Put together a better record picking football winners than I do, and I can live with that.

Heckling me on your way out the door, though? That’s where I draw the line. Especially when the root of your criticism is my having more directional names in the Week 1 poll than they do in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Blame the schools for scheduling Central Confused State in their attempt to avoid heavy lifting before the conference schedule. Sure, I could load up this column with Buffalo-Temple and Army-Akron every week and beat all y’all like a speed metal band’s drum in the process, but I’ve elected to play it straight and try to pick games that more than six mamas and four alumni give a crap about.

Well, at any rate, some our Top 25 friends have cooperated this week by serenading us with September crossroads games of New Year’s Day quality. Imagine that.

Virginia Tech at LSU – My self-imposed challenge: To dredge up a preview angle that incorporates current events but doesn’t involve reliving a mass casualty, sadly. Here goes. What’s a Hokie? Nobody knows, but the mascot is a cross between a turkey and a rooster, the latter being another animal involved in the illegal activity VT alumnus Michael Vick confessed with dogs. In a related story, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals pressured LSU not to replace its live, caged Bengal tiger mascot in front of the stadium when the old one died at a ripe, old age of natural causes. Far as I know, the school politely asked PETA to cram it. Which is more than enough reason to wave purple pompoms all the way to the BCS Championship Game, in my book. LSU, 24-10.

TCU at Texas – Last time the Horned Frogs beat the Longhorns, Texas Christian actually was a Christian school and Texas had just achieved statehood. Sammy Baugh would be proud of the effort Saturday, but it won’t be enough. Texas, 35-31.

Miami at Oklahoma – Notice how both of these schools eventually fall on embarrassingly hard times as cosmic payback for whatever it took to make them a national champion. The Hurricanes are sort of in that netherworld/limbo place right now. Oklahoma, 31-16.

Oregon at Michigan – The Wolverines are the gift game I’m glad I didn’t open last week. Ducks are a certain bowl team and fringe Top 25 outfit, but look up “bad spot” in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of maize-and-blue-clad fans hanging Lloyd Carr in effigy at the Big House. Win, or else. Michigan, 37-35.

Boise State at Washington – Heart says it’s the closest thing to a challenge the Broncos will experience until January. Head says the fairy tale’s over. Upset Special … Washington, 45-42.

South Carolina at Georgia – He wants the Confederate flag down. He wants more favorable SAT requirements for his recruits. Think Steve Spurrier is ready to try the NFL one more time? Georgia, 19-6.

Notre Dame at Penn State – Jimmy Clausen, Jimmy Chitwood, Jimmy Carter. It really doesn’t matter who plays QB for the Fighting Irish. Penn State, 20-7.

BYU at UCLA – Funny, BYU didn’t play many regional road games like this the year they went 12-0 in the old WAC and stole a national championship. UCLA, 28-17.

North Carolina State at Boston College – State has a QB controversy. BC has the ACC’s best quarterback in Matt Ryan. Boston College, 31-13.

Nebraska at Wake Forest – ‘Huskers will play three dozen games in January before Demon Deacons experience another one. Nebraska, 27-19.

Alabama at Vanderbilt – Nick Saban’s nightmare begins. “Coach, how could you need a last-second field goal to beat Vandy?” Alabama, 26-24.

Navy at Rutgers – No new lawsuits filed against Don Imus this week. Good, because is the Rutgers story we should be talking about from now until Christmas. Rutgers, 30-10.

West Virginia at Marshall – Thundering Herd were the subject of a major motion picture. Mountaineers will trade that for a national title. West Virginia, 38-9.

South Florida at Auburn – If the Tigers had the fortitude to play this one on the road, it would absolutely reek of upset. Aw, what the beck … Upset Special #2 … USF, 21-16.

Last week’s record: 12-2 (.857). Overall record: 12-2 (.857). Upset specials: 1-1 (.500).

WHO BEAT KALLE?

Week 1

Jim Lamontagne

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