Let’s just get this out of the way up front. If this whole football season is going to be about whether some guy is kneeling for the national anthem, I may just have to tune out of pro ball.
There’s nowhere to go with this thing. There’s nothing that could actually happen that would unstick the burr from Colin Kaepernick’s saddle – or anyone else’s saddle, for that matter. How does he propose to know when there’s enough “justice” for him to stand up for the national anthem again? What is Brandon Marshall’s plan? If the Seahawks do a team protest on Sunday, what’s next, exactly?
If someone else is supposed to do something in response to these guys’ acts of “defiance” – what is it?
Since there’s clearly no answer to that, we’ll have to move on. Noting in passing that the Force, on Thursday night, was clearly the Denver defense. All the hits on Cam Newton: too much? Just business as usual? You decide.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, will be somewhere you never imagined on Saturday at 11:30 AM Central. That’s right: in Columbus, Ohio playing #4 The Ohio State. It seems almost unsporting to comment much further, given the virtual certainty of the outcome, unless three quarters of the Buckeye roster comes down with a paralyzing disease in the next 12 hours. And even then Ohio State would probably still prevail.
Still, Roar, Hurricane, roar!!! Reign ‘Cane! Buckeyes give 28 in the line. And if ESPN doesn’t show this game out here on the Left Coast, let me just point out, Mr. John Skipper, that I know how to hunt you down.
The University of Oklahoma Sooners, having plunged in their usual fashion to #14, and having gotten the early season Sudden Meltdown out of the way, will entertain Louisiana-Monroe in Norman on Saturday afternoon.
ULM ain’t necessarily beanbag, in spite of the odds. WR Marcus Green’s got chops, although at 5’9”, he won’t be able to disorient the youthful OU secondary by towering over it.
Big questions: which Baker Mayfield will show up tomorrow? Will Perine’s good health last more than a handful of plays this time? Will the corners stop playing Pokémon Go all over the field and look for the football instead?
Sooners give 46.
#22 Oklahoma State leads us out of the gate Saturday morning at 11 Central, hosting Central Michigan. The Chippewas, you will remember, beat Presbyterian 49-3 in their opener. The Pokes beat them last year, and are favored by 20 tomorrow. That said, starting Cowboy QB Mason Rudolph, who played about half of last week’s 61-7 blow-out over SE Louisiana, is still a work in progress.
Navy hosts U Conn Saturday, a game that should be more of a test than the Fordham game of what Navy’s made of this year (in spite of U Conn’s rather sorry current state). The Huskies barely beat Maine last week, so it’s like that. Navy’s still finding its footing. Mids give 4.
Army dealt impressively with Temple last week, and may well graduate to our coveted “Sudden” status with a win at home over Rice tomorrow. (And yes, Army is doing the Owls circuit in these opening weeks.) Once-respectable Rice lost badly to Western Kentucky last week, and has to adjust on Saturday to Army’s triple option, something teams in the C-USA Remnant very rarely see. For the first time in a long while, the Black Knights give 8.5.
Air Force gives 21 hosting Georgia State in Colorado Springs. The Panthers lost to Ball State last week.
Our LU Nation faves are in on some choice action this weekend. Virginia Tech goes big in Saturday evening’s marquee slot on ABC, heading west to take on #17 Tennessee at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN. VT QB Jerod Evans was all that and a bag of chips last week in the Liberty game, but the Vols should be a much bigger challenge, if they can get their hearts started before the third quarter this time.
We feel sure the game will end up being about the football and the teams. The Hokies can usually manage to make it about their D, one way or another. But the motor speedway is a huge venue, and they’re expecting over 150K fans in attendance, the biggest game crowd in the history of college football. Playing in the center of a motor speedway should be an interesting experience. Even the biggest FBS programs don’t get that sheer spatial separation between the field and the stands.
The oddsquad has Tennessee giving 11.5.
— Battle At Bristol (@BattleAtBristol) September 8, 2016
Nevada will be at #18 Notre Dame at 11:30 AM Central, hoping to avoid a blow-out. The Wolf Pack’s performance could have been a bit stronger with Cal Poly last week; the Arsh will be loaded for bear after succumbing in a squeaker to Texas. Notre Dame is favored by 28 in the line.
#21 LSU will get a welcome scrimmage opportunity hosting Jacksonville State (FCS, Ohio Valley). I’m working on a theory about an OU-LSU coaching swap. The fans in both states could use a fresh face to be annoyed about. Try it for a week, at least.
Kansas State has the week off, and a scrimmage opportunity of its own hosting Florida Atlantic next week.
#15 TCU plays Arkansas at home, which should be interesting. The Razorbacks barely prevailed last week over Louisiana Tech (motto: “Now that we’ve been out of the WAC so long, do we even still need a motto?”). Whereas a frisky TCU was fine but not breakout, topping San Diego State. Frog QB Kenny Hill, an accession from Texas A&M in the Endless OK/TX QB Shuffle, looked good in Game 1. There’s a load of Right Stuff on both sides of this one, but a lot of rebuilding work going on too. Frogs give 7.5.
Toledo busted Sun Belt champ Arkansas State’s chops last week, and gets Maine (FCS, Colonial) to kick around on Saturday. The scrimmage should help the Rockets hone their skills for Fresno State and a road trio to BYU in the balance of the month. No line for tomorrow, but if they’re betting out behind the barn, take points on Toledo.
Wyoming’s Cowboys are totally our dudes now, after edging out NIU last week in 3OT. We’re not giving them much of a shot at Nebraska, however, whose Notorious D might have been more, um, Infamous in the last couple of years, but can probably contain the Cowboys’ spark plug QB Josh Allen. That said, we’d suggest not taking all of those 24 points the Huskers are spraying around like confetti.
#1 Alabama is taking it easy hosting Western Kentucky. #2 Clemson hosts Troy. The spreads are divisible by two-digit numbers, so you get the drift. It’s creampuff weekend for the nosebleed section.
New #3 Florida State hosts Charleston Southern (FCS, Big South), which only an hour or so ago announced that 14 players would be suspended for tomorrow’s game. Some 32 players have been caught buying the wrong things with their financial-aid book money, and 14 of them will serve their one-game suspension on Saturday. This seems like a good call, given the certainty that it wouldn’t much matter if all 32 were suspended in the Florida State game.
#5 Michigan gives 35.5 hosting Central Florida.
Houston, having sprinted to #6 after the win over the Sooners, gets a scrimmage with Lamar (FCS, Southland). #7 Stanford has the week off.
Washington has wandered weirdly up to #8, and won’t get much of a challenge from Idaho on Saturday. Huskies give 37.5. #9 Georgia will host Nicholls State (FCS, Southland). #10 Wisconsin, in turn, won’t really test that suspicious new ranking at home, giving 23 to Akron.
Best of the rest
It’s an overmatched creampuff kind of weekend, so the fun match-ups are mostly Storied Rivalries tomorrow. BYU will be at Utah for the first leg of the three-way struggle for the Beehive Boot, with the Youths giving a parsimonious 3.
The annual rivalry bout for the Cy-Hawk Trophy is enlivened this year by Iowa being ranked #16. The Hawks are favored by 16.5 over the Cyclones.
If you didn’t know the game between East Carolina and NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) was a Storied Rivalry, shame on you. The teams will be playing for the Victory Barrel on Saturday. NCSU gives 5.
Pitt gives 4 hosting Penn State for their Storied Rivalry.
We’re sorry to have to say both teams suck, but the Boston College-U. Mass Storied Rivalry goes back to 1899, and they’re getting another lick in on Saturday too. Eagles give around 16 at last check.
The rivalry action hasn’t gotten to the exciting part of the season where the Texas teams play for kitchen utensils and the California teams play for hazardous waste materials. So we have that still to look forward to.
If you’re bored, Kentucky at Florida and Texas Tech at Arizona State ought to be pretty peppy.
In FCS, McNeese State takes on Louisiana-Lafayette in a cross-division match that could bring some fireworks. The Ragin’ Cajuns lost to Boise State last week, 45-10, whereas the Cowboys are a perennial tournament contender in the FCS. A win in Lafayette is by no means out of the question for McNeese. 80s and a good chance of rain for the 6 PM Central kickoff.
Rose-Hulman has an opportunity to redeem itself on Saturday, playing out of conference again at Millikin (Decatur, IL), which plays in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. The Millikin Big Blue may have a name eerily similar to the Blueboys RHIT succumbed to last week, and may have defeated Greenville (IL) last week to boot. But we’re saying they suck, and the Engineers will roll. 70s and rain for the afternoon match.
Christopher Newport U, coming off the conference win over Kean, heads to old rival Hampden-Sydney (between Richmond and Lynchburg) for a non-conference bout. Hampden-Sydney has beautiful scenery, but it plays lousy football. CNU should have the edge. Very warm, around 90, and overcast for the 1 PM Eastern game start.
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy kicks off the season at Coast Guard, in New London, playing the big game of the year for the Secretaries’ Cup. 80-ish and pleasant for the game. Go Mariners!
As noted, Denver prevailed over Carolina on Thursday night, starting our LU Nation line-up off right.
We aren’t giving the worthless, Romo-less Cowboys much of a shot hosting the Giants on Sunday. (Full disclosure: they’re my team, always have been, and always will be. Yes, love hurts. A lot, for more than a decade now.)
Two LU Nation teams lock horns on Monday night when the Steelers visit the Redskins. (Be warned: we sometimes entertain ourselves by referring to them as the Redskins Redskins Redskins.) The Skins haven’t fared well of late in this rarely-fought match-up. But the Steelers are getting the tiniest bit long in the tooth, and the Skins have gotten more of their funky stuff in one sock in the last year. Should be a good game. Pittsburgh gives 3.
New Orleans hosts Oakland in the early slot on Sunday, another of those Games That Should Tell Us A Lot. Saints give 1.5 in the line.
And, yes, Sunday is the anniversary of 9/11. The potential for player demonstrations against the national anthem hovers in the air. The NFL, for its part, will be airing special messages from Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush before the games.