Column: Predictions for upcoming weekend football games

By Ian Gold

If you picked up the latest issue of the Touchdown Times, you probably flipped through it to see the pretty pictures, then threw it into the nearest trash receptacle because it was missing the prettiest picture of them all, mine!

For some reason or another, I guess I was not invited to the party that is the Touchdown Times. I figure it might be because I dominated Writers’ Picks last year and won by a margin so great that it was obvious I would win again. It could be that “Ian’s Pick Em’s” are so accurate, I was encouraging a wave of gambling – the likes of which this campus had never seen. My other conspiracy theory is that my continuous flirting with publications that actually reward their writers with paychecks have left me shunned.

But don’t worry Champaign-Urbana, I won’t be denied. I won’t let you be cheated from the Pick Em’s. This weekend is such a rewarding bundle of college football games that I have to give advice for the gamblers, and fodder for those who love to Facebook me with praise or rage. Champaign-Urbana, I give you, the Pick Em’s.

The Best Game

#1 Ohio State at #2 Texas

If Ohio State Quarterback Troy Smith played the entire game last year, Texas coach Mack Brown might still be searching for his first National Championship. Luckily for the Buckeyes, he is not only the obvious starter this time, but is looking to build his Heisman charge with a big Saturday in Austin. Unluckily for the Longhorns cornerback Tarell Brown, who should have been running wind-sprints in preparation to keep up with Buckeye star Ted Ginn Jr., was toting around a loaded gun in the back of a car last Saturday. So instead of trying to handcuff another of Ohio State’s Heisman hopefuls, he will be on the sidelines. Texas kicked off their season well, beating the hell out of their second cousin twice removed: North Texas. Vince Young’s replacement, Colt McCoy, not only shares a name with my favorite of the “Three Ninjas,” but did a fine job in leading the team. The difference: Jim Tressel will do a better job of disorienting the young quarterback and has the talent and speed on defense to limit the Longhorns offensively. Ohio State will take the biggest step of the season toward the pursuit of a future National Championship.

#1 Ohio State 28 #2 Texas 19

The Upset Special

#19 Penn State at #4 Notre Dame

You know it’s going out on a limb when it comes to criticizing Notre Dame, because if you’re wrong, the Cossacks come after you and try to burn you at the stake. Notre Dame received a lot of hype coming into the year, and looked undeserving of their preseason ranking in the Georgia Tech game. It may have only been one game, but the Irish struggles looked more realistic than Brady Quinn’s Heisman hopes. Irish problems aside, I believe the Nittany Lions still have a chance for an upset in South Bend. Notre Dame got faster on defense, indeed, but I’m looking at old school Penn State pounding the ball to Tony Hunt and keeping the vaunted Irish offense off the field. What Penn State adds to their chances is a great core of wide receivers and a playmaker in Derrick Williams. ND could get beat for the big play a couple times, as college football sage Joe Paterno has loosened up and allowed his talent to succeed on offense. Last week, the Irish were able to concentrate on stopping one wide receiver, this week there are plenty more to worry about. Penn State’s receivers may be too much for the Irish secondary to contain. Defensively, I think the Lions can make Charlie Weis’ brainchild one dimensional. With the best corps of linebackers in the country, they should be able to stop ND’s rushing attack; and if Quinn doesn’t have a Heisman-type performance, this one will go JoPa’s way.

#19 Penn State 24 Notre Dame 21

Hometown Interest

Illinois at Rutgers

Two undefeated teams square off. One will leave blemished, the other vaulted towards a possible bowl game nobody has heard of. But seriously, this game is huge for both schools. If Illinois could start 2-0 and win on the road against a team who looked strong in week one, it would be a Stonehenge-size stepping stone. Rutgers, on the other hand, plays in a very weak conference, and by knocking off the out-of-conference foes, could – bite my tongue – maybe even earn a ranking. Oh, and of course the Scarlet Knights might remember last year’s comeback loss in Champaign. This one will come down to Illinois stopping the run, something they have yet to prove they can do. The addition of blue-chip freshman Melvin Alaeze could work wonders, but the size up front might still be too much to make up for. All Illinois fans can still picture the Scarlet Knight’s fullback, Brian Leonard, hurdling one Illinois defender and then running by a second for a touchdown. Leonard wasn’t even the star rusher against North Carolina last week. Raymell Rice ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns. There are no moral victories in this one. Illinois needs a win to keep momentum and fan interest and Rutgers needs to prove they are for real.

Illinois 19 Rutgers 21

Ian Gold is a senior in Communications. He is the returning champion of writers’ picks and is furious he was not asked to submit his wisdom this year. He can be reached at [email protected]