When a clever group of Auburn fans used the White House website “We The People” to ask President Barack Obama to send a powerful drone to blow up the Tiger athletic department and send an orange-and-blue stimulus to rebuild Auburn’s sagging football fortunes, we knew it would just be a matter of time before other college crazies got in line.
Sure enough, Ohio State faithful have just requested a “presidential pardon” for the unbeaten Buckeye football team after NCAA sanctions forbid Ohio State from post-season play. Here’s what the submission said:
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“WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
“Pardon The Ohio State Buckeyes from unjust NCAA sanctions preventing their rightful access to a BCS bowl game.
“The Ohio State University football team is one win away from an undefeated season. However, due to imposed sanctions, they are not allowed to participate in their conference’s championship game or the following bowl season.
“While a punishment for past indiscretions is to be expected, a bowl season ban is too harsh for a few young men trading memorabilia for tattoos and some change. The offending players and coach who covered it up are no longer part of the program.
“Please exercise your executive power to pardon the NCAA’s excessive sanctions placed on The Ohio State Buckeyes to enable a rightful, satisfying culmination to the college football season for the American people.”
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The petition was soon taken down from the site – it didn’t meet necessary criteria – but there is still a petition from every state to succeed from the Union on “We The People” and if Ohio is successful in becoming a country, they could grant themselves a pardon. Of course, there are time constraints and the better advice might be to ride out the storm.
That said, here are my Top Ten Games on this, the last weekend of the regular season:
FRIDAY’S TOP GAMES
No. 8 LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) at ARKANSAS (4-7, 2-5 SEC), 2:30 p.m. (CBS Sports) – When Miss. State clobbered Arkansas last week (45-14), all the air went out of what was expected to be among the best match-ups on the season back in August. LSU has held up its side of the bargain but John Smith will coach his last game as a two-TD underdog. LSU should pound UA pretty hard and, when you look at the Tigers’ 37-17 win over the same Miss State that clobbered the Razorbacks one week later, this is hardly rocket science on “Senior Day.” MY PICK? LSU, 41-17.
ARIZONA STATE (6-5) at ARIZONA (7-4), 10:00 P.M. (ESPN) – Using UCLA as a yardstick, the Bruins beat UA by 56 and ASU by 2. Southern Cal? The Trojans beat UA by 3 but lost to ASU by 21. So why oh why is Arizona a 3-point pick over State? Both teams are fun to watch and both are headed for bowls but the thinking around this campfire is that State is the one if you can stay up late. MY PICK? Arizona State, 27-24.
SATURDAY’S TOP GAMES
No. 20 MICHIGAN (8-3) at No. 4 OHIO STATE (11-0), 12 Noon (ABC) – Ever since he arrived at OSU Urban Meyer has not allowed a soul to utter “the M word,” instead calling this week’s arch rival “the school up north.” With the NCAA forbidding the Buckeyes to go to a bowl, this is the end of the line in an unbeaten season. OSU isn’t flashy – just a 4-point favorite – but if you tried to give a saliva test in Columbus all you would get is feathers! Last week’s OT win at Wisconsin (21-14) tells us all we need to know. MY PICK? Ohio State, 27-14.
GEORGIA TECH (6-5) at No. 3 GEORGIA (10-1, 7-1 SEC), 12 Noon (ESPN) – Don’t think the Bulldogs haven’t noticed what has happened to Alabama, Kansas State and Oregon in the last two weeks. While the lone loss to South Carolina was this year’s wake-up call, Tech could still rattle UGa after scoring 110 points in the last two games. Frankly, UGa – favored by 14 -- should smear the in-state foe in a rivalry gone stale with Aaron Murray now the nation’s most effective QB, the two “Gurshall” RBs hot and the defense jelling into the best unit in years. MY PICK? Georgia, 35-14.
AUBURN (3-8, 0-7 SEC) at ALABAMA (10-1, 6-1 SEC), 3:30 p.m. (CBS) – The “Iron Bowl” is the best rivalry in The Deep South but this year Auburn is so plagued with losses, NCAA rumors and an eminent coaching change this could be a rout. UA has played poorly against LSU and A&M in November but you can expect the Tide to have a solid chance in covering the 32-point spread. (Yes, the Tide will be a double-digit favorite against Georgia and – if Alabama played Notre Dame tomorrow for the national title – Alabama would be a 10-point pick, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.) MY PICK? Alabama, 42-7.
WISCONSIN (7-4) at PENN STATE (7-4), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2) – This one is heavy – PSU has a chance to win eight games the same year as “The Scandal” while Wisconsin needs to atone for the agonizing 21-14 overtime loss to unbeaten Ohio State. The Badgers have struggled in November, losing twice at home, while the Nittany Lions have played well down the stretch, the 32-23 loss to Nebraska the lone blemish this month. PSU is favored by 3 and with the season ending at home, the air will be so thick in State College you got to go with first-year coach Bill O’Brien. MY PICK? Penn State, 27-21.
TEXAS TECH (7-4) at BAYLOR (5-5), 3:30 p.m. (Fox) – Baylor became everybody’s Cinderella after the stunning 52-24 victory over then top-ranked Kansas State but here’s saying the slipper falls in Arlington. Tommy Tuberville, whose name is being bandied about as jobs open, has lost three of the last four so the Bears figured to be a 3-point favorite. TTU is playing for position while Baylor is still trying to get bowl eligible. MY PICK? Texas Tech, 34-28.
No. 6 FLORIDA (10-1, 7-1 SEC) at No. 10 FLORIDA STATE (10-1), 3:30 p.m. (ABC) – The Seminoles have been impressive in four of the five victories since the one-point shocker to N.C. State while the Gators have really struggled. Sure, with Jeff Driskel back at QB you can bet UF will be better than they showed in the 23-0 win over Jax State last week but when the Seminoles are favored by 8 at home, there is clear concern. MY PICK? Florida State, 27-17.
No. 5 OREGON (10-1) at No. 16 OREGON STATE (8-2), 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) – The 17-14 dagger that Stanford jabbed into the high-flying Ducks last week was a shocker but remember the same Stanford just beat the Beavers by 4. With OSU playing at home, the Ducks are still favored by 10 due to the blinding speed and quickness. Add the fact that both teams are shaky on defense so speed will rule the day. MY PICK? Oregon, 42-24.
No. 11 STANFORD (9-2) at No. 15 UCLA (9-2), 6:30 p.m. (Fox) – How about The Cardinal? Everybody predicted Andrew Luck’s departure would kill the program then Stanford figured out a way to win 9-of-11 including both Oregons! UCLA is as good a story – the 38-28 win over Southern Cal rolling across L.A. like an earthquake. SU is picked by 2 but this one’s in the Coliseum so who’s not to think the Bruins can’t deliver the package? MY PICK? UCLA, 34-24.
No. 13 SOUTH CAROLINA (9-2, 6-2 SEC) at No. 12 CLEMSON (10-1), 7:00 p.m. (ESPN) – Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks got a dose of humility when USC struggled before bettering Wofford (24-7) last week while Clemson, despite QB Tahj Boyd’s combined eight TDs, allowed N.C. State to score often in that 62-48 track meet. With this one in “Death Valley,” the Tigers are a 3-point favorite but that means nothing in a rivalry with Spurrier on the other sideline. And like Spurrier has told us all year long, QB Connor Shaw’s shoulder is just “slightly broken.” MY PICK? Clemson, 27-23.
No. 1 NOTRE DAME (11-0) at SOUTHERN CAL (7-4), 8:00 p.m. (ABC) – When Joe Namath “guaranteed” the Jets would beat the Colts in an ancient Super Bowl, that carried more weight that when USC reserve QB Matt Wittek made the same prediction Tuesday against the No. 1 team in the country. ND, picked to win by 6, has had a great year, the 30-13 win at Oklahoma the bright spot, but this game puts the Irish in the national championship game so don’t think they’ll louse it up. Also a ND win would give Lane Kiffin 5 losses in a year when USC was to win it all. MY PICK? Notre Dame, 31-20.
IN OTHER SEC GAMES
KENTUCKY (2-9, 0-7 SEC) at TENNESSEE (4-7, 0-7 SEC), 12:21 p.m. (SEC Network) – A dreadful finale will kick off early in Knoxville but at least one team will earn the first conference victory of the season. Derek Dooley will not coach in UT’s final game while UK’s Joker Phillips, who served Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless yesterday, will walk into Neyland Stadium with a Wildcat team that is a 13 ½ point underdog. If Vol QB Tyler Bray is sharp, the Vol offense should overwhelm UK as fans of both schools will spend more time speculating the future than watching the game. MY PICK? Tennessee, 36-14.
VANDERBILT (7-4, 5-3 SEC) at WAKE FOREST (5-6), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU) – The Commodores, playing great football in the second half against Tennessee last week, need this win badly to enrich their bowl potential and an 8-4 record in Nashville is tremendous. Watch for VU coach James Franklin to get courted for bigger jobs but it is going to be tough for him to consider leaving. Vandy’s defense is ranked fifth in the SEC right now so there is no wonder why the ‘Dores are a solid 12-point favorite. MY PICK? Vanderbilt, 37-17.
MISSOURI (5-6, 2-5 SEC) at No. 9 TEXAS A&M (9-2, 5-2 SEC), 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2) – The Aggies, winning all four games since losing to LSU, 24-19, on Oct. 20, may be the hottest team in the SEC right now with Heisman favorite Johnny Manziel at QB. A&M is a swarthy 22-point pick and with Mizzou’s top players hobbled, it looks like the Tigers will not qualify for a post-season bowl. The fact this one’s in College Station heightens the fervor and – face it -- 10 wins in Kevin Sumlin’s first year would be incredible. MY PICK? Texas A&M, 38-14.
No. 25 MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-3, 4-3 SEC) at OLE MISS (5-6, 2-5 SEC), 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU) – This is the scariest call of “Rivalry Saturday.” State snapped a three-game losing skein with the impressive 45-14 breakout against Arkansas but Ole Miss fought hard against LSU before losing, 41-35. There is a big difference between LSU and Arkansas! OM first-year coach Hugh Freeze has the Rebs jacked about earning a bowl berth at home so the Rebs are a 2-point favorite against MSU’s 8-game winner. This year’s battle for the Golden Egg should be a dilly. MY PICK? Ole Miss, 30-21.