Michigan @ #10 Ohio State
ORSON, QUASI-RATIONAL. Two hypothetical scenarios automatically invoke giggles of free-radical schadenfreude molecules collecting in the lungs and brain: Michigan somehow beating Ohio State this week, and Alabama somehow losing to Auburn next week.
We really don't care who wins in either one, but the complete explosive disaster of either scenario is just brilliantly compelling to someone fascinated with crashes and explosions of all kinds. Ohio State can avoid this by playing offense against Michigan's defense, who will give up long spectacular yards passing to a freelancing Terrelle Pryor.
HOLLY, HATEFUL BUT RATIONAL: This matchup might actually be interesting in a couple years when RichRod and Pryor are fully gestated in their new homes. Not this season, though. And not just because it's being played in Columbus (although that doesn't help). What does help: Michigan having a worse record than Tennessee. Hee.
Tennessee @ Vanderbilt
HOLLY, WAITING FOR DEATH: I'm sorry, the above should read "Michigan has a worse record than Tennessee until Tennessee loses to Vanderbilt, which they will. Lose. To Vanderbilt." Except that Michigan kicks off a half hour earlier, so by the time we're 3-8, they'll be 3-9. This one thought will be all that sustains me tomorrow.
ORSON, IRRATIONAL. Vanderbilt, big against a Tennessee team in complete tattershambles. Saying anything else would spoil the delight of typing those words with a certainty approaching geological fact.
Citadel @ #4 Florida
HOLLY, INCREDULOUS: [derisive giggle]
ORSON, COMPLETELY CREDULOUS. Don't laugh. They've been pointing and cameras and booming the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean for months, dog. They ready.
Washington @ Washington State
ORSON, AVERTING EYES. Washington is a dynamic state in the Northwestern part of the United States. It has [clears throat, looks at girl he likes in back of room] the Cascade Mountains. It has the strait of Juan de Fuca. They grow lots of ap-ap-ap-ap-apples there. It is named for our nation's first President. [realizes he has erection in front of entire class.] The capital is Ta-coma. [considers crying]
Teacher: Young anachronistic Orson, did you just copy this from Wikipedia?
Young anachronistic Orson: Um, no. I wouldn't do that. I can tell you something...um...that idn't in there.
Teacher: Go ahead.
Orson: They have two college football teams in division one. Washington State and Washington. [erection instantly disappears]
HOLLY, STILL STUCK ON THE CITADEL THING: I mean, there's a point where it's not even funny to watch for schadenfreude's sake, am I right?
OK. Washington. What you're going to need to do: Locate a sizable gold nugget in a tranquil Colorado stream. Book a flight to Florence, where descendants of Benvenuto Cellini still operate a goldsmith in the Ponte Vecchio. Have the oldest man there hammer your nugget into a disc, and etch "La Douleur Exquise" onto one side and "The Old Man and the Sea" onto the other. Flip that coin, and go with God. (The Old Man and the Sea represents the Huskies, natch; something tells me Ty Willingham's pretty fucking handy with a harpoon.)
#15 Michigan State @ #8 Penn State
HOLLY, SICK TO DEATH OF NITTY KITTY BITCHING AND IT'S ONLY BEEN A WEEK: Christ Almighty, Penn State, put a hardtack biscuit in it already. You poor bastards with your Rose Bowl berth, how do you find the strength to go on? I could cry. Really, I could---look! Look there! A tiny tear of sympathy, winding its way---no. No, I'm sorry, that's liquid contempt. My sincere apologies.
ORSON, TEMPERAMENTALLY BIASED. There's something great about a tightass like Mark Dantonio gritting his teeth through a loss while his Ohio State discount clone of a team butts its head pointlessly against the wall of Penn State's defense. When the game has concluded and MSU loses to Penn State, perhaps he will consider making them wear ties on the field, as well, just to drive the need for doing the little things perfectly a bit further into their message-bludgeoned skulls.
(If there were some way of having Michigan State face Mike Leach in a bowl game, we would pay the necessary criminal prices for this ticket. The contrast would be worth it.)
Illinois @ Northwestern
ORSON, COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL. Better ingredients! Inferior execution! [NAME REDACTED] fails to grab the cock of victory as he continues to run his own version of an all-local, all-organic gastropub with a palsied cook who refuses to admit both his lack of vision in one eye or inability to chop even garlic without chopping off the tips of his fingers. This is an elaborate metaphor indicating an inability to process and develop talent, but an ability to recognize the produce. It refers to [NAME REDACTED]. Pat Fitzgerald, the better coach, wins at home.
HOLLY, CRITTER-RATIONAL: I can't ever see Arrelious Benn on the field without picturing his curious otter spirit guide flanking him. Numbers, right: The Illini are a top-20 squad in both passing yards and total yards, and they're 5-6. Northwestern's red zone defense is a reliable one. Benn is going home a sad otter.
#14 Brigham Young @ #7 Utah
HOLLY, NONCOMMITAL AND UNCARING: Cougars victorious = possibility of a 3-way MWC tie! Utes victorious = Boise State has some competition in the BCS Scrappiness sideshow! Either way, after Saturday we're probably going to have to leave off mocking one team from Utah. Sorry, internet.
ORSON, GAY-ISH. We find the marriage of BYU and success in this game distasteful, and seek to redefine them as a losing team for the week because...well, if they win, then you can marry a turtle? (WTF?)
#20 Pittsburgh @ #19 Cincinnati
ORSON, CASTING PIXIE STICKS TO THE WIND AND READING THEM FOR CLUES IN THE WIND. We've become a convert to two notions: that Dave Wannstedt might not completely suck as a college football coach and may, yes, indeed be approaching the boundary of "good for 2008," and that LeSean McCoy's programming may not allow him to come off the field at any point. Both have us leaning Pitt. Throw in Brian Kelly flashing his garters at Tennessee, and the distractions only tip us further towards--gaaahhhhhggghhhh---picking Pitt here.
HOLLY, CLEARLY MAKING NO PRETENSE AT RATIONALITY AT ALL THIS WEEK: Here's the thing about the Wannstache. He always looks furiously miserable, no matter the action on the field. It had escaped my attention that the Panthers are 7-2 because every time you lay eyes on the guy the safe assumption seems to be that something's going dreadfully wrong.
Florida State @ #25 Maryland
HOLLY, THIS IS THE ACC-RATIONAL: No matter what we pick here, it's going to be wrong. Even if we pick different teams, we will both be wrong. Please accept the following hand turkey as my scientific assessment of this fine ACC matchup.
ORSON, FLIPPING COIN AGAIN. Maryland won last week. This means they lose this week. The ACC is easy!
#2 Texas Tech @ #5 Oklahoma
ORSON, BEREFT OF ANY REASONS TO DIFFERENTIATE HERE. The same game has been played three times now: Texas/OU, Texas/Texas Tech, and now Texas Tech/OU. In each case, you rush the passer, and get them to make one--nay, a half of one--mistake, and the other team holds serve and gets advantage on the other team.
We stand a point with Texas Tech where people have now, in watching them disintegrate all that lays before them, forgotten how they lose: by allowing gusting breezes of points, by getting their receivers hung up in disciplined physical schemes, and by losing at the point of attack. Oklahoma can do a few of these things, and it's at home. Otherwise, this is Robot Jox: machinery flying out of control in all directions, stray ordnance going into the stands, and all three Big 12 powers left in the rubble afterwards wondering what just happened to the national championship scene.
Robot Jox: the only appropriate metaphor for two Big 12 teams playing each other in 2008.
HOLLY, FISHY-RATIONAL: "If Texas Tech can run now, too, that's not really fair." Hinton says it best, which is what he's good at. You know that scene in Finding Nemo where the heroes slowly realize they're surrounded on all sides by jellyfish? Watching Texas Tech the last month or so feels a lot like that.