But then Week 12 found both toppled after reigning one short week. Those SEC football gurus are determined to own the gridiron. They stop at nothing.
Can they do the same to the Big Irish One? Zultan believes, Notre Dame has a direct conduit to the powers that be—the BCS power computers in 2012.
For his part Zultan went 8-2 last week missing on Northwestern’s win and on Oregon’s loss. Only one of you did better than the All-Seeing Seer in Week 12—Kent Gleichman of West Des Moines, IA—who tipped the board at 9-1. Congrats, Ken!
This is the final week of the regular season for most conferences. This will also be Zultan’s last column for 2012 as we all prepare to say adieu to college football for another season—waiting for teams to begin bowling in December.
So make your final picks of the season and hope you finally are able to outguess the Mighty Zultan in Week 13. Zultan will only be highlighting Saturday games so he does not have to forecast Nebraska versus Iowa on Friday—whew. Mom is on the warpath again.
Zultan has enjoyed this conference season picking games. Sayonara, fellow soothsayers.
Game 1: (5) Oregon at (15) Oregon State
Talk about disappointment! Oregon had everything riding on last Saturday’s game and failed to get past Stanford playing at home in Eugene. Meanwhile Oregon State was running roughshod over the Cal Bears. This weekend’s contest will determine whether Oregon still has a shot to play in the BCS Championship Game on January 7.
Then too, much hinges on this game for the PAC-12 overall. Will the Ducks be able to bounce back after such a big downer in Week 12? Will the Beavers feel compassion for their instate rivals.
Zultan thinks not. Oregon State will not prove to be the defensive juggernaut that Stanford was. The Ducks will just fly over the Beaver front line.
PIck Oregon to win on the road.
Game 2: (1) Notre Dame at USC
Now, the team from South Bend stands alone as the No. 1 team in the nation.
Saturday the Irish travel to the Coliseum to play USC for their final game of the regular season. Once Notre Dame clears this hurdle—there is no conference championship game—nothing standing in their way.
USC will be playing without their quarterback Matt Barkley who was hurt in the Trojans game with UCLA last Saturday. The team that was supposed to occupy the No. 1 spot in college football will meet the team which actually is the No. 1 team in the nation—irony.
Without Barkley, however, USC is second best in Zultan’s estimation.
Pick Notre Dame to win on the road.
Game 3: (4) Florida at (10) Florida State
One of the big instate rivalry games on Saturday will feature No. 4 Florida (10-1, 7-1) out of the SEC against No. 10 Florida State (10-1, 7-1) out of the ever-dwindling ACC. The game will be played in Tallahassee—home of the Seminoles.
On paper, these two teams are identical except that the Florida Gators are ranked higher than their esteemed counterpart in the state. The reason? Because the SEC is the premiere conference in the country while the ACC is not.
It appears that the Gators quarterback will be back to play in this game. Because the Gators have a tougher schedule and have met more quality opponents, Zultan feels they will be better prepared for whatever the Seminoles throw at them. ACC vs. SEC?
Pick the Florida Gators to win on the road.
Game 4: (21) Oklahoma State at (13) Oklahoma
This Saturday the Sooners get to stay home in Norman to face instate rivals the Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-3, 5-2). Both teams are ranked in the BCS.
Oklahoma State upended Texas Tech last Saturday to the tune of 59-21, winning five of their last six games.
Neither team can afford another loss because now that Kansas State has lost, with two games remaining—there is an outside chance for a big bowl placement—even the Big 12 title, although it will no doubt go to Kansas State.
Playing at home after being severely tested on the road, Bobby Stoops should have the Sooners hopping.
Pick Oklahoma to win at home.
Game 5: (8) Stanford at (17) UCLA
Stanford (9-2, 7-1) has got to be riding high after knocking off Oregon last Saturday, ruining the Duck’s chances of playing in the National Championship Game in January. This while UCLA (9-2) knocked the stuffing out of USC, sending Trojan QB Matt Barkley to the sidelines.
The Cardinal have won their last five football games after losing in overtime to Notre Dame on October 13.
UCLA has already sewn up the PAC-12 South while Stanford must win this game and hope that Oregon State can defeat Oregon to win the PAC-12 North title. This would allow the Cardinal the opportunity to play in the PAC-12 Championship game against UCLA, again.
While the Bruins have made great strides in 2012, you just gotta love that crushing Cardinal defense—which should stop the Bruins cold.
Pick Stanford to win on the road.
Game 6: (19) Michigan at Ohio State
This year, even though Ohio State (10-0, 7-0) remains undefeated, the Buckeyes cannot participate in post season play because of past sins by their forefathers. It is too bad for college football and for the Big Ten.
Nonetheless, the Buckeyes are in the moment and play to win, obviously. To date, Ohio State has played some less than stellar games during the season. But the Buckeyes always find a way to come away with a victory.
Michigan (8-3, 6-1) has made great strides this year and are now ranked in top 20 in the BCS. The Wolverines need to win this game to stay tied with Nebraska for the Legends Division title. They must also hope that Iowa can knock off Nebraska on Friday. Delusions abound early in the week for Michigan hopefuls because no doubt the Cornhuskers will down Iowa just as the Buckeyes will take care of Michigan at the Horseshoe in Columbus.
Pick Ohio State to win at home.
Game 7: Michigan State at Minnesota
At first glance, this seems like an easy game to predict. But, it is not. Most will pick Michigan State (5-6, 2-5) to win this contest based on past history. The Spartans, however, have lost their glow during the past two seasons. They are not the team they once were.
Minnesota (6-5, 2-5) has a better overall record and they will be playing at home. The Gophers really have nothing to lose because they are already bowl eligible; but, a win against Michigan State would make them look so much more attractive.
Michigan State never loses by much. Their biggest loss so far this season came against Notre Dame when the Spartans lost by 17 points. Otherwise, it has been one point, or two, three or four points. The Spartans are in the game until the final gun. But the Spartans cannot seem to collect those close ones, giving up in the end.
The Gophers, who won their first four games, have only won twice in their last seven contests—defeating Purdue and Illinois. Minnesota got out of the gates fast but has fared only mediocre since the end of September.
Zultan sees the Spartans finally winning a close one.
Pick Michigan State to win on the road.
Game 8: Indiana at Purdue
Sitting near the bottom of the Leaders Division are Purdue (5-6, 2-5) and Indiana (4-7, 2-5) of the Big Ten. They will both play their final game of the season on Saturday—probably—unless Purdue can win and become bowl eligible by winning their sixth game of 2012.
The two rivals will be playing for the Old Oaken Bucket and perhaps to insure that Coach Danny Hope continues as the Boilermakers coach in 2013. Additionally, the two teams will be playing in West Lafayette on Saturday.
Zultan believes in Hope.
Pick Purdue to win at home.
Game 9 Wisconsin at Penn State
Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3) will take the Leaders Division title and run because the winner, Ohio State is ineligible as is the runner up, Penn State (7-4, 5-2). So even finishing third, Wisconsin will play in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
Penn State, however, has not been playing for titles all season. The Nittany Lions are playing for a chance to restore some dignity to this once premiere program. The Lions have gone a long way to accomplish that in 2012.
Penn State is far better than expected and Wisconsin is far worse than touted in preseason polls. At this point, they are about equal on the gridiron. When in doubt, Zultan picks the home team.
Pick Penn State to win at home.
Game 10: (12) South Carolina at (11) Clemson
SEC member South Carolina (9-2, 6-2) has a perfect home record. This would be a deciding factor if the contest were being held in Columbia. But, the game is being played in Clemson where the Clemson Tigers (10-1, 7-1) out of the ACC are ready to pounce.
During the past three years, South Carolina has won this annual rivalry game regardless of where it was held. Clemson fields an outstanding offense but a less than effective defense.
This game is BIG. If Clemson can pull it off, they would be in line to score an at-large bid from the BCS. They would break South Carolina’s stranglehold on the series. But, in order to do this, the Tigers must have no turnovers and must not give up any big scoring plays. A win would salvage the ACC’s season.
South Carolina stands alone in third place in the SEC East standings behind Georgia and Florida. They do not wish to fall any lower.
Zultan senses some ACC pride.
Pick Clemson to win at home.