First thing is, I am refusing to agree with Da Boss, Mitch Vingle. I’m a better predictor, and I believe I have whipped his rear end every year since I defected to the Gazette in 2002. So I’m not picking 5-7.
With that in mind, here goes.
Illinois State — Geno Blow scores an early touchdown to cap a 75-yard drive. That only serves to make Rick Minter’s defense really, really mad. The Redbirds play the price. HERD, 34-14
Wisconsin — Welcome to the School of Hard Knocks. BADGERS, 38-17
Memphis — I side with the fans who want a return to 7 p.m. starts, even if it makes my job a little tougher. This game should provide an example, as the Herd keeps the Tigers’ skill players to a low rumble. HERD, 35-24
Southern Miss — The One That Gets Away, Part I. Damion Fletcher and Golden Eagles stud freshman receiver DeAndre Brown yank this one out at the end. GOLDEN EAGLES, 31-27
West Virginia — No. 5 has a big game on both sides. But only Pat White is running for a Heisman this year. MOUNTAINEERS, 45-31
Cincinnati — The One That Gets Away, Part II. The Bearkitties still have a few stars on defense, and Cann throws one to the wrong team in the end zone on a potential game-winning drive. BEARCATS, 24-20
UAB — Refreshed from a 15-day rest, the Herd wears down pesky but outmanned Blazers before 5,000 at Legion Field. HERD, 38-31
Houston — I still think the Cougars have enough skill players to recover from graduation losses. I think the Cougars will have the most improved defense west of Huntington, and I have a hunch they’ll somehow win the West. But they take a Tuesday night step back, courtesy of a Rat Man field goal at the final gun… HERD, 31-28
East Carolina — Simply put, this game is in Greenville and the entire Pirate Purpledom will arrive in a surly mood. If the Herd wins this game, I really, really will be impressed. PIRATES, 13-10
UCF — If you follow Conference USA, you know you have to pick an upset here and there. This one is an Upset Special for homecoming, possibly over the eventual repeat champs. HERD, 20-14
Rice — At this point, the Herd is 5-5 and feeling good about itself. The Owls will be 4-6 if that much, thanks to its matador defense. But I’m not picking the Herd to win in the state of Texas until it does so for the first time. You know, just like the state of South Carolina back in another era. Call this The One That Gets Away, Part III… OWLS, 45-43
Tulsa — The Herd really needs a pick-me-up in the finale to get into a bowl. The Golden Hurricane will enter with the West title on the line and another 600-yards-a-game average. Looks bad, right? Well, yeah, except for two things: (a) it will be 43 degrees and raining sideways and (b) Tulsa’s 3-3-5 defense won’t be very good. I’m invoking the Siberia factor … HERD, 41-39
So you have a wild, wacky 6-6 season. Good enough for a bowl game, but still frustrating. So what do you say we go to the New Orleans Bowl and just laugh about it all? (Yo Gustav, can you take a left turn to Matamoras? Please?)
So… sit back and enjoy!