October 1, 2011
Headline: The mighty Zultan finally escaped captivity just in time to forecast the results of the first Big Ten conference games of the 2011 season.
The all-seeing seer was being held against his will in a cornfield outside of Lincoln where the gridiron guru was forced to time Taylor Martinez trying to out zigzag Jared Crick down 500 rows of corn...brutal stuff.
Eventually, however, without ever giving in to the Cornhusker demand to be picked as the winner in their opener over Wisconsin, the mighty Zultan vamoosed down Interstate 80, the most boring stretch of road in existence linking many Legends and Leaders locales.
Back in Mom’s garage, the most proficient football prognosticator plugged in at long last, ready to surge ahead picking winners as conference rivalries simmered, ready to boil.
But something was terribly wrong, the all-seeing one noted as his turban burst into flames.
After the pain subsided from short circuiting during his initial trace, Zultan realized that all Hades had broken loose in his absence as football teams abandoned traditional conference alliances to bolt to other, greener conference pastures half a continent away.
The shifting landscape pulled all the wires loose—so much for geographical proximity and cultural similarities.
As Zultan predicts winners of college football contests this Saturday, you need to be aware that the economy struck the prognosticator, leaving him poverty stricken. There will be no prizes for this contest, just the satisfaction of besting the mighty Zultan.
So do you feel lucky? If so, click here, and enter the contest for this week. If you do better than Zultan, I will list your name in the next contest.
Be brave—what have you got to lose?
Game 1: Big Ten - Minnesota (1-3) at (19) Michigan (4-0)
Welcome to the Big Ten, Jerry Kill. Nobody said it was gonna be easy, now did they? Still, you gotta like the big guy! Let him get his feet under him and his seizures under control and do what Kill does best—coach football. Losing to North Dakota State has to hurt big time and now traveling to face Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines won’t help. There is no way Minnesota can win this one on the road. Michigan is newly inspired and ranked now. They will be smugly secure in Ann Arbor. Kill will have his day one day soon.
Game 2: Big Ten - Penn State (3-1) at Indiana (1-3)
The battle of the quarterbacks takes to the road in the opening week of Big Ten play for the Penn State Nittany Lions as they travel to Indiana to face the Hoosiers who lost to North Texas 24-21 last weekend. The Hoosiers trailed 24-0 before coming to life in the fourth quarter—scoring 21 points in the last 15 minutes. Close but no cigar.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin came into the Penn State game against Eastern Michigan, sparking the offense into scoring a bunch of points. McGloin threw for 220 yards including three touchdowns. Starting the game was sophomore Rob Bolden whose early play was lacking. As long as it works, look for Penn State to rotate these two in and out, depending on who is clicking that day. Either one should be fine to take care of Indiana on Saturday.
Pick: Penn State
Game 3: Big Ten - Michigan St (3-1) at Ohio State (3-1)
Something does not smell right in the Big Ten. It seems very bizarre that neither of these two teams that tied for the Big Ten title last season are ranked heading into conference play in 2011.
It could be that the off-season debacle that marred the 2011 season for the Buckeyes, left the team off-kilter—not quite clicking on their normal well-oiled cylinders. The Ohio State loss to the Miami Hurricanes was just the wake-up this program needed. Maybe newly throned quarterback Braxton Miller will be the tonic the offense needs to progress through the season.
Michigan State began their stand out season last year by upending Notre Dame in overtime. This year, however, there was no magic visible for the Spartans as they fell limply to God’s team 31-13. Traveling to the horseshoe is never easy, although the Spartans picked the best time possible to do it. In the end, Ohio State finds a way.
Pick: Ohio State
Game 4: Big Ten - Northwestern (2-1) at (24) Illinois (4-0)
Yes, the rumor is that quarterback Dan Persa is returning to the Northwestern pocket. This is the same Wildcat quarterback who ruined Iowa’s season in 2010, starting a Hawkeye collapse of staggering proportions.
Persa has been sidelined with a ruptured Achilles tendon since that fateful game last November. Persa may be the spark Northwestern needs but he will not be enough to overcome the Illini led by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Illinois may just be the surprise team of 2011 in the Big Ten.
Game 5: Big Ten - (8) Nebraska (4-0) at (7) Wisconsin (4-0)
This is the big game in the Big Ten in Week 5. The Nebraska Cornhuskers must travel to Camp Randall to face the Badgers who appear, early on, to the be best team in the Big Ten. While both teams are unbeaten, Wisconsin is also untested at this point, dominating with their running game aided by their offensive line.
While the Huskers shine on defense, so far, their offense has not been spectacular, merely passable. The big strike against Nebraska is that they must face the Badgers in their backyard—not in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Welcome to the Big Ten, Cornhuskers!
Game 6: Big Ten - Notre Dame (2-2) at Purdue (2-1)
Last year Purdue had to send in oversized tuba players to cover on special teams because the football team was decimated with injuries. The Boilers limped through the season. This year, players are slowly returning to their anointed places, including Robert Marve, quarterback.
Marve engineered a 59-0 win over SE Missouri State last week which was seen as a rebirth of the Purdue offense—absent for almost a season. This fact, plus a bye week will be impetus to try to defeat vaunted Notre Dame team.
Notre Dame, which started the year with two losses, has defeated both Michigan State and Pittsburgh in back-to-back weeks. Perhaps, the Irish are recovering from early season jitters and are growing into being Notre Dame. You wanna pick Purdue at home but this time, the Gods will prevail.
Pick: Notre Dame
Game 7: SEC - (3) Alabama (4-0) at (12) Florida (4-0)
There is lots of talking about this SEC match-up on Saturday night but in the final analysis, talking won’t be the determining factor. “Defense” will and the nod must go to Alabama on that score. Even though the Florida Gators are ranked fifth nationally on defense, the Tide is ranked second behind Michigan State.
Alabama made Arkansas look anemic last weekend defeating the Razorbacks 38-14. The Tide’s defense shut down a powerful offense—one as potent, perhaps, as the Gators.
Florida is sporting a new pro-style offense under the tutelage of Charlie Weis, former coach of Notre Dame. Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have been piling up some big numbers. The odds are they will continue to do so but will be stopped just short of winning this one.
Game 8: ACC - (13) Clemson (4-0) at (11) Virginia Tech (4-0)
Two more unbeaten teams ranked in the top 25 meeting on Saturday—could the day get any better? Clemson has defeated Florida State and Auburn, both ranked, as well as Troy and Wofford coming into this contest on Saturday.
Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has overcome Marshall, Arkansas State, East Carolina and Appalachian State. It will be a classic match-up with the superior offense (Clemson) meeting the superior defense (Virginia Tech).
The focus needs to turn then to the Tiger’s defense and the Hokie offense. This contest will provide an answer as to who is in the driver seat for the conference title early on. Zultan leans heavily on defensive power and on home field advantage.
Pick: Virginia Tech
Game 9: Big 12 & SEC - (14) Texas A&M (2-1) vs. (18) Arkansas (3-1)
So, Texas A&M has scooted over to the SEC starting a domino of exits, ending with the demise of the Big 12. Way to go Aggies! Nothing like a snoot-full of resentment to fuel a fire down in Texas. Next year when Texas A&M plays Arkansas they will be members of the same conference assuming Arkansas stays put.
The Aggies are coming off a big loss to Oklahoma State after leading the Cowboys 20-3. Arkansas was manhandled by Alabama 38-14. Each needs a win to bolster a sagging ego. Both teams offer top-flight offenses and nimble quick defenses.
Even though Arkansas has won their last two meetings and even though they are playing on a neutral site—Cowboy Stadium in Dallas—Arkansas has a harder road back than Texas A & M.
Pick: Texas A&M
Game 10: Big 12 - (17) Texas (3-0) at Iowa State (3-0)
There is a new real McCoy in town—brother of the famous Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. Case McCoy called the shots as Texas defeated UCLA last Saturday 49-20. Did the win mean Texas dominance was once again in full bloom or simply that UCLA was dead in the water? I suspect something mid-way between those two extremes.
Iowa State is also undefeated after scoring a big win in overtime over their in-state rivals , the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Cyclones have also defeated Northern Iowa and Connecticut so far this season. Iowa State is ready under the leadership of Paul Rhoads to take this program one step further by upending the Longhorns.
Last year Iowa State defeated the Longhorns in Texas and they will be looking to do so again in Ames. While all the odds makers pick Texas to win, Zultan thinks that the folks in sold out Jack Trice Stadium in Ames will put the Cyclones over the top.
Pick: Iowa State
(The Iowa Hawkeyes have the week off. But Mom's team will be back next week to begin its arduous task of trying to win the Legends Division. OK, Mom!)