Certain sportswriters and handicappers would have you believe otherwise.
But there is no foolproof way to forecast the outcome of football games.
There is, however, one approach to predicting the future that has been around a lot longer than game films, depth charts and point spreads.
It’s called astrology. You know, the signs of the zodiac.
Don’t laugh. Scoffing just makes you sound like someone who believes that listening to a few blowhards in blazers on ESPN is a (begin ITAL) reasonable (end ITAL) way to foretell the Rose Bowl’s outcome.
So, with the help of syndicated horoscope columnist Jacqueline Bigar, let’s see what’s in the stars for the Cougars and Wolverines.
For some reason, this seems like an appropriately California flavored thing to do.
Let’s start with Washington State.
Cougars coach Mike Price, an Aries, is to enjoy a five-star day today. (On Bigar’s scale, that’s as good as it gets.)
“You become involved in a project of importance,” his horoscope reads.
Yeah, you might say that.
Think about it. You’ve got to figure a guy riding high on a five-star day is going to make the right moves.
Quarterback Ryan Leaf and running back Michael Black were both born under the sign of Taurus. They’re due four-star days. “Whatever is going on, all eyes turn to you,” their horoscopes say.
Wide receiver Chris Jackson, a Pisces, is scheduled to experience a three-star day. That’s not the greatest. But for what it’s worth, his horoscope suggests the Michigan secondary might not be playing a lot of zone. “Keep discussions on a one-to-one level.”
Leon Bender, a defensive tackle who happens to be a Leo, can expect a five-star day, according to Bigar. Did someone say Sack City?
A line from his horoscope for today says it all: “Let it all hang out.”
Yes, this would be the day to do that.
Now consider how the planets align for Michigan.
WSU fans might not want to hear this. But Heisman Trophy-winning cornerback and wide receiver Charles Woodson, a Libra, is due for a five-star day. “Don’t let anything bother you,” his horoscope says.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is a Leo, so put him in the five-star club, too. Still, there’s a line in his horoscope that’s either a harbinger of doom for the Cougs or a hint that the Big Ten champs might be a tad overconfident: “Laughter rings out wherever you celebrate.”
Quarterback Brian Griese is a Pisces, slated for a three-star day. “Go on a private retreat, fueled by a favorite fantasy,” his horoscope says.
Telling symbolism or utter nonsense? You make the call.
And finally, former President Gerald Ford, a UM football letterman, is a Cancer and that means he’ll be having a four-star day today.
His horoscope says “Quality conversations mark the day.”
Hmmm. Quality conversations? No offense, but it seems unlikely that football would be the subject. So maybe that means disappointed Michigan fans will be switching the tube off early and getting on with their lives.
Or perhaps it means something known only to the constellations and Ms. Bigar.
In any case, there you have it. Astrologically speaking, the Rose Bowl would appear to be pretty much a toss-up.
So maybe it’ll come down to turnovers.
But wait. Perhaps we’ve been looking at this thing all wrong. Maybe the New Year’s Day horoscopes aren’t offering a clear picture for a simple reason.
It’s the wrong day.
Sure, the game is today. But for many of the participants, the emotional impact - the lasting vibes, if you will - of the Rose Bowl’s outcome won’t really start to sink in until Jan. 2.
So what do the stars have to say about tomorrow?
Well, check out this snippet from Mike Price’s Jan. 2 forecast: “You have been partying hard. It’s time for a break.”
Says is all.
Doesn’t that sound suspiciously like cosmic advice tailored for a guy who is going to be celebrating into the wee hours this morning?
And consider this line from Leon Bender’s Jan. 2 horoscope: “Your views are welcome.”
Sure, there are Leos among the Michigan contingent, too. But none quite like the loquacious Mr. Bender.
He is well known for offering up highly entertaining quotes. And if people are still going to be seeking comments from him on the Day After, wouldn’t it suggest to you that it will be because he will have played a key role in a Rose Bowl victory?
Sure. Stands to reason.
See? Maybe this horoscope stuff isn’t as far out as it seems.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Staff illustration by Molly Quinn