by Mick Dumke
"Don't worry—they always kick ass when they have a new coach. They should be imploding the middle of next year."
"Those arrogant, sanctimonious pricks."
Still, the comment that really got to me came from the Michigan State product I happen to live with. I was innocently washing the dishes the other night when she said:
"You're responsible for this, you know."
She wasn't talking about the melted cheese stuck to the pan. The words are burned into my consciousness.
I protested all I could—there are so many other possible explanations for the fix we're in. The Big Ten's down. Oklahoma didn't do what it could have done. Pitt had them on the ropes and blew it. Everybody gets lucky 11 times a year.
In the end, though, I have to admit my own responsibility.
Among my favorite teams are whoever's playing the Irish that week. Worse, in the hopefulness of early September, I went so far as to put it in writing: If only Notre Dame would lose them all.
I must be related to that guy Murphy who had the law named after him, because when I start rooting for a team, its fortunes generally go to hell.
Naturally, Notre Dame is now 11-0, ranked No. 1, and poised to play for a national title—as long as they can get past an underperforming, beat-up USC outfit this weekend.
For the sake of us all, I'm not saying a word.
On to the games.
No. 18 Texas over TCU: Yet I for one am thankful for the existence of the Horned Frog.
No. 17 Nebraska over Iowa: The Huskers are rolling; the Hawkeyes are sliding; and the universe, like the Big Ten, is expanding.
Northwestern over Illinois: The Cats have been bad in the fourth quarter. The Illini have been bad in all four quarters.
Indiana over Purdue: In sizing up a battle between the inexperienced and the inconsistent, I'll hesitate and waver.
Michigan State over Minnesota: Perhaps if the Spartans catch the ball, avoid fumbling, and score some points, they might avoid their fifth loss by less than a touchdown.
Penn State over Wisconsin: This is the closest thing Penn State will get to a bowl game this year. Meanwhile, Wisconsin sucks.
No. 4 Ohio State over No. 20 Michigan: I'm getting tired of this shit.
No. 24 Northern Illinois over Eastern Michigan: The Huskies are a point short of a perfect season. Eastern is a season short.
No. 12 Clemson over No. 13 South Carolina: They could each score five times apiece—before the half.
No. 6 Florida over No. 10 Florida State / No. 5 Oregon over No. 16 Oregon State / No. 14 Oklahoma over No. 22 Oklahoma State: I dig rivalry weekend. Who doesn't love a good family squabble?
No. 11 Stanford over No. 15 UCLA: The Cardinal play what's known in official circles as Some Mutherfuckin D.
No. 1 (gulp) Notre Dame over USC: Still, the Lord your God is a merciful God.