Football Follies 2014 – NCAA Week 6

Football Follies 2014 – NCAA Week 6
LSU's Travin Dural strikes a professional pose. (Image via Black Sports Online)

As LU contributor Jeff Dunetz noted this week, the FCC may soon be persuaded by a professorial activist to ban the use of the team name “Redskins” as an “indecent” word, one that should not be uttered in broadcasting.  This approach seems antithetical to the spirit of academic freedom, among other spirits Western civilization is supposed to admire, but then, the spirit of academic freedom was foresworn long ago in actual academia.

(Meanwhile, prime-time programming on the cable networks is now enhanced by the gritty realism of such formerly indecent words as “sh**” and “bullsh**,” and television is certainly the better for it.  I, for one, find the story narratives much more believable and compelling now.)

In any case, academia continues to have its priorities straight as regards football.  Tonight sees an absolutely huge, gigantic PAC-12 game that couldn’t be huger if you pumped a gaseous substance into it (which may in fact be part of the festivities, those PAC-12 teams coming largely from the Fruitnut Coast.  We’ll have to see).  Unranked Arizona is in Eugene to take on #2 Oregon.  Woohoo.  Oregon gives a bunch; 24 at last check.  (More on humongitude when we get to the SEC.)

Viewers from a select company in Florida will be gratified to see the Shula Bowl tonight as well: the accredited rivalry between Florida Atlantic and Florida International, which goes all the way back to 2002.  There’s a trophy, and it’s not totally lame, as trophies go.  See what you think; image below.

Acceptably unassuming, trophy-wise. The Shula Trophy (Image: Sun Sentinel/Ted Hutton)
Acceptably unassuming, trophy-wise. The Shula Trophy (Image: Sun Sentinel/Ted Hutton)

On Friday, Utah State will be at #18 BYU to play for the Old Wagon Wheel, which is our kind of garage-sale prize in these Storied Rivalries.  There has been regrettable skullduggery with the Wagon Wheel over the years:

Despite [the rivalry] being done in the “all-in-good-fun” spirit, this tradition has had its share of problems. The wheel has disappeared for years at a time after being taken by parties with no affiliation to either school.

We’d hate to see what the unaffiliated interlopers in Utah would do with a fully accredited rivalry goat.  BYU is giving some ridiculous number of points.

The Old Wagon Wheel (Image: BYU)
The Old Wagon Wheel (Image: BYU)

Inner Circle

Tulsa, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, will be at Colorado State on Saturday.  CSU, 3-1 and coming off a win over Boston College, gives 16.  Although we, personally, would never take points against Tulsa, you’d probably do your bank account a favor with a little point-nabbing here.  Besides its other advantages, CSU is a much (much) bigger school, with a much (much) bigger stadium.  Intimidating for the tiny contingent of Tulsa faithful that shows up for away games.

#4 Oklahoma invades Fort Worth to battle #25 TCU on Saturday.  (If you’ve ever lived through the visit from one of the perennial Top 10 teams, you know it is, actually, in the nature of an invasion.)   TCU is the proud possessor of the Iron Skillet for 2014, and both teams come in loss-free, which makes for an exciting Big 12 match-up.  Sooner fans know better than to back a big point give.  On paper, OU ought to slap the Toads all over the field, but barely pulling it out over teams like TCU 2014, or even losing to them, is what the Sooners are infamous for.  The give sits at 6 right now.

Oklahoma State, now #21 after some convincing wins – even without J.W. Walsh, and with the most inexperienced defense, like, ever, in the history of “Power 5” football – will be in Stillwater Saturday hosting Iowa State.  You may remember the 1-3 Cyclones from their Week 1 loss to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State; they’ve added to the mystique since by losing to Kansas State and Baylor.  Advantage, Okie Pokes, by 17, according to the oddsdudes.

Navy and Air Force kick off the race for the Commanders’ trophy in Colorado Springs on Saturday.  This one won’t be a gimme for either squad.  Navy, currently giving 4, comes in 2-3 with quality losses to Ohio State and Rutgers as well as Western Kentucky.  Air Force, 3-1, comes off an inspiring win over Boise State.  Army hosts Ball State; both teams are 1-3, and Army stands a good chance of bettering its record.

Big ACC match-up Saturday as 3-2 Virginia Tech heads to 2-2 North Carolina for a Coastal Division showdown.  As is so often the case, records are all but indistinguishable in the Coastal Division – and that condition will usually last throughout the season.  Every win counts, for that shot at Florida State in the title game.  Tech could use the shot in the arm here, in any case.  Hokies give 3, and would give more if they would just stop with whatever thing it was they started doing wrong with the New Offense, after the excellent adventure against Ohio State.

Nevada will host Boise State Saturday for one of the Wolf Pack’s big games of the season – although the Boise State rivalry is no longer, technically, an annual event.  Boys Estate looks beatable after some so-so performances, bringing more losses at 3-2 than Nevada does at 3-1.  The oddsquad still awards the Broncos the edge, with a give of 4, but we don’t despair of seeing the Pack pull this one out.

In game of the week territory, #15 LSU will be at #5 Auburn for a genuinely humongous SEC bout with implications out the wazoo.   The Tigers-Squared game is an accredited rivalry, of course.  Auburn gives 8, but lacks Heisman-level receivers this year, and QB Nick Marshall is the team’s second leading rusher behind Cameron Artis-Payne.  LSU brings some big offensive weapons in WR Travin Dural and RBs Leonard Fournette and Kenny Hilliard.  Auburn does have just the D to shut them down, and LSU still needs some sweeping and dusting in the D department.  Should be a good game, and by no means a gimme for the Alabama Tigers.

Wyoming is off this week and will be preparing to play Hawaii next Saturday in their Storied Rivalry.

Obligatory

#1 Florida State hosts Wake Forest on Saturday, and people are actually betting on the game.  38-point give for the ‘Noles.

In an event of yet more humongitude, #3 Alabama trudges to #11 Ole Miss for their Storied Rivalry match-up.  Technically, the game could have wazoo-blasting implications like the Tigers-Squared bout, but we’re going with our gut on this one and suspecting it will be eclipsed in the game-of-the-week sweepstakes.  Tide gives 7.

The humongitude continues with #6 Texas A&M heading for #12 Mississippi State (what, nobody in the SEC is playing one of the also-rans this week?).  Even the computer is emitting smoke at this point, and our fearless prediction is that there will be no big surprises from the SEC Matches of Humongitude in Week 6.  Famous last words, etc.  The Bulldog faithful have them giving 3, which we admire tremendously.

#7 Baylor heads to Austin to put in time at Texas, which we fear has little hope of goring the Bears this year.  The oddsquad pronounces a Baylor give of 15.  UCLA is making another pointless detour through the Top 10, clocking in at #8, but the Utes may be just the opponent to put a stop to that.  Bruins give 14, but we’ll see.  #9 Notre Dame hosts #14 Stanford in their Storied Rivalry bout for the Legends Trophy, and some folks will be excited about that.  It’s a rare urge when we want to say “Go Stanford!” – but this is one of those weekends.

#10 Michigan State hosts #19 Nebraska, which just keeps hanging around the Top 25.  Spartans perch on a 7-point give, and not just because of home-field advantage.

Best of the rest

Kansas State, #23 and laboring to break out of the second tier, has an interesting opportunity on Saturday hosting Texas Tech.  Strong possibility of a good game here.

It’s a good week for rivalries, starting with the Storied Rivalry of Fresno State and San Diego State, which will battle on Friday evening for the Oil Can.  As you can imagine, we are slimy brown with envy of this truly awesome, rivalry-worthy garage-sale junk trophy.

A prize worth fighting for.
A prize worth fighting for.

Florida and Tennessee are having their Storied Rivalry match on Saturday, which may not be September anymore, but will probably have the same weather.  Vols give 3.

Purdue and Illinois will duke it out for the Purdue Cannon, which is a trifle flashy as rivalry trophies go, but not gaudy enough to build a cult following around.  We give it a qualified thumbs up.

If you weren’t aware that NC State (Motto: “They have a football team?”) and Clemson have a rivalry, and that it’s called the Textile Bowl, you really should have been.  Who wouldn’t want to play in a game called the Textile Bowl?  The game has been played between the two teams since 1899.  If there’s bric-a-brac – or perhaps a tasteful fabric swatch to commemorate the event – we find no record of it.  Tigers give 15 for the Saturday meeting.

One of the fell consequences of playing musical conferences is that fine old programs like Michigan will one day end up playing their first games against riffraff like Rutgers’ Scarlet Commies.  Look for this regrettable development on Saturday, with Rutgers giving an unseemly 2.

Georgia Southern plays New Mexico State for the first time this weekend.

Arizona State at #16 USC may not be a total waste of time on Saturday night.

Other ranks

In FCS action, McNeese State is hanging in at #4 in the coaches’ poll.  The Cowboys, digging in for the Southland Conference stint, will host Nicholls State on Saturday in Lake Charles, and we’d be remiss not to mention that the 0-5 Colonels have quality losses to Arkansas (73-7) and North Texas (77-3) on the books this season, to go with their FCS losses.  We think McNeese State can take ‘em.  A ridiculous 72 and clear for the 6:00 PM kickoff.

In Division III, Rose-Hulman (3-0) hosts Anderson U. (IN) on Saturday.  The Ravens come in 1-3, and a hot-running Fightin’ Engineer squad has a good chance to better its record.  That said, Anderson did snap a long losing streak last weekend, bagging the first win since September 2011, so you never know.  It’s homecoming weekend in Terre Haute, and real football weather is expected for the 2:00 PM CDT kickoff:  54 and overcast.  Fall!

Christopher Newport, coming off the exciting 2OT win over Methodist, hosts one of our all-time favorite teams in Pomoco Stadium Saturday night:  the Panthers of Ferrum College in Ferrum, VA.  (Someday we’ll share the exciting story of Ferrum, VA and the sorely needed restroom.)  A front comes through Newport News on Saturday morning, but upper 60s and clearing skies are expected for the 7:00 PM kickoff.

Merchant Marine struggled in its first conference match last week, losing big to Hobart, but has the chance to climb back on the horse Saturday hosting Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY) in Kings Point.  RPI’s squad plays as the Engineers, and we’re sure has the best cheers in the NCAA.  RPI is 3-1 after a win last week over Worcester Polytechnic.  60s with a 90% chance of rain at 1:00 PM.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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