zybrowka for the duration, it is during this game. Georgia by scores.

HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: Georgia. Even after living through the late 90s-early aughts as an SEC fan under the reign of Spurrier, this isn't all that fun to watch anymore. (All right, except the Vanderbilt loss. Again. Hee.) Time to haul the OBC out the golf course, where he'll chase squirrels and get to run with his own kind. "He's my coach, Pa. I'll do it." (And admit it---you want things to go as badly as possible for South Carolina, bad enough for Stephen Garcia to be sent in. The over/under for Gamecock quarterback rotations in this game is 4.5. GAR.CI.A.)

UCLA @ #18 Brigham Young

ORSON, IRRATIONAL: Brigham Young. Invaders in Provo? Ask Arkansan wagon trainers how well that goes. [/underthebannerofheaven’d!]

HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: UCLA. This hinges largely on which iteration of which Bruins quarterback suits up for the afternoon, but lest we forget: BYU was given fits last week by a Willingham squad.

Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech

ORSON, IRRATIONAL: Generic ACC provisional score: 20-17 with three turnovers for each team and a missed field goal somewhere in there. Really, you don’t know what’s going to happen in this game either since Georgia Tech is still attempting to pick up the triple-option, Virginia Tech’s defense is still fishily inexperienced and young, and that Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor combined equal 70 percent of a competent quarterback together. Sing along!

Sean Glennon throws it in the ground.


HOLLY, IRRATIONAL: Georgia Tech. I'ma ride this BEEEEEEEES!! streak until the Stingbone offense gives me reason not to. Just try it at your desk. Go on. Stand up, wave your arms like a startled E.T., and yell it. Don't you feel better?

Michigan @ Notre Dame

ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: Michigan. As bad as both teams will look, Michigan will look better because of the feints, misdirections, and screens built into the Rodriguez offense playing out against the constant hail of blitzes from Notre Dame and TAH-NOO-TAH. But yes, on the whole this will be a cripple fight that Big Ten Alternate Reality Orson would reference as the end of his youth, but with the crucial difference being that he would do this while wearing a sweatshirt and without a considerable increase in already intense alcohol consumption. Oh, and I’d be straight I MEAN GAY. Yes, gay.

HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: Michigan, walking away with this week's "Will win by virtue of a) showing up, and b) bringing a football team with them" accolades.

Rice @ Vanderbilt

ORSON, IRRATIONAL: Vanderbilt. Vandy will roll because, having picked against them two weeks in a row, we want to see how badly they’ll lose now that we’re on board and saying insane things like “Vanderbilt: LIBERTY BOWL CHAMPIONS!”

HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: Vanderbilt. I'm not prepared, emotionally, for this level of parity in the SEC. Last week was supposed to be their Real Test As A Football Team, but they played South Carolina, so it's hard to tell.

Southern Miss @ Arkansas State

ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL: Southern Miss actually didn’t look terrible against Auburn, as the score was deceptive except for the “superior talent manifested numerically” thing.

HOLLY, QUASI-RATIONAL: Arkansas State. You won't have seen much of them on TV, but be warned: this is one of those smaller schools with a deceptively pesky squad (see: Louisiana Tech, Ragin' Cajuns, and Southern Miss itself).

#10 Wisconsin @ #21 Fresno State

SWINDLE, IRRATIONAL: Fresno State. Wisconsin enjoys this poll buoyancy as the third banana of the Big Ten that we can only explain with their performances in bowl games and active, effective lobbying of voters by Bucky the Badger. (Just stands in window, staring with his wise, beady eyes for exactly one minute at 3 in the morning. When you wake up, he nods knowingly, and then walks away silently.)

This game screams early season misstep for Wisconsin. First, it’s in Fresno, which is weird; second, it’s out-of-conference, and therefore highly unpredictable; third, this team is a slow starter, which is fine against Marshall but potentially deadly against a quality opponent like Fresno. They’re probably the better team, but the question is whether they’ll wake up in time to lean on Fresno with the hormone-fed beef on their offensive line and win.

9:58:08 AM Swindle: Marshall up 14-7 over Wisconsin in Camp Randall.
10:01:03 AM Holly: !
10:01:20 AM Holly: Remind me why I was bullish on Wisconsin 2 weeks ago?
10:01:38 AM Holly: Oh, yes. Here it is. "Coach's head = perfect trapezoid." Bad idea.
10:01:58 AM Swindle: That's perfectly sound reasoning: he just let you down.
10:02:08 AM Holly:'re RIGHT.

Bieleleeema came through big in the end, and I will trust in his singular geometry. For now.