(For additional background, please read my write-up on Sports as a Religion.)
As members of the Holy Church of College Football offer up their prayers to the Powers That Be for Saturday's games, our temples are being prepared for worship and our deities are readying themselves for most-honorable battle.
But alas, my children, not all the prayers that are offered up to the Powers That Be will be heard. They are very select with whom they choose to hear. Some will be rewarded with victory, while others face the shame of defeat.
As a humble monk of the Religion of Sport, I offer up to you my prophecy of which prayers will be heard and which are ignored.
Illinois at Wisconsin
One disappointment must beat the other disappointment. It's unfortunate that both couldn't lose together to continue their disappointing seasons, but Illinois will emerge victorious and possibly salvage something from a disappointing season.
Illinois: prayer heard.
No. 8 Texas Tech at No. 19 Kansas
A surprisingly intriguing matchup, to say the least. Texas Tech is (somehow) ranked in the top 10, where Kansas was thought to belong if they had found a way to beat South Florida. But Tech was nearly beaten by a rebuilding Nebraska team in overtime and went into halftime down to an awful Texas A&M team.
Kansas hasn't been overly impressive yet and can't seem to rediscover that magic from last season. But Kansas will pull off the "upset" only because they're the stronger team.
Texas Tech: prayer ignored.
Baylor at Nebraska
I'm assuming no one but me cares about this game. But I'll be there Saturday, cheering on my Huskers and seeing Baylor for the second week in a row (after my trip to Stillwater last week). Nebraska comes out on top and gains momentum for the rest of the season. Thanks again for the boost, Baylor.
Nebraska: prayer heard.
No. 4 Oklahoma at Kansas State
The Sooners are rolling after a tough loss to the top-ranked Longhorns, coming off a strong win over Kansas last weekend. Kansas State is...sub-par, to say the least. Some have called this a trap game, but Oklahoma keeps on rolling to another victory.
Kansas State: prayer ignored.
UCLA at California
Neither team has produced much this year as both programs hope to bounce back soon. UCLA is south of .500 but is past most of their largest obstacles. Cal is looking to break back into contention with a win but is on the verge of beginning a tough stretch against Oregon, USC, and Oregon State. California wins to gain necessary momentum.
UCLA: prayer ignored.
Virginia Tech at No. 24 Florida State
The Seminoles are showing signs of life as Beamer Ball appears to be sputtering out. Florida State has much to prove, and Va Tech just wants to get it over with. Florida State wins to stay in the top 25.
Florida State: prayer heard.
Michigan State at Michigan
Rich Rodriguez is still being punished for abandoning the state of West Virginia in such an unholy manner. Maybe the Michigan job isn't so glamorous after all. This one's a no-brainer. Home field advantage for Michigan is now nonexistent.
Michigan State: prayer heard.
Colorado at No. 16 Missouri
Reeling from consecutive losses to superior teams, the Tigers will be out for blood. A win for Colorado rejuvenates their season and throws the Big 12 North into a frenzy. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, they haven't yet figured out their quarterback situation and are as vulnerable as ever to the fury of Chase Daniel and Missouri. The Buffs will get pounded in Columbia.
Colorado: prayer ignored.
Ole Miss at Arkansas
With several near-upsets following the big one over Florida, Ole Miss is looking to get a solid win. Arkansas is looking for a solid anything—but they won't find it against the Rebels.
Ole Miss: prayer heard.
Texas A&M at Iowa State
If you could offer up a worse game, I would reward you handsomely. The two scrapping for the bottom of America's strongest conference are equally faced with a must-win situation. Two first-year head coaches look to salvage something they can use to rebuild for next year. Unfortunately for the Aggies, Iowa State is a little less terrible.
Iowa State: prayer heard.
Oregon at Arizona State
The Ducks look to stay alive in the Pac-10 against an atrocious Sun Devils team. Even though the game is in Tempe, the Ducks roll to remain competitive in conference.
Arizona State: prayer ignored.
No. 9 Georgia at No. 11 LSU
The Tigers haven't done everything so far this season the way they would have wanted, but neither have the Bulldogs. In any battle of SEC powers, the outcome could go either way. This time fate swings in favor of the Tigers.
LSU: prayer heard.
No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 1 Texas
A powerful Cowboys team surges into Austin to face the top-ranked Longhorns, led by one of the country's most efficient passers, Colt McCoy. Texas magic seems to be at an all-time high, but could this best-ever OSU team pull off a tremendous upset? In a shootout, Oklahoma State falls just short of victory but will not be docked too hard by the polls, so they stay in contention.
Oklahoma State: prayer ignored.
(but I still love you, Oklahoma State)
No. 3 Penn State at No. 10 Ohio State
In the most anticipated matchup of the weekend (for anyone not in America's strongest conference, the Big 12), a great Penn State team visits the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe. Both teams have something to prove to America, but Penn State has much more to lose. Though they appear to be stronger on paper, the field proves to be the best judge, and Penn State takes its first loss.
Ohio State: prayer heard.
And my stab-in-the-dark-attempt-to-interpret-the-Powers-That-Be pick...
No. 6 USC at Arizona
There are extreme situations where the PTB step in to dish out vindication for the people. Such is the case of the overrated Trojans. After a loss to an unranked (but talented) Oregon State team, USC still managed not to drop too far and hang around near the top five. Fair? No. Ohio State certainly thinks not.
If the PTB feels the time is right to strike down the abomination that is USC, Arizona takes the victory and the upset.
Arizona: pray hard Saturday.
USC: repent. Or else.
The big winner of the weekend: No. 22 Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane (landlocked Oklahoma team has a "hurricane" as a mascot...interesting...) have the top-ranked offense in the country and look to go 8-0. There is little left to slow them down from going 12-0 and no indication that their offense will score less than their 56.6 ppg average. UCF certainly isn't going to stop them on Sunday.
Playing good football in a horrible conference gets a fairly talented team national recognition. But just put Tulsa in the Big 12 and see how long they last. Heck, stick 'em in the Pac-10 for a week, and they'll beat USC.
Comments? Alternative prophecies?