It's on again, this time over at EDSBS.
1. What's THE critical game of the season on the national scene?
Chalk: Ohio State-Texas. If Ohio State wins, there will be a Big Ten team in the national championship game assuming that Michigan, Purdue, and Iowa follow through on their nonconference schedules--a significant assumption given that therein lie two games against Notre Dame and one against a pretty good Iowa State team, but not an outlandish one. The polls are ready to hype up the Big Ten, and if those for teams make it through the nonconference schedule without a loss, all four will be in the top ten or close to it. It would take a lot of round-robin losing for all four teams to fall out of the national championship picture.
And because I feel so bad for A) talking constantly about Ohio State in this answer and B) going chalk-city in answers one and two, a bonus pick: Iowa-Purdue. Every Midwesterner outside of West Lafayette will be pulling for the Hawkeyes, as an OSU-Michigan-free Boilermakers team capable of beating Iowa will be hopping, skipping, and jumping its way to the BCS and very possibly the Rose Bowl. Howls of protestation will erupt (again), but what are you going to do?
2.What's the most critical matchup for your team?
OHIO STATE AAAAAH! AAAAH!
Look, I don't want to answer Ohio State. It's boring and predictable. But I have absolutely no choice. Cheatypants Sweatervest is now 3-1 against Michigan. Up until last year the OSU losses were unfortunate but not worrying: the first was John Navarre and the Worst Game By A UM Quarterback Since That Time Demetrius Brown Threw Seven Interceptions. The second was a tight game in Columbus against the eventual national champions. You can look at both of those and sort of shrug and say "yeah, okay, that's mostly beyond your control." Not so last year's debacle, during which Michigan turned Troy Smith from a black version of Steve Bellisari into a black version of Michael Vick. That Ohio State team was horrific through the meat of the season but soundly beat a Michigan team that should have gutted the Buckeyes.
Houston, problem. John Cooper specialized in inexplicable losses like that and ushered in the 2-10-1 pax Michigana. If Cheatypants Sweatervest runs his record to 4-1 this year in Ann Arbor against what promises to be a Wolverine offense discussed in wine and song many moons from now, the shoe will be firmly ensconsed on the other foot. Michigan fans will start buying torches, assembling pitchforks, and getting boiled-by-oil riders on their life insurance policies. I don't want to see the other side of the John Cooper coin.
3. What's your wingnut upset prediction of year?
Georgia over Boise State. I keed, I keed.
Penn State over Ohio State: The college football equivalent of that horrific Indiana-Detroit Eastern Conference Finals last year, this series has degenerated into an uglyfest unparalleled nationwide. Every year someone wins without deserving it in any way whatsoever, usually off a freakish play by a tall fast Buckeye. This year Penn State will have a fighting chance because they have some guys--Derrick Williams, Dan Connor, Alan Zemitas, Justin King--who can make the big play that leads to the game's only touchdown.
Penn State will have a bear of a defense this year and the only issue they appear to have is a team that can successfully apply a power running attack. Ohio State will be singularly incapable of doing this. No one is going to turn off Ted Ginn but the Penn State secondary is going to be four seniors with proven ability--he won't go Oklahoma State on the Nittany Lions. Ohio State will struggle to score mightily.
How will Penn State score? Hell if I know. But it'll only take one huge play.