So you thought I'd gone away, huh? No chance. The Benster is back. And you already know that I'm going to bring the HYYYYYYPPPPPE!
You have nearly a year's worth of hype stored up now. Will we need a dropcloth?
No, and I'll deal with your smart-aleck comments later, old dude. We have some brilliant analysis to bring to the vast blog audience, so watch me work!
Minnesota Golden Gophers (-15) vs. New Mexico State Aggies. So the Gophers are traveling to scenic Las Cruces, New Mexico, which is very close to both (a) Area 51 and (b) the place where they tested the atomic bomb. If I were Jerry Kill, I'd get a better travel agent, or, I don't know, actually schedule North Carolina. If you remember, this was the week that the Gophers were supposed to play North Carolina, a real team that plays in a real conference. Instead, the Gophers are risking exposure to nuclear fallout or an appearance on "Ancient Aliens." Now if New Mexico State can win this game, I'm not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens. Gophers 17, Aggies 7.
It was nice of the Gopher athletic department to nuke the fridge on this one. I read somewhere that this is the first time a Big Ten school has ever traveled to Las Cruces. There was probably a reason for that. Gophs should win, but this might be an issue. Gophers 31, Aggies 20.
Tennessee Tech Tuxedos (NL) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Actually, I think the nickname for Tennessee Tech is the Golden Eagles, but let's face it, this is a cartoon team. The Badgers shouldn't be playing teams like this, and to their credit, they are upgrading their schedule to include LSU and Alabama in the future. In the meantime, we have to endure the wrath of all the SEC lovers who are busily mocking the Badgers for this game, while they enjoy tilts against such notable powerhouses as Furman and Elon. Never mind all that -- the Badgers are going to be a tough out in the Big Ten this year. And they'll crush these dudes. UW 99, Tuxedos 0.
Uh, maybe. Tennessee Tech is not very good. I think the Badgers are. It might not be 99-0, but it's going to be a butt-kicking. Badgers 63, Tenn Tech 3.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+4) vs. Meeshegan Wolverines. The sad thing about this game is that Notre Dame will no longer be playing Michigan after this one. Instead, they'll be playing traditional rivals like Wake Forest and Duke. If this were basketball, that might be interesting. But this is football and ND's alliance with the ACC will hurt them in the long run. I think that ND should have beaten Alabama last year, but you know what? They failed. And the Benster always remembers these things. The old dude's high school guidance counselor, who begged the Geritol Fan to attend ND, will be crying at the end of this one. Michigan 35, Irish 31.
I shouldn't tell you these old stories, grasshopper. As for this game, who knows? I think Michigan is still a year away from completing the rebuilding, but they are getting close. The Irish are talented but thin at some positions. Close game and I'll pick it the other way, just to create some fake controversy. Notre Dame 27, Michigan 20.
Minnesota Vikings (+5) vs. Detroit Motor City Kitties. I've noticed that the Lions have been crushing their opponents in the preseason, although I believe they've played New Mexico State and Tennessee Tech so far. Now comes a real game against a playoff team. The Vikings are going to be good once again, but here's the question I have -- how much does Adrian Peterson have left in the tank? Everyone assumes that since he nearly set the NFL record last year, that he will be even better this year. Historically, that's not been the case. Runners with huge years usually come back to earth the following year. And if that happens, it means that Christian Ponder is going to have to pick up the slack. Do you think he can do it? Of course not. It's going to be interesting to listen to the KFAN Fan Line (a/k/a Whine Line) after this one. Vikings 24, Detroit 9.
Wait, so you bashed the Vikings, but then picked them to win? Hmmm. Tricky. I think the Lions have something to prove in this one. It's tough to see what a team is really like when they don't play their top player all preseason, which is what the Vikings chose to do with Peterson. Do they have it figured out? Who knows? Lions 27, Vikings 24.
Cincinnati Bengals (+3) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Speaking of mysterious teams, let's consider those Bears. New coach, lots of new players on defense and the same old horrible quarterback. Jay Cutler is in a contract year, so he'll be looking to put up the big numbers. The problem is, da Bears are starting over yet again with their offensive line and it's tough to know whether Cutler can complete dramatic passes to Brandon Marshall if he's got Cincinnati defensive lineman in his face. The Bengals are a good team and might be a contender in the AFC this year, so this one is a tough assignment for Gino's boys. Bengals 19, da Bearz 0.
Oh, I think the Bears will score. But will they score enough? I think this is going to be an interesting year in Chicago. Bears 31, Bengals 27.
Glorious Green Bay Packers (+4 1/2) vs. San Francisco 49ers. I have been waiting for this one ever since the Packers washed off the tread marks from the runaway bus that was Colin Krap-er-nick. Yes, I spelled that correctly. It was intentional. There, I said it. Deal with it. And you know what? Things are going to be different this time around. The Niners offense is very good, especially when they run circus offense. The Packers are not going to be fooled by those tricks this time around. Jim Harbaugh made one mistake during the offseason, and he should know better. When you trade away your best quarterback, so you can pretend that it's Tulane with Shaun King quarterbacking, that's an issue. You might be asking me, why on earth did I bring up Tulane? Well, if you remember, once upon a time Tulane had a very potent offense led by Shaun King. That offense worked very well for one season, but invariably the defense will always find a way to stop high-powered offenses. In fact, the Ravens did it in the Super Bowl. The Ravens also jumped out to a quick lead and forced the 49ers to play catch-up. That's the formula and the Packers will use it. Packers 73, 49ers 67.
Okay, that makes no sense at all. If the Packers tighten up the defense but give up 67 points, that's a little, well, counterintuitive.
My picks aren't always supposed to make sense. Sometimes they're just supposed to be funny. Deal with it, you curmudgeon!
Oh, I see. Well then, I'll carry on. The Packers weren't ready for the read option last year but the larger problem appeared to be that they weren't athletic enough to keep up. Have they closed that gap? That's the question. I'm not sure they have yet. It will be closer this time, but I don't think our pals are ready for this moment. 49ers 34, Packers 31.
Oh, old dude of little faith! C'mon man, swig some of that Metamucil or something and get an attitude adjustment. Meanwhile, let's give a shout-out to the mighty Irondale Knights, who last night dispatched Spring Lake Park by a final score of 20-7. My bud Jared Brenny scored a touchdown and threw for another one. Good job, bro! Ben out!