Football Follies 2016: NCAA Week 4

Football Follies 2016: NCAA Week 4
VT FB Sam Rogers churns in the 2Q of the Hokies' painful final-seconds loss to ECU, 28-21, in 2014. (Image: Screen grab of ACC Network video, YouTube)

It feels like it ought to be later than week 4, now that Oklahoma has lost so many times.  Hey, don’t say we didn’t warn you, sportsbabblers.  If you really think Oklahoma is going to run the table in a given year, just keep your mouth shut.  Celebrating it early is always a jinx.  Immutable law of the universe.

#5 Clemson downed Georgia Tech handily last night.  In NFL action, the Death Star blanked Houston.  Now we can all move forward.

Inner circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, heads to Fresno on Saturday to take on Fresno State.  The Bulldogs are 1-2 and having real problems getting focused on defense this season.  Tulsa has won the last two in the teams’ six-game all-time series, including the 2005 Liberty Bowl.  After racking up yards and points in their two wins to date, the Golden Hurricane gives 14.

New #25 Oklahoma, we are relieved to report, has the week off.

Oklahoma State hits the road to take on #16 Baylor (3-0) on Saturday.  All in all, the Big 12 picture is not what most of the babble-roonies thought it would be by this time.  That said, Saturday will be Baylor’s first real test of the season.  2-1 OSU has had enough Just Plain Weird in three games to last all the way through the Booger Bowl extravaganza, and then some.  The Bears are giving 8.5, but signs point to a good game in Waco.  We basically never count the Cowboys out.

Navy is off this week.

Army will be at the terrible 0-2 Buffalo Bulls, giving – get this – 14.

Air Force gives 3.5 at Utah State (which so far has beaten Arkansas State and lost badly to USC).

For Virginia Tech, the dreaded weekend has arrived.  Yes, it’s…East Carolina time.  The Purple Pirates are pretty good every year, always a contender in their conference (currently the American), but not overwhelmingly dominating.  For some reason – we’re speculating on a voodoo curse – they have a surprising record of upsetting mightier Virginia Tech.

The Hokies slapped BC silly last week, finally strutting some of that stuff we knew they had.  QB Jerod Evans is beating the high expectations, and DE Ken Ekanem rules the rush.  Both teams come in with their marquee players intact; the match-up to watch may be the Pirates’ yard-gobbling air game versus the Hokies’ top-flight pass defense.  Both sides of the ball are facing their biggest test so far in that regard.

VT gives 12.  And they can cover, if they can avoid dropping the dang ball.

Nevada seems to be on a crusade to wear out its welcome in Indiana this fall.  After a respectable showing versus Notre Dame two Saturdays ago, the Wolf Pack will be in West Lafayette tomorrow to take on Purdue for the first time ever.  Purdue (1-1) sucks, and should probably just go start a two-team conference with Kansas.  But who could say no to a September Saturday in West Lafayette?  Nevada gives 5.5.

New #18 LSU will be at 1-2 Auburn this weekend, which showed some spunk in the opener with Clemson, but looked more like a wet noodle in last week’s Texas A&M game.  The Storied LSU-Auburn Rivalry goes back to 1901, but isn’t played for any interesting knickknacks.  With a wary eye on LSU’s occasional, um, performance issues, the oddsquad has them giving 3.5.

Kansas State hosts again on Saturday, entertaining the Bears of Missouri State (FCS, Missouri Valley Asylum). The Wildcats should have no trouble with the 2-0 Bears, but we hear the real action will be in the northwest concession booth.  With rain expected all day, that’s where everyone in the stadium may end up.

It will be an exciting Friday evening for TCU, which will struggle through traffic to meet metro-area rival SMU at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.  This is one of those Storied Rivalries we swoon over, because it’s played for the coveted Iron Skillet.  The Frogs have had the Skillet since 2012, and are likely to hang onto it (which, if you’re a frog in Texas, is merely a good survival plan).  SMU hasn’t done too badly so far, however, with a win over North Texas and a not-unrespectable loss to Baylor.  Frogs give 21.

Toledo has the week off, after softening Fresno State up for Tulsa.  The Rockets will be at BYU next week for a first-ever meet.

Wyoming is off to seek its fortune in Ypsilanti – like TCU, on Friday evening.  Eastern Michigan hasn’t been terrible so far, but to put that in context, non-terribleness has consisted of scoring 21 points on Mizzou in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, before the Tigers put the middle-schoolers on the field in their 61-21 blow-out.  The oddsdudes are giving the much-refreshed 2-1 Cowboys some respect as a 4-point favorite.

The one and only:  Horned Frog life insurance plan.  (Image via Big12-fans.com)
The one and only: Horned Frog life insurance plan. (Image via Big12-fans.com)

Top 10

#1 Alabama leads Saturday off hosting Kent State.  The spread is 44 at the moment.

New #2 Ohio State has the week off.  Really new #3 Louisville will be at Marshall giving 26.

#4 Michigan hosts Penn State, giving 18.  Bottom line: not expecting any sudden movements from the top 5 this week.

#6 Houston visits Texas State, with a 34-point advantage.

#7 Stanford is at UCLA Saturday evening for the marquee-slot match.  The Dusty Brick is giving only 3, as befits these California PAC-12 meets.  But we’re not figuring on any breakouts from the Bruins.

#8 is now Michigan State, which bids fair to be hosting the game of the week with #11 Wisconsin.  Frankly, we here at your LU Football Commentary Service would happily swap the Badgers for Provisional #9 Washington and call it a deal.  Spartan give is 4.5.  Should be a good one.

Washington heads to Arizona, which is sick and lame if by no means lazy.  With a very iffy starting QB and minus their best pass rusher, the Wildcats aren’t expected to give the Cougars much of a fight.  Washington gives 14.

Texas A&M, soaring to a dubious #10, meets #17 Arkansas in their Storied Rivalry at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.  No goodie bag for this one; just bragging rights.  A&M gives 6, but we so would not count out the Pig-Hogs in this one.

Best of the rest

#19 Florida will be at #14 Tennessee for their Much Storied Rivalry, with the Vols giving 6.  Rabid Gator and Vol fans would assure you this is the game of the week.  This is the centenary of the rivalry, which usually has great football, and in recent decades has always produced one of the world’s great automotive wonders on I-75.  Let’s just say innocent bystanders on the roadway know when they’re beat.  (The official “Battle of I-75” is, of course, Toledo and Bowling Green, a bit further north.)

We’re intrigued that Central Michigan will be at Virginia on Saturday.  The two teams have played only once before, in 1996.

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State is struggling at 1-2 and could really use a win at Incarnate Word (San Antonio) on Saturday.  The Coaches Poll hasn’t given up on the Cowboys; they’re hanging in at #20.  But they seriously need to log a win over the 1-2 Cardinals in this Southland bout.  Rain will be moving in on a muggy Saturday evening and is pretty certain to drench some of the game after the 6 PM kickoff.

In Div III, Rose-Hulman, 2-1, heads to Defiance College (Defiance, OH) for a Heartland Conference match with the 1-2 Yellow Jackets.  Overcast and 75 for the 1:30 PM game start.

Christopher Newport, 3-0 after a serious quality win over Div III #17 Wesley College, will be on the road with NJAC foe The College of New Jersey (Ewing) on Saturday.  CNU is test-driving a new #24 Div III ranking, and we’re hopeful but not complacent against the 0-2 Lions in their den.  70-ish and pretty perfect for the noon kickoff.

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, 1-1, hosts Rochester U. (NY) for the Mariners’ homecoming weekend on Saturday.  Conference opponent Rochester comes in 1-1 as well, and wants you to know they’re not those bargain-basement Yellow Jackets; they’re Yellowjackets, thank you very much.  If we haven’t noted before that Chuck Mangione and famous sex-change person Renee Richards are notable alumni, we’re noting it now.  We doubt that it will affect the game.  Right around 72 and cloudy for the 2 PM game start.

Pros

There was a case of severe shock suffered locally this past Sunday, when the LA Fox affiliate, which in a godly world would have carried the Dallas-Washington game, broadcast three pointless hours of pre-game coverage from the Coliseum parking lot, just because it was the Rams’ first home game in LA in, like, a totally long time.  Emergency responders had to be called.  (Here where the shock was being suffered, that is.)

Fortunately, Dallas is hosting Chicago on Sunday Night Football, so Fox 11 LA can’t mess that one up for us.  Dallas may, of course, although they’re giving 7.5.

Redskins will be at Giants (-3) for an NFC East flea-pickin’.

Steelers (-3.5) will be at Eagles, and we suppose the Eagles will commit enormities against the national anthem again.  Whale the snot out of them, Steelers.

The Saints (-3), which kind of fit the definition of “behaving stupidly” at the moment, at least on the gridiron, host a 1-1 Atlanta for NFC South action (motto: Still not as crazy as the NFC East!) on Monday night.

Denver may come in 2-0, and Cincinnati may have lost to Pittsburgh last week, but the oddsquad has the Bengals giving 3 in this early-slot match in Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.

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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