For all the talk about how we won't have any undefeated teams heading into the BCS, we enter November with plenty of them remaining...eight.
Obviously, we lose one tonight in Lubbock, but we may have a battle of unbeatens for the national championship yet (sorry LSU, no two-time losers this year. Being undefeated won't guarantee a spot in the title game (sorry, four non-BCS unbeatens), but there's something about the swagger of an undefeated team at bowl time. We didn't get to enjoy a collision of them last year.
Let's take a look at each:
TEXAS, TEXAS TECH: I lump them together because they meet tonight in the game that will decide the loaded Big 12 South's representative in the conference title game. Texas' Colt McCoy is getting the Heisman love right now, but he doesn't get my vote until we see what Tech's Graham Harrell can do on the big stage.
If Texas wins and finishes its four-week murderers' row (Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Tech), I like their chances of running the table better. They get Baylor and Texas A&M at home (the thought of the '06 upset in Austin will leave overconfidence stillborn), and Kansas doesn't have the D to stop them.
Tech has more heavy lifting after tonight: home to OSU next week and a Nov. 22 date in Norman.
Prognosis for perfection: Texas, very good. Texas Tech, poor.
ALABAMA: The Tide doesn't always look good, but gets the job done. Two troublesome games remain: next week at LSU (they won't hang 52 on the Tigers) and the season finale in Tuscaloosa with Auburn (not one of Auburn's vintage teams, but funny things happen at the Iron Bowl).
PENN STATE: The Nittanies cleared their biggest remaining hurdle at Ohio State last week. One last road test at Iowa next week, but they should take care of the last two in Happy Valley (though Michigan State in the finale might be a handful). Nothing tells me Joe Paterno will be denied a last huzzah.
Prognosis: Very good.
UTAH: The Utes won't be within hailing distance of the title game, but are definitely in line for a BCS invite. Their two toughest Mountain West rivals (BYU and TCU) lie ahead, but they'll face both at home.
BOISE STATE: Two non-BCS conference teams getting at-large bids? The Broncos will test theory to the max. It'll come down to the season finale against Fresno State on the big blue rug.
Prognosis: Very good.
TULSA: No BCS, I fear, but wouldn't you love to see a team that averages 55 points per game taken on a big-time team? The Golden Hurricane gets the acid test this weekend at Arkansas, which may well be a better team than any they're likely to face in a bowl.
BALL STATE: Letterman U. has already eaten its obligatory Big 10 foe (Indiana) and author of the MAC's biggest upset (Toledo). Not a hefty schedule remaining.
On to the picks (12-8 last week, 102-58 for the season). Let's start with college this week:
TEXAS 48, TEXAS TECH 41: I like the Longhorn defense a little better, although the Red Raiders will be out of the cannon. To call this the biggest football game in Texas Tech history would not be an exaggeration.
FLORIDA 24, GEORGIA 20: Gatorade's the mixer of choice at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
OKLAHOMA 51, NEBRASKA 24: Has the fourth-ranked team in the nation ever seemed less relevant?
FLORIDA STATE 20, GEORGIA TECH 13: The Seminoles are operating effectively by stealth.
TULSA 38, ARKANSAS 35: It's your bowl today, 'Canes. Make the most of it.
MINNESOTA 24, NORTHWESTERN 20: You won't find a better under-the-radar game this weekend.
On to the NFL (confidence points rating in parentheses):
PATRIOTS 23, COLTS 20 (9): Psssst! Just between you, me and the wall, Matt Cassel has a higher passer rating than Peyton Manning right now. You can look it up.
BROWNS 20, RAVENS 16 (6): Cleveland showed me something in beating the Jags last week. Maybe we can't count the Browns out.
JAGUARS 27, BENGALS 12 (4): Jags guzzle greedily from the AFC's magic elixir.
RAMS 23, CARDINALS 21 (5): Upset special. I've become quite a Donnie Avery fan. Now, if St. Louis can just cut out the penalties that killed them at New England...
BILLS 21, JETS 20 (10): AFC East November football with something on the line in a location other than Foxboro. Miss it?
BUCCANEERS 27, CHIEFS 10 (15): Too many Chiefs, not enough football players.
TITANS 24, PACKERS 23 (8): Good to see Tennessee get tested. I'm rolling the dice with the upstarts.
VIKINGS 21, TEXANS 16 (3): Because Adrian Peterson's got to win them a game somewhere.
BEARS 31, LIONS 6 (16): The definitive 16-point game in a confidence pool.
BRONCOS 27, DOLPHINS 20 (12): After starting like a house afire, Denver struggles to stoke the embers.
FALCONS 24, RAIDERS 14 (11): Let's see if Atlanta can bounce back form a tough loss on the road.
GIANTS 31, COWBOYS 20 (14): The Jints take advantage of a wounded foe in a big home game.
EAGLES 20, SEAHAWKS 7 (13): While you're in commercial during Giants-Cowboys, please join me for live-blogging fun on this one at SI.com. Fox is sending this game to, oh, about as a high a percentage of the nation as Ralph Nader will get of the presidential vote Tuesday.
REDSKINS 20, STEELERS 17 (7): Pittsburgh's in a tough enough spot without any more long-snap catastrophes.