Football Follies 2016: NCAA Week 5

Football Follies 2016: NCAA Week 5
Toledo WR Cody Thompson hauls in another one, in the 52-17 rout of Fresno State, 17 Sep 2016. (Image: Screen grab of utrockets video, YouTube)

A touch of philosophizing.  The pendulum seems to have swung a bit, and suddenly there’s hotness in the ACC and the Big 10.  Except for an iffy Texas A&M at #9, Alabama is carrying the SEC banner alone, up at the commanding heights.  It’s hard to choose between #3 Louisville at #5 Clemson, and #8 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan, as the game of the week.  The Big 12 is nowhere in sight; the PAC-12 is a one-trick pony (really; Washington ain’t all that).

What decade or era does it feels like again, if any?  You pick.

Inner circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, has the week off after an edge-of-the-seat OT victory over Fresno State.

Oklahoma, now south of 25, will be in Fort Worth to take on new #21 TCU.  We both love and hate it when our LU Nation faves play each other.  The Sooners are a 3.5-point favorite, which shows how discouraged Sooner bettors are, given that TCU has no defense to speak of.  OU’s D has actually been improving, and may be able to corral Frog QB Kenny Hill, who makes up about half the TCU running threat in addition to his throwing prowess.  (If he had a true multi-threat receiver corps, the Toads would be even more dangerous.)

That said, we do figure it will be close, a shoot-out, and could go either way.

Oklahoma State gets to host #22 Texas, which will help.  The Pokes hung in there better than necessary with Baylor last week, and should by no means be counted out in their own house.  Texas, of course, lost a painful one to Cal last Saturday, but isn’t miscast in the top 25 so far, based on a resurgence of performance and potential.  The oddsquad has OK-State giving 2.5; we’d switch that.  -Ish.

Navy plays at Air Force on Saturday, kicking off the Commanders’ Cup action for the season.  Both teams come in 3-0.  With Navy having lost a step in the senior stampede out the door last year, and Air Force much improved, it bids fair to be a very competitive game.  The Falcons give 7, which looks good on paper.  But the service academies always outdo their paper profiles in the rivalry matches.

Army has the week off.

Virginia Tech, having dealt summarily with the Purple Nemesis, takes a well-deserved week off.  This is one interesting ACC we’ve got developing, and the Hokies themselves are part of that (as opposed to, say, North Carolina and Virginia, which – let’s face it – just aren’t this year).  Use the time well, battle birds.

Nevada’s giving 3 at Hawaii, even after losing unnecessarily to Purdue.  The Wolf Pack just couldn’t get a running game going.  Div II teams playing North Dakota State have put up better numbers on the ground.  So:  Indiana 2, Nevada 0 this fall.  The Pack has a good chance to redeem itself in Hono.

Now south of 25 and Les-less for the first time in over a decade, LSU will host Missouri on Saturday.  2-2 Mizzou sucks gravy, but we think the 13-point LSU give under interim coach Ed Orgeron (fleeted-up defensive line coach, one-time head coach at Ole Miss) is a tad optimistic.  That said, now is definitely the time to have Mizzou on the schedule.  With Fournette’s ailing ankle, LSU really needs to work harder on having an “offense” as opposed to “an occasional alternative to Fournette.”

Kansas State takes off to confront West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, in Morgantown on Saturday.  WVU is coming off a 35-32 win over BYU, and downed Missouri in week 1, whereas K-State has thrashed lesser teams since the opening loss to Stanford.  The Mountaineers are giving 3.  The game should be quite competitive.  Sadly, the northwest concession booth in Snyderville will be a ghost town this weekend.

For LU Nation, Toledo at BYU will be the big game Friday night.  (The PAC-12 has its own shindig scheduled, and we’ll get to that.)  This is the two teams’ first meet ever, and although the oddsbubbas like BYU for it, by 3, the spread basically shows properly deserved respect for the Rockets.  The Cougars may not look like much, at 1-3, but then you look at who they’ve lost to: Utah, UCLA, and WVU, all by three points or less.  And they started a tough opening schedule by beating Arizona, 18-16.

Toledo, meanwhile, beat last year’s Sun Belt champ in the opener, and stunned Fresno State and fed them to the sharks two weeks ago (besides burying Maine, which counts for less).  Rocket QB Logan Woodside can throw like a batting-cage machine, and has a multi-threat receiver corps.

There’s a feel about the Rockets that they haven’t really gotten down to business yet, because they haven’t gotten into the meat of MAC play yet.  But their out-of-conference matches are preponderantly quality meets – and they’ve won, decisively.  Beware, MAC. They’ve got some stuff.  This should be a good game.

Wyoming will be at Colorado State Saturday night to play for the Bronze Boot, token of a Storied Rivalry that goes back to 1899.  We do prefer grimy things from the trash-day pile as our rivalry prizes of choice, but a bronze boot isn’t the most boring thing football teams play for.  The Rams give 6.5 in this one, which is justifiable on paper in most years.  The Cowboys have a better shot than they’ve had in quite a while though.

Motivation.  The Wyoming-Colorado State Bronze Boot. (Image: Wikimedia Commons, user Whyoh)
Motivation. The Wyoming-Colorado State Bronze Boot. (Image: Wikimedia Commons, user Whyoh)

Top 10

#1 Alabama (-35) hosts Kentucky, spraying points like a paintball gun.

#2 Ohio State (-38) hosts Rutgers, spraying even more.

As mentioned, #3 Louisville will be at #5 Clemson for a rock-em-sock-em ACC showdown.  This one gets the marquee slot on Saturday evening, but the Big 10 may overshadow it from the afternoon perch with #4 Michigan hosting a YUUGE clash with #8 Wisconsin.  Blue gives 10, as opposed to the Cardinals giving 2 on the road.  But we think the smackdown in Ann Arbor could be closer than that.  Vittle up; there’s serious football on tap.

#6 Houston hosts American Conference foe UConn on Thursday night, giving 27.5.

Friday night offers #7 Stanford at #10 Washington, which your average pigskin aficionado would say is the game of preference over Toledo’s excellent adventure.  What do they know.  It’s true that the Cinnamon Stick only gives 3, but (a) they’re on the road, and (b) PAC-12 bettors are a joke.  You want betting, you need the rowdy Big 12 and SEC crowds.  Bashful Blush to cover.

#9 Texas A&M will be at South Carolina (motto: The Other USC), giving 18. (Or: Thee-Hit Wonder Goes for Four.  Our regular correspondents can explain that one.)

Best of the rest

We mention Texas Tech (ha) hosting Kansas (hahahahahahahaaaa) here only because they’re playing Thursday night, and make a viewing alternative to the NFL’s Miami at Cincinnati offering.  (Which actually may be kind of interesting.)

#11 Tennessee will be at #25 Georgia to renew their Storied Rivalry.  Vols give 2.  Wake Forest and NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) will be putting in time in the Tobacco Road state rivalry series.

#16 Ole Miss (-14.5) hosts Memphis for their long-running Mid-South Rivalry.

In other Storied Rivalry action, Ohio will be at Miami (OH) for the Battle of the Bricks, one of the very few sports rivalries consciously named for architectural building materials.  As far as we can tell, there isn’t another one – but you never know what sources of fascination lurk in the Other Ranks.  Bobcats are a 2.5-point favorite.

Northern Illinois at Ball State will be played for the Bronze Stalk, which is a most satisfyingly silly thing to bronze, and we say more power to them.  The 3-1 Cardinals are less than half bad this year, and give 4.5.

Florida Atlantic (-6.5) will be at Florida International for the newfangled Shula Bowl.  This vintage 2002 Rivalry could use some serious Storying up, and perhaps would benefit from bronzing a bathroom cleaning implement or something of that nature.

Hey, a cornstalk is a Big Effing Deal in these parts. (Image: NIU Media via Northern Star)
Hey, a cornstalk is a Big Effing Deal in these parts. (Image: NIU Media via Northern Star)

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State comes off a much-needed win to host Southland rival Nicholls State (Thibodaux, LA) in Lake Charles on Saturday.  Nicholls is no creampuff; its 1-2 record was compiled with very narrow road losses to Georgia and South Alabama.  The Cowboys will have their hands full.  70s and a touch crisper than usual at game time on Saturday.

In Div III, Rose-Hulman hosts HCAC foe Anderson U. (Anderson, IN) for homecoming weekend. The Ravens are 1-3 to the Engineers’ 3-1.  60s and a strong chance of rain for the 2 PM kickoff in Terre Haute.

Christopher Newport is now 4-0 and ranked #22 in the Div III poll.  The Captains will be in Glassboro, NJ to take on conference opponent Rowan U. (3-1; 6-4 in 2015) on Saturday evening.  Thunderstorms are pretty certain, with 60s, at the 6 PM game time.  Hurricane Matthew is on the prowl.  Prepare for delays.

Merchant Marine, 2-1 and still wandering around stunned after slaughtering Rochester 55-7, will be in Geneva, NY Saturday to take on Liberty League rival Hobart, of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  Although Hobart doesn’t sound quite right in the head, they tend to bob to the top in Liberty League play.  But the Mariners could well give the Statesmen a good game this year.  12 PM kickoff with rain and 60s.

Slippery Rock plays at California (PA) on Saturday, which comes in 3-0 and leading the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s (PSAC) West Division.  Slippery Rock is 4-0, but then, everybody knows that.  Cal (PA) is a people-crusher, but if The Rock can knock them off, SRU will vault to the top of the West Div.  Expect 70s and showers for the 1 PM kickoff.

Pros

Redskins (-7.5) host Cleveland in the early slot.

Dallas heads to San Fran for the late-afternoon slot on Sunday.  Since the Rams will also be on Fox at that time, we won’t see the Dallas game here.  Life under a new regime.  Dallas’s 2-point give doesn’t sound as hilarious as it would have three weeks ago.

Denver (-3) will be at Tampa in the late slot.  The Broncos looked more decisive than prognosticators expected at Cincinnati this past weekend; they haven’t aged out yet.

Rounding out the late-afternoon action, winless New Orleans has found someone to actually give 4 points to in San Diego, where “injury” is the new/hot trend.

Steelers (-4.5) could really use the win hosting Kansas City for Sunday Night Football.  We’ll hope they remember to bring the D this time.

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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