In Mississippi’s World Series of college football prognosticating, Rick Cleveland took a one-game lead over the older, more experienced Orley Hood this past week. Young Rick posted a 10-4 showing, compared to wily veteran Hood’s 9-5. That gives the much-wetter-behind-the-ears Cleveland an 82-34 season record, slightly better than the grizzled Hood’s 81-35.
“Everything I know about this prognosticating business I owe to Orley,” Cleveland said. “He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me to be a game ahead of such a knowledgeable, veteran football expert headed into the last three weeks of the season.”
Ole Miss at LSU: Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. That’s the Rebels’ mantra after Vandy. LSU is a different animal. Could’ve? Should’ve? Won’t. LSU, 34-24.
Arkansas at Mississippi State: Time for Mississippi State to get well and add to Razorbacks’ misery, but it won’t be easy. 27-20, MSU.
UTEP at USM: Go ahead, laugh. I deserve it. USM 27, UTEP 26.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State can score. So can Tech. Cowboys score more, 42-35.
Northwestern at Michigan State: Northwestern should have beaten Michigan and will beat Michigan State. Well, maybe. Wildcats, 26-24.
Southern California at UCLA: Whenever it’s a close call, I am morally and ethically bound to pick against Lane Kiffin. UCLA, 28-24.
Central Florida at Tulsa: I am continually amazed at how Tulsa, such a small school, plays such good football. Tulsa, 31-24.
Duke at Georgia Tech: Did I mention last week how much I enjoy watching Tech’s offense operate? I do. Tech 38, Duke 31.
Wake Forest at Notre Dame: Notre Dame, 35-17. Sorry, Bama.
South Florida at Miami: Guess I’ll go with the home team, although Miami surely is inconsistent. Canes, 30-24.
Tennessee at Vandy: Vandy is one of the best-coached teams in the country. Tennessee is not. Vandy 28-20.
Stanford at Oregon: If this was at Stanford, I’d be tempted, but it’s not and I’m picking the Ducks, 34-27.
Jackson State at Alcorn: Jay Hopson has done a great job at Alcorn but he’s out-manned in this one. JSU, 34-24.
Syracuse at Missouri: Mizzou got me a game lead on Orley last week. I can’t abandon the Tigers now. Mizzou 27, Syracuse 24.
Saints at Raiders: Was that some semblance of defense we saw last week? It was definitely a revived running game. Saints, 34, Raiders 31.
Ole Miss at LSU: A shame about the Rebels last week. Make a play or two on either side of the ball in the last five minutes and they’d be bowl eligible, no small thing considering the last two seasons. Alas, the Rebs will have to wait till Egg Bowl week for a realistic chance to make dreams come true. LSU is just too … LSU. Tigers 34, Rebels 21.
Arkansas at Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had their chances at LSU. The pressure’s on to snap a three-game losing streak. Despite recent disappointments, there is a lot to play for, most especially the chance at a 10-win season and a winning record in the SEC by beating the Hogs, winning the Egg Bowl and knocking off a bowl opponent. State 38, Arkansas 28.
UTEP at USM: The alphabet bowl? The toilet bowl? UTEP’s won twice. USM’s won … OK, none. Remember years ago when Southern’s basketball team had a season-long oh-fer? Maybe it’s the football team’s turn. UTEP 20, USM 17.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State: Another Big 12 game that, on paper, could end up with a basketball score. So … Cowboys make one more three-pointer. OSU 62, Tech 59.
Northwestern at Michigan State: A heartbreaker for the Wildcats against Michigan last week. Another one, alas, on Saturday. Sparty 28, N’western 24.
Southern California at UCLA: USC’s sagging. UCLA is surging. This is purely an anti-Lane Kiffin pick. Hey, think he’s got guts enough to fire his daddy? UCLA 35, USC 31.
Central Florida at Tulsa: Beats me. When in doubt go with the home team. Tulsa 30, UCF 20.
Duke at Georgia Tech: Yikes. After 68 points last week, how much will the Jackets run up this week? A bunch. Hate it for Coach Cut. GT 56, Duke 17.
Wake Forest at Notre Dame: Yikes, Vol. 2. Irish 45, Wake 10.
South Florida at Miami: Ditto home team. Canes win, 27-20.
Tennessee at Vandy: How sweet would it be for the Commodores … a seventh victory and Derek Dooley, widely considered to be a jerk, gets Croomed. Vandy 28, UT 20.
Stanford at Oregon: The Ducks, already beaten up, could get a lot more bruised on Saturday. Here’s where Alabama takes Step 1 back to the national championship game. Stanford 38, Oregon 35.
Jackson State at Alcorn: All Tigers down on the Reservation. JSU 33, ASU 22.
Syracuse at Missouri: Syracuse is doing OK. But Mizzou’s in the SEC, eh? Tigers 31, Orangemen 24.
Saints at Raiders: The drive for the playoffs — don’t laugh! — continues in Oakland. New Orleans 45, the forces of evil 28.