Let’s note right off the bat that we’ve got that #4 dementedness sorted out. Whew. Now the CFP will have to catch up to reality on the #8 questionable-judgment issue. It’s a lesser challenge, and one we’ll just have work on.
So, OK, you have to get up pretty early in the week to beat the MAC at this time of year. They’re off in crazy-land again, playing big games on Tuesday and Wednesday, as if that’s the only time they can get quality prime-time coverage or something. More on our in-circle LU interest in that, down below.
For the godly, Judeo-Christian people who start FBS football on Thursday, #17 North Carolina will be at Duke here shortly for their Storied Rivalry game, played for the Victory Bell. And #15 Utah heads to Arizona State (one of our sometime LU hangers-on) a bit later in the evening. (Interesting that the Youths are donating only 5 to the cause, as of this writing.)
Cleveland at Bal’mer in the pros.
We hear there’s some political stuff going on this week too. Good luck with all that.
On Saturday, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-2), which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, plays what will be the American game of the season at Navy (6-2), which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 5 November 2016. Huh? Huh? Breathes there a man with soul so dead Who never to himself hath said, “Whoa, that’s spooky!”
The oddsquad has Navy giving 1 at the moment. It’s been going back and forth. That sounds about right. The caution I would urge is that Tulsa doesn’t defend the option very often, and hasn’t been a steel curtain against the run this year. But the Golden Hurricane has a good shot if it can deny Navy the secondary air “option.” Which Tulsa is well capable of doing.
Have to go with the alma mater on this one, but I won’t be heartbroken by any means with a Navy win. Navy beat Houston, and could very well play for the American title with a win against Tulsa. The Mids would be favored against their two remaining AAC opponents, East Carolina and SMU.
Just be there, for this one. Noon Saturday on CBS Sports Network.
The yuugeness is mirrored halfway across the country, with Oklahoma, the CFP #11, hosting now-unranked Baylor for what will still be a key Big 12 match-up in this time of Gameless-Championship Purgatory. Baylor may have been acting like it has a hormone disorder the last few games, but it’s still a very good team. And the Bears could send everything all whopperjawed for the Big 12 with a win in Norman – which the conference-leading Sooners have just the Sudden Lethargy history to hand them.
We’re horrified to see that OU is giving 17.5. Horrified, we say, and we’ll say it louder to make sure the universe hears us shaking that totem.
Oklahoma State, #13, gets to host Texas Tech in Stillwater, laying 12.5. The 7-2 Okie-Pokes are still very much in the Big 12 title hunt, and it is starting to look like it will all come down to Bedlam. But #16 West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, could certainly still throw a monkey wrench at the heavens in its upcoming meet with OU. Texas could actually help out its brothers to the north by knocking the Mountaineers off in Austin on Saturday.
Army (5-4) gets its shot at Notre Dame on Saturday, and we’ll just say we wouldn’t want to be Army on Saturday. Arsh give 14.
Air Force (6-3), proud winner of the 2016 Commander’s Trophy, hosts MWC opponent Colorado State in their Storied Rivalry game for the Ram-Falcon Trophy. It wouldn’t be an Air Force trophy if it weren’t protected under plexi-glass, presumably in case some overenthusiastic cadets get frisky with it. We’ve noted in previous years that it’s just…a ram and a falcon, mounted on a base. But the real question for Ram-Falcon trophy naysayers is, “So, do you have one, dude?” Falcons -6.
Virginia Tech has some gratifications to pick from this week: being the new #14 in the CFP ranking, and renewing the Storied “Battle of the Techs” Rivalry with Georgia Tech – at home, in Blacksburg, thank you very much. 5-4 GT has had better years, and the Hokies give 14. But this is another one they can’t go to sleep for. (No power tools or knickknacks change hands with this game.)
Nevada (3-6) hosts San Diego State Saturday night, and sadly is probably going to see its bowl hopes die on the home field. SDSU is 8-1 and leads the MWC West. Aztecs are favored by 23.5, but this one, like the rest, ain’t over till it’s over. So go Pack!
LSU has been bizarrely consigned to #24 after the feat of holding Alabama for three quarters and allowing only 10, so we continue to have our reservations about this whole CFP thing. The Tigers will be at #25 Arkansas for their Storied Rivalry, played for one of the greatest trophies of all time. Donald Trump can’t touch this trophy. It puts the reception hall at Mar-A-Lago to shame. If Liberace designed an occult icon for Nebuchadnezzar, it would be this trophy.
The cognoscenti call it the “Golden Boot.” We call it Galactic Bigliness of the highest order. LSU gives 7.
TCU, 5-4 after the thumping win over Baylor, has the week off.
If we knew a Toledo song, we’d sing it for Toledo, which posted a tense but exciting 31-24 win over Northern Illinois Wednesday night. If you weren’t able to catch it, we’ll just say this: 28 points by the Rockets in the second half. QB Logan Woodside opened up with relentless medium-yardage and conversion effectiveness, just when it counted. Very nice. So, OK, #21 Western Michigan still leads the division after whomping Kent State Tuesday night, and Toledo could really use a Buffalo upset of WMU next weekend (which isn’t at all likely). But there’s a path, at least. Rockets play Western Michigan on the 25th. They’re already bowl-eligible (8-2), of course.
Wyoming, 7-2 and leading the MWC Mountain, heads to the flea-bitten precincts of UNLV (3-6) on Saturday. We’re proud all over the Pokes for giving 7. We also suggest bringing along a supply of disinfectant.
#1 Alabama hosts Mississippi State, giving 30.
#2 Clemson hosts Pittsburgh, giving 20.5.
#3 Michigan hosts Iowa, giving 21.5. (A lopsided match-up for the marquee slot on Saturday evening. Not much game-of-the-week potential from our top 10 this week.)
#4 Washington hosts #20 USC, giving 8.5.
#5 Ohio State gives 29 at Maryland.
#6 Louisville hosts Wake Forest, giving 35.
#7 Wisconsin hosts Illinois, giving 26.
#8 Texas A&M hosts Ole Miss, giving 10.5. Watch for another upset here.
#9 Auburn will be at Georgia giving 10. (It may not be the game of the week, but it is the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, and one of our Storied Greats.)
Dubious #10 Penn State will be at Indiana giving 7.
Best of the rest
They may not be ranked this year, but Kentucky will be at Tennessee for one of the all-time great Storied Rivalries early on Saturday. Regrettably, they no longer play for The Barrel. Vols are laying 14.
And who would miss out on Minnesota at #19 Nebraska, playing for the $5 Bits of Broken Chair? This Storied Rivalry features not only a fake Twitter account and a crowdsourced trophy design, but a “four-era history” that stretches back to 1900, and, due to the ramifications of conference membership over the years, is suitably discontinuous. In a relatively straightforward mode, Nebraska gives 10.
In FCS, McNeese State is 5-5 and hoping to end the season on a positive note with a last outing against 3-6 Lamar (Beaumont, TX). It’s Senior Day for the Cowboys, and a pleasant evening looms for the 6 PM Saturday kickoff in Lake Charles, with upper 60s and partly cloudy skies.
In Div II, Slippery Rock (6-4) hosts PSAC opponent East Stroudsburg (4-6) for the final game of their season. We were startled to discover that the notable alumni of East Stroudsburg U. include Eric Matthew Frein, charged for the September 2014 attack on the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks that resulted in the death of one trooper and injuries to two others.
This leads us to suspect that the universities themselves don’t curate all the alumni lists you can find online.
A spectacular 50 and sunny for the 1 PM game start.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman is back to a conference-leading tie with powerhouse Franklin: both are 7-2 overall and 6-1 HCAC. RHIT hosts Earlham College (Richmond, IN) for the last game of the season on Saturday. The 0-9 Quakers are terrible, so the Engineers are likely to take this one and post their best finish in years. Clear, bright, and mid-50s for the 1:30 PM game start.
Christopher Newport, 6-3, gets to play host for the final game as well, bringing Southern Virginia U. (Buena Vista) in for an NJAC bout on Saturday. SVU is kind of sucky, at 2-7, but what could really suck about mid-50s and overcast for a rare 3 PM kickoff in Pomoco Stadium?
Merchant Marine is 4-4 heading into a Saturday home stand against Springfield College (MA), which comes in 5-4 and third in the Liberty League standings, behind Hobart and St. Lawrence. On paper this one has to be predicted for Springfield. But it’s been that way for almost every game this season, and USMMA has still posted some exciting wins.
Fake wrestler John Cena is a Springield alum, as is Hiroaki Aoki, an actual flyweight wrestler and founder of the restaurant chain Benihana of Tokyo. Go figure.
Low 50s and sunny for the 2 PM kickoff in Kings Point.
The good/bad news up front: LU faves Cowboys and Steelers will be having an epic showdown in Pittsburgh in the late afternoon slot on Sunday. Doggies. Steelers are giving 2.5.
But wait! – there’s more. Darned if we don’t have another infrequent LU-fave match-up, this one featuring Broncos at Saints in the early slot. Saints give 3.
Redskins entertain Vikings early, on the long end of 2.5.
Seattle battles the Death Star (-7.5) in Foxboro on Sunday night, and Bengals will be at Giants (even) on Monday night.