As always, gonna smell some roses, but the garden is now in Arlington, Texas, instead of Pasadena at the actual Rose Bowl. Alabama is sitting at -20 and could win by 30 or more.

But before we get too technical, lemme take you all the way back to 2003 and Super Bowl XXXVII. It was the Oakland Raiders vs. the Tampa Bay Bucs, and the Raiders were a -4 point favorite. Why not? The Silver & Black came in at 11-5, led the league in total passing yards (4,689) and ranked second in total yards gained (6,451).

Rich Gannon had a Pro Bowl season, completing 418 of 618 passes for 4,689 yards and 26 TDs. On the morning of the Super Bowl, we found out that Oakland’s Barret Robbins, the Pro Bowl center, was missing. Not gonna get into the particulars, kinda sad, but you can Google it.

In any case, without question, the center is the second-most-important piece of the offensive puzzle after the QB. And with Robbins out, we made one of the largest bets ever. As you might remember, the Raiders came up on the short end, the way short end of a 48-21 score.

So, we’re bringing that story to this Rose Bowl because of an injury to Alabama center Landon Dickerson. Of course, ‘Bama trots out phenomenal offensive linemen year after year, but losing Dickerson, one of the best in the country, is a tough pill to swallow.

He is a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the best center in the country, and now he’s gone. Huge problem. The Crimson Tide are like a multimillion-dollar Ferrari on offense, and virtually unstoppable. The Fighting Irish will need to play way above their pay grade, limit turnovers to zero, and pray that Mac Jones is just a tiny bit off his game.

Not thinking for one tiny New York minute that Notre Dame is gonna crush the Tide like the Bucs did to the Raiders, but at plus-20, we’re taking a bite of the dog! A small- to medium-size bite because going against Nick Saban has dented my bank account more times than I would like to remember.

Swinging back to New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl, we’re gonna have to roll with Clemson over Ohio State.

The first thing that comes to mind is revenge for the Buckeyes. Last year, in this same spot, they lost to the Tigers, 29-23. Trevor Lawrence was pretty good (18-for-33, 259 yards), as was Justin Fields (30-for-46, 320 yards). But we know that Fields has a a sprained thumb, and yup, it’s the right thumb!

And since that is probably the most important finger when gripping the ball, that’s a huge issue. He hurt it against Northwestern, and boy did it show. He was only 12-for-27 for a measly 114 yards, with no TDs and two INTs.

Can Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields overcome a thumb injury?
AJ Mast / AP
Can Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields overcome a thumb injury?

Also thinking that the Buckeyes’ Big Ten slate was exceptionally weak, and of the six games they won, just two of those teams had a winning record. Speaking of winning records, Clemson has won 39 of its last 41! What?!

And yes, Dabo did provide some juicy bulletin-board material to jack up Ohio State, throwing shade at the Buckeyes for playing only six games. But the game is won on the field, not on the bulletin board. Gonna roll with Dabo, and buy the hook down to -7.

As we close out a very strange year, from me, Mrs. Vic and all the little Vics here in Vegas, wishing you all a happy and healthy, and, of course, profitable 2021!