The hardest predictions to make are those in which you have a personal interest as a fan.
I don’t see this conflict of interest much with most popular analysts, but one glaring exception is Kirk Herbstreit.
Herbstreit is a Buckeye for life. He was a four-year letter-winning quarterback at Ohio State, and hasn't shed his love for his University since.
For a 2006 game against the Penn State Nittany Lions, Herbstreit—as part of his role for ESPN College Gameday—brought his entire family in full OSU apparel over to the stage and picked OSU to win.
Like he would ever actually pick against his team...
Which brings me to the rather large conundrum I ran into in preparing for the BCS Championship Game on Monday.
To come up with a preview for the game that would both show some journalistic integrity (though that is a relative term) while preserving my obvious allegiance to Ohio State.
Let’s just call this problem the objective writer versus the fan.
While the objective writer in me proposed compiling a list of positives and negatives for each team, weighing statistics, previous performances, and strength of schedules, the fan was much more straightforward.
The fan in me said, “I don’t care about all of this numbers bullshit. I don’t care that we’re 0-8 against the SEC. I don’t give a flying you know what about an LSU Tiger. Lions are the real kings of the jungle. I bet you most of the LSU players don’t even know how to spell S-E-C S-P-E-E-D. And if you even think about picking LSU over me for one second, I will kill you. Like, you dead dawg.”
Needless to say, the fan in me was much more aggressive in his approach.
Think about this as a diehard fan: If there’s a game you have a chance to win—even if the chances are minuscule, like they were for Hawaii or Illinois—there's an extremely high probability that your gut is going to go with the guys you’ve grown up with.
There’s always that hope that an upset can happen. And if it does, the feeling is unparalleled in sport.
Just think about being that one Appalachian State fan in the Big House who suddenly owned over 100,000 people.
And let's be honest: It would be blasphemous to pick against your own team in a game they end up winning.
In my particular case, the internal struggle between the writer and the fan was no contest. The fan in me was much more persuasive—and hell, I’m not even a journalist anyways.
Besides, once I started to bleed Scarlet and Gray from my pores as I debated with myself, I kind of got the memo.
I know I’ll certainly create a few enemies with this outlandish prediction—LSU fans will want to kill me, everyone else will advise that I seek some form of medical attention—but here it goes...
The unofficial betting line for the Championship Game makes Ohio State a five-point underdog, which is fine. If I were a betting man, I’d certainly take OSU as a five-point underdog. Seems rational.
I’d also take the Buckeyes if they were five-point favorites. That’s not the most rational thought, but it's not crazy or anything.
But here’s the catch:
Even if LSU were given 50 points, I’d still take the Buckeyes. And you know why?
Because Ohio State is marching down into enemy waters at the New Orleans Superdome and obliterating the Tigers 60-3, give or take a few points.
LSU has never seen anything as pretty as Chris Wells. Wells, the impenetrable, impregnable, (almost) invincible, indomitable I-Back who inspires immense irritability in defensive coordinators across the country, will run for approximately 500 yards and four touchdowns as the Tigers defenders are relentlessly punished for making fun of his nickname, “Beanie.”
James Laurinaitis, meanwhile, will finally release that fury instilled in him by his dad, the former pro wrestler affectionately known as “Road Warrior Animal.” This will probably result in a few unsportsmanlike penalties as Mr. Laurinaitis performs the gorilla press drop and the right-hand punch with brass knuckles—two of Animal's signature moves—as an ode to his father.
Nevertheless, the damage will be done, as those speedy LSU skill players everyone talks about will be dropping balls left and right.
But those skill players would have little or no chance anyways, because of the putrid performance we can expect from LSU senior quarterback Matt Flynn.
Early on in the season, Flynn was one of the more popular figures in college football for his propensity to win big games in the clutch and his uncanny resemblance to Matt Damon. But can there be much said about the latter half of the year?
No, not really. Let’s just say Mr. Flynn had better watch out for Vernon Gholston and his arms.
Remember too that Les Miles is a Michigan Man. Given the historical success of Michigan men against Ohio State in the 21st century, this doesn’t bode too well for LSU fans.
Luckeyes, Suckeyes, Chumpeyes, Dumpeyes, Slowhio—whatever cute little insult you have for the team, the Buckeyes are winning 60-3...and you heard it from this irrational Buckeye fan first.
The objective writer in me is now going to drown himself. In fact, I won’t have to worry, because I’m sure some LSU fan will have already told me to do so.
Enjoy the BCS Championship Game. Look for a fitting end to a crazy season.