Welcome to the annual Tommy Slap-O-Rama where Butch educates Tommy by using the time-tested Pavlov Pooch teaching method – "Here Tommy…whistle, whistle…here boy, come and get the prognosticating win – whiff! – nope, not this time! Maybe next time. boy! Here, have some kibble – oops, whiff! – none of that either! Sorry!". Just a small crack of the window into the annual Butch and Tommy slap-fest. With the beginning of the school year, it is lab experimentation time and the students will observe how, in 2008, Butch will slap down the lab mice, er, subject [Tommy] yet again. This time, having become frightfully bored with previous straightforward slapdowns such as last year's DeLorean Gambit which Butch employed to give Tommy a small ray of hope [it worked, resulting in Tommy closing his losing margin to only two games – but he was still under the "Tommy Line" of .500 at 35-36 for the year], Butch will officially pick this year's games with one eye closed while facing backward and hopping on one foot. Butch hopes this will give Tommy more of a chance since the last time Tommy beat Butch, gasoline was less than $2/gallon and cheese had not even been invented yet – nor for that matter, had cows. The carnage has been that complete. Now, granted, neither Tommy nor Butch were exactly world-beaters last year – Butch was only at 37-34, but that is good enough to beat the likes of Tommy – but Tommy has not seen the sunny side of the equator since, well, you know, the cow thing and he is always trying to distract Butch with those silly non-conference noogie games that nobody cares about until November. The reason Tommy is so far removed from reality is because he inadvertently relocated to the Midwest when – as Butch is to understand the story - a tornado picked him up and dropped him off in Illinois while he was looking at babes on the beach at Zuma. How many times has Butch told you Tommy – pay attention. Don't look at that g-string to and everything will be all….right…just…relax…and…have…another….beer…and…another…and…one more…okay, now pick!
Tommy: Well, we're back. I know you all missed us. Butch is on a streak similar to the one that Tommy was on to begin this column. Now Butch knows what the Notre Dame/USC rivalry feels like...long streaks of wins. Shoot, that means that Butch knows what a REAL rivalry is about. (A little big city/small town humor for ya.) Well, it's time for the Pac-10 to do its turn of baffling both of us. Let's see who gets baffled the most.
Butch: Being a Trojan - and therefore a representation of the losers of one of history's most famous battles – Butch is sure Tommy understands the concept well, so Butch will leave streaking to the Canadians. In fact, Butch is not even sure he can call Tommy a Trojan any longer – he has spent so much time in Big Ten country where they are haunted by identity issues and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge they are the Big 11, that Butch thinks his brain may be permanently addled. Once that happens, it is all downhill to the chocolate pudding, Tommy – ready for hoop season yet?
Oregon State (-3) at Stanford
Tommy: Ahhh, expectations are higher for the Trees now that they beat SC and Cal. Time for a rude awakening. Stanford has averaged one yard per carry in their last five games with OSU, and managed a whopping minus eight last season. It's harder when they see you coming. Bark Rats-24, Flora-9.
Butch: …and here is the part of that sentence Tommy forgot [most likely because of his Big 11 brain issue – see above]…"Stanford has averaged one yard per carry in their last five games with OSU, but now OSU does not have all those defensive run-stoppers this year, so the Trees win." The Canadians even came all the way down to Corvallis and tried to help the Beavers forget about that defensive problem they have but all they got for it was arrested. That's gratitude for ya. Butch takes the Trees to win and cover.
Wazzu vs. Oklahoma State (-6.5)
Tommy: Come on . The Pokes getting almost a touchdown in a road game? What have they done to deserve that kind of respect? Was it that loss to Troy last season? Their struggle against Florida Atlantic a few years ago? Is it them losing twelve of their last seventeen on the road? Maybe it's that their coach is a man and he was forty? Cougs pull the upset. Resurgence-38, Stillwaters Run Shallow-35.
Butch: He is 41 now, Tommy, but manly man is not sure how this newfangled internet thing works – where's the on/off switch? Butch would love to go with Tommy on the straight up version of his prediction but Wazzu has been suffering from the injury bug lately and with the new systems and all…well, let's just play it safe and go with the Cougars to cover.
USC (-19.5) at Virginia
Tommy: The Trojans have dominated non-conference road games under Pete Carroll. Ask Auburn, Arkansas, Hawaii, Nebraska, et al. This Cav team might not be as good as any of those. As a matter of fact, Tommy thinks that some suckage might creep into Charlottesville this season. It won't be pretty with a new quarterback who some people like to call "dirty," but the Cav offense isn't going to remind anyone of the teams with McFadden, Jones, Williams, and Brown on them. Defending Champs-27, Jefferson Definitely Didn't Invent Football-6.
Butch: No argument here on the straight up portion of that, but Butch does not – repeat – does not like double digit spreads in season openers and so he will take Tommy's boys of Troy to win but those swishy swashbuckling Cavaliers to cover.
Washington at Oregon (-14)
Tommy: The great Cardinal and Gold god has a sneaking suspicion that the Pac-10 is going to feast on Duck Soup this season, but it will have to wait for another few weeks. The Pups are bad enough to go winless in 2008, and they'll start that possible road in Eugene by getting embarrassed. Enjoy It For Now-38, Bye Bye Ty-17.
Butch: The only question in this game is – how long will quarterback Jake Locker last – until the next game? Even though it is a double digit spread, Butch takes the Nikes to win and cover.
Michigan State at California (-5)
Tommy: Tommy's got an inkling that the Dirty Hippies are on their way back this year, and they're starting to mimic the Nike U tradition of being really good one season and mediocre the next. Sparty doesn't excite the Skirted One with its wins over Notre Dame, Pitt, and the like. We Can Beat You Even With Longshore-36, Perennially Mediocre-21.
Butch: What is this, Tommy? Agreeing with Butch again? Next thing you know, you will be above .500. Butch has not been intrigued with any Big 11 team since Woody Hayes was smacking around players and all they know how to do in East Lansing is recite Magic's career stats. Butch takes the Fighting Tedfords to win and cover.
Idaho at Arizona (-27.5)
Tommy: Willie T is gonna have a big year, but the defense is going to take a big step back. That's OK against Butch's big rivals...the mighty Vandals. They couldn't find the goal line with a GPS. Stoops Will Be MAD after this one-40, Akey Stays Positive Even Though His Team Blows-10.
Butch: The double digit spread rears its ugly head again and look, Tommy, how many times has Arizona been listed as a double digit favorite under Stoops and won? Answer: Big fat zero – and all those games were at their lovely desert home too. Butch believes he will side with history on this one and go with the Spuds to cover.
Tennessee (-7) at UCLA
Tommy: The mind tells Tommy that with a garbage offensive line and a scrap heap quarterback, that the Bruins are going to get boloed. But the mighty Powders generally play the big names tough at home, and there will be some Neu love in bloom. Bruins lose, but cover. The Most Popular Man In The SEC-20, Chow Will Love This O Line-14.
Butch: They do not call him Neuweasel for nothing - but even he cannot do anything to stop this oncoming train wreck – mostly because him and Chow cannot go out on the field and actually play now that their eligibility is all used up. But he can still wager – hey Rick – you taking the points on this one? Butch is – he takes Tennessee to win and cover.
Last Year: 35-36
Last Year: 37-34
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