It was a horrible day for a daring football prognosticator who swore Notre Dame was over-rated, who was sure the Gators were worthy of being ranked No. 2 and who predicted the Lions could best the Buckeyes at home in Happy Valley.
Like Icarus who flew too close to the sun—Mighty Zultan came too close to perfection. The Football Gods torched his flammable cloak, sending the All-Seeing One headlong into the sink hole of also-rans—where the rest of you dwell.
Except, of course the dozen or so of you who out-guessed Zultan last Saturday.
These distinguished prognosticators will be listed at the end of this article with appropriate kudos for rising above Zultan in Week 9.
Week 10 promises even more untold surprises.
What unlucky unbeaten will fall? Will Nebraska manage to sustain their slight lead and win on the road? Can LSU change the course of football history in 2012? Who knows??
Zultan was mortally wounded in Week 9—managing to hang on at 5-5. He staggered under the weight of expectation. Can he exceed that mark? Make your own picks in Week 10—and go head-to-head with Zultan to defend your choices.
Game 1: Iowa Hawkeyes at Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana (3-5) scored a big win last weekend over Illinois—the Hoosiers’ first win in the Big Ten.
Fielding one of the biggest offenses in the Big Ten— after coming close so many times—Indiana will try to extend their feel-good triumph by defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes at home.
Iowa (4-4) comes into Bloomington after a lackluster performance against the Northwestern Wildcats. The Hawkeyes need to win this game to insure hope for a bowl game of any sort.
Hopefully the Hawkeye walking wounded will return to the lineup this Saturday.
Even though the Hoosiers will sport a new-found confidence after their first Big Ten win—hopefully, the Hawks can soar again. Once more for Mom.
Game 2: (20) Nebraska Cornhuskers at Michigan State Spartans
This game is one of several puzzlers for Zultan as he tries to make sense of Big Ten football this year. Forget global warming, here is a real unfathomable mystery. Who might be good this year in the Big Ten? It varies from week to week—except for Ohio State who remains a non-factor in post-season play.
Last week, after knocking Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson out of the game, No. 20 Nebraska (6-2) defeated Michigan in Lincoln. At the same time, Michigan State (5-4) ripped the rug out from under Wisconsin in OT, winning the game during the last ticks of the clock.
Nebraska comes into East Lansing to play Michigan State whose defense should contain the Huskers if the unit is not stuck on the field for the whole game. The real question remains—can the Spartans mount an offense? It looked promising last weekend at the end of their game against Wisconsin.
At home against the Huskers with a trip to a bowl game on the line…
Pick Michigan State
Game 3: Michigan Wolverines at Minnesota Gophers
Another tough pick, especially since we are unsure of the status of Denard Robinson, Michigan’s premiere quarterback who was knocked out the Wolverine’s game with Nebraska last Saturday. Without Robinson, Michigan (5-3) is just mediocre at best.
Minnesota (5-3) played great ball last Saturday, outgunning Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis 44-28. Turnovers gave the Gophers quite a boost during the game. Their half-time lead proved too much for the Boilermakers to overcome in the second half.
With Denard Robinson, however, Michigan fields a better team on both sides of the ball—despite their loss against the Nebraska Cornhuskers last Saturday.
Game 4: Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio State Buckeyes
Surely there is no question here.
As long as Ohio State (9-0) doesn’t make the mistake of trying to phone in this performance, the Buckeyes should take care of Illinois (2-6) without too much worry for the vocal Buckeye fans in the stands.
Ohio State remains perfect this season while the Fighting Illini have a long way to go to achieve success. But, never discount this team whose season could be salvaged with a win over the unbeaten Buckeyes.
Still—the crystal ball predicts that will not happen.
Pick Ohio State.
Game 5: Penn St Nittany Lions at Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue (3-5) has been on the verge of victory so many times this season. The Boiler’s record does not truly indicate their gridiron capabilities—except for the fact that they cannot close out a win.
This is, however, a disastrous shortcoming, needing immediate change.
Last weekend, moreover, the Boilers suffered from multiple turnovers handing the game over to the Minnesota Gophers in the first half. Purdue must not repeat this trend against a highly disciplined Penn State team.
Penn State (5-3) could not bring down Ohio State in Happy Valley last Saturday. The Lions did not play a bad game—they were just not as good as Ohio State. If the Lions can keep that loss in perspective, Penn State should leave Ross-Ade Stadium with a victory over Purdue.
Pick Penn State
Game 6: (16) Texas A&M Aggies at (15) Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mississippi State (7-1) lost their first football game of the season as they faced the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama. They lost 38-7, not scoring in the game until the last five minutes. The outcome, needless to say, was never in doubt.
Texas A&M (6-2) stomped on Auburn last Saturday, revealing emphatically the condition of the Tigers in 2012. The Aggies have lost twice this season—to No. 24 Florida State in Week 2 and to LSU in Week 9.
This week the Aggies must travel to Starkville to face the Bulldogs—fighting it out with LSU for the No. 2 spot in the SEC West—with no team wishing to finish lower.
To date Mississippi State has not played a ranked team except Alabama. The Bulldogs turned out to be powerless against the Crimson Tide.
Texas A&M has lost to two ranked opponents but did secure a win over a ranked Louisiana Tech.
But since the Bulldogs are at home…
Pick Mississippi State.
Game 7: (4) Oregon Ducks at (17) USC Trojans
Somehow the BCS’ cyclical reasoning has seen the Oregon Ducks (8-0) shunted to the No. 4 spot while the SEC gains ground playing against itself.
Zultan sees a big hole in the ranking system.
Nonetheless, the Ducks will have an opportunity to prove their worth this coming weekend. All they have to do is defeat an angry USC team in the Coliseum.
Easy enough? You have to remember that being upset by USC last year cost the Ducks a shot at playing for the national championship. Ducks do not forgive or forget.
Last weekend USC (6-2) was upset by Arizona 39-36 as turnovers cost the Trojans. But this weekend USC will be at home with all their senses attuned to defeating Oregon. Oregon ran over Colorado last Saturday, 70-14 in a game not as close as the score indicates. It was a mammoth blowout.
This Saturday it will be much closer for the Ducks.
Game 8: (1) Alabama Crimson Tide at (5) LSU Tigers
Last year these two teams were vying for the national championship as Alabama and LSU met in the BCS title game. It was not a happy ending for the Tigers.
This Saturday they meet in Baton Rouge playing for the lead in the SEC West gaining a considerable leg up for BCS consideration.
Last Saturday Alabama (8-0) took care of previously unbeaten Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa 38-7. So far this season the Crimson Tide has not been challenged on the gridiron. LSU, however, will challenge them.
LSU (7-1) suffered one defeat this season—to the Florida Gators 14-6. It was a defensive struggle in the trenches, so to speak. LSU has eased past a couple of teams rarely dominating action on the field.
LSU is not the same team they were a year ago. Alabama is—and then some.
Game 9: (23) Texas Long Horns at (18) Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech (6-2) welcomes Texas (6-2) into Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday with both teams trying to keep their hopes alive for a Big 12 title. That dream, however, seems to be receding into the sunset as Kansas State saunters toward the finish line—so far unscathed.
Last Saturday Texas held on to defeat Kansas as the game clock ticked down. This while Texas Tech was busy turning the ball over to Kansas State, suffering a big defeat at the hands of the Wildcats.
The Red Raiders have a big offense yet suffer on defense, allowing too many points by the opposition.
On paper, this game belongs to Texas Tech. Zultan loves paper…
Pick Texas Tech
Game 10: (13) Clemson Tigers at Duke Blue Devils
In the meantime, the ACC lives on in BCS Land through the efforts of Clemson and Florida State.
In Week 8, the Duke Blue Devils became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. That happened when the Blue Devils played North Carolina—not against Florida State. Against the Seminoles, Duke got slammed 48-7. Duke may win a couple more times but not next weekend when they face Clemson.
The Clemson Tigers (7-1) won against Wake Forest last Saturday 42-13. Their only loss this season was at the hands of (9) Florida State. Duke, who remains tied for the top spot in the Coastal Division, will not be able to stop Clemson even in their own back yard.
Last week Zultan went 5-5, losing more picks than he has all season—in fact during the last two seasons. A dozen who challenged the All-Seeing Seer outguessed him. But no one was perfect or even missed by one.
One fellow prognosticator missed two, followed by two who missed three picks and eight went 6-4. These are the brilliant soothsayers who outshone Zultan in Week 9. Kudos! sojourners.
Kathi Sparks – No city given
Lenny Cossman, Jr – Parkersburg, IA
Chris Seberg – New Brighton, MA
Patrick Elliott – Ottumwa, IA
David May – Casselberry, FL
Robert Reihm – Encinitas, CA
Dennis Ristau – Eleva, WI
John Snyder – Huntington Beach, CA
Carl Spackler – Wakefield, MA
Carl Stine – Kingman, AZ
Dean Studt – Rockledge, FL
Skipper Woodham – Atlanta, GA