Thanksgiving is the high point of autumn. That most distinctly American of holidays comes as the last leaves release their grip and succumb to the inevitable end of the growing season. This weekend also brings the end of the regular season of college football. It seems hard to believe that this lovely sport could pass us by with such speed, but the calendar tells no lies. College football is cruel that way. The average fan gets a dozen chances to watch his beloved team take the field and perhaps win the day. That’s it. Basketball? What do they play, thirty or forty thousand games? Seventy times a week? How about Hockey? I’m fairly certain the NHL season runs from the Fourth of July to the….third of July. Yep, sounds right. Baseball? How does one even care about an individual baseball game? Oh, huzzah, our team has triumphed! Only 165 million eye-ball searing snoozefests to go until the All-Star break!

College football is special because we love it so much, and yet see it so little. Gridiron scrums are a fleeting joy that we can bask in for what seems like a moment. As the final week of the glorious season begins, your humble writer shoulders a sense of sadness. Soon, the sport will vanish like Taylor Swift’s boyfriends, or Ben Carson’s electability, or that Ty Pennington guy from the home makeover show. Suburban twenty-somethings will spurn pumpkin in favor of cinnamon, ginger, and other something-spiced somethings. (Oh, the ignominy the venerable coffee bean endures in this country…) Black Friday reminds us that ’tis the season for faux outrage and contrived crimes against nativity scenes, which means ’tis no longer the season of our beloved game. The time for tailgates is over. Shout your final Ski-U-Mahs and bellow your last rocket cheer, because the off-season looms cold and dark.

wooderson---Slater-dazed-and-confused-301811_400_300The hardest part of yet another season’s passing is not the lack of football. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. Season’s end is an odd, poignant reminder of the inexorable march of time. Christopher Nolan’s epic tale of Wooderson in Space, known colloquially as Interstellar, taught us that time us malleable. What we call time can be bent, stretched, and doubled back upon itself…but only if you have a black hole or a metric shit-ton of speed.

For us earthbound mortals—imprisoned as we are by our planet’s constant velocity and infernal gravitation—time is very much a constant. Or so we like to think, anyhow. Despite what physics tells me, I suspect there may indeed be some interstellar forces at work. Each football season seems to pass more quickly. What once felt like a miles-long banquet table of turf and tackles now seems like a dessert cart whisked beneath my nose. Much-anticipated Saturdays flash past, and before I know what happened I’m back at my standing desk like a buffoon who falls for gimmicks like standing desks. It’s all too short.

The long and short of this is that football, more than birthdays or holidays, reminds me that I’m another year older. In turn, I once again ask myself the questions each man and woman confronts as we hurtle toward middle age: What will be when I grow up? Where am I headed? What have I learned? Are elastic pants acceptable for the workplace? How do I reduce the number of people in my life who quote Ayn Rand to zero?

It is with these existential questions in mind that I bring you the final regular season picks in this, the year of our Lord, 2015…

The Game: OSU at Michigan (-1.5) Overseas travel has never felt so good, as I don’t have to watch that clownshoe Tim Beck turn the OSU offense into a performance art piece on the meaning of futility. I swear, if you handed that asshole Beck all the pieces to a Rolex and a step-by-step assembly guide, he’d still build a goddam sundial. Michigan is playing their best football of the season, as Jake Rudock has suddenly figured out that his passes are supposed to go the guys dressed like him. For whatever reason, the Buckeye staff has decided that Braxton Miller is the university’s fine china: worth a lot, never utilized. At this point I could go either way on this game in terms of emotion. I think UM probably wins. They’re peaking as OSU has cratered. If nothing else, a loss might be the nail in Beck’s figurative coffin. I hope his literal final vessel is a fitting homage to the man, which would mean a $10,000 urn that sits empty while his ashes are stored in a Chock Full o’ Nuts can with a cracked lid. I’ll take UM and the points on this one, because OSU is a plate of ketchup, peanut butter, and Altoids: a bunch of great things that don’t work together.

The Iron Bowl: Alabama (-14.5) at Auburn. Rarely is the Iron Bowl a laugher, but this has all the makings of Auburn being dragged past Toomer’s Corners by their eye sockets. Bama’s much-ballyhoo’d defensive front has largely lived up to their best-in-class billing. Auburn, on the other hand, is probably starting to realize that hiring a guy who was coaching high school not long ago wasn’t the brightest move. The fact that his voice sounds like a muppet impersonating Will Ferell impersonating Dubya is the icing on the shit cake that a 6-5 season has baked for the War Eagle faithful. Enjoy your treat, ‘Barn fans. I’m sure Malzahn’s run to the championship game wasn’t a complete fluke. I’m sure back-to-back 5-loss seasons and overtime against Jacksonville State isn’t the norm. Bama and the points.

The Jorts Trophy: FSU (-2.5) at UF. Dust off your best pair of jean shorts, Gaiduh fans. It’s time to cheer for your slimy afterbirth of an offense. Not so tough without your doped-up QB are you? Yeah, sure, it was a supplement. And all that porn in my browser history was a virus, I swear. There’s no way Florida suddenly finds enough offense to upset Dalvin Cook and the Flarda Stay Cinnamon Rows. Flurrduh is 141st in points per game, even in the garage SEC East. I’ll take FSU and the points on this one. Probably by four.

LSU (-5.5) at TAMU It’s been real, Mad Hatter. Enjoy an easy win and your subsequent horribly mishandled firing. In case you needed proof that LSU is seven kinds of dumb, they’re going to pay $15 million to fire a coach who took them to the national championship game twice and compete against at least seven other FBS programs for a new coach. Stupid is as stupid does. LSU and the points. 

Georgia at GT (-4.0) Two things will survive the apocalypse: cockroaches and Mark Richt’s job. Think about the insanity of a world in which Les Miles is being fired and Mark Richt isn’t. Add to that, I think the Dawgs get this one. UGA in the upset. 

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About The Author

Rob Paulsen. Old Grad staying young, staying hip to the fresh jive. Hating Navy around the clock. O-H. I-O.