Hoo boy. Another week, another epic hurricane threat hovering over football.
The Florida NCAA games may go ahead as scheduled (except #16 Miami/Da U, whose game against FCS opponent Arkansas State is canceled), but will there be anyone in town to watch?
Chiefs at Pats (-9) this evening as the NFL finally kicks off for real. Utah State will be entertaining Idaho State (FCS, Big Sky) as well, although it’s not being aired on the tube, as we old folks used to say.
**To all our treasured East Coast readers in LU Nation, especially those in Florida: stay safe out there.**
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, hosts the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (or, as our correspondent Citizen KH reminds us, “U-LA-LA”). ULLA is a Sun Belt club, and Tulsa is favored by 14.5 as of this writing. But the Ragin’ Cajuns aren’t so terribly bad that TU can sleep at the wheel. They grow big boys down there, and Tulsa’s scrappy little D is apparently still going out for refreshments at Quik Trip when it should be working the tackling dummies.
It seems the Cajun to watch out for is Raymond Calais from Breaux Bridge, who in the season opener ran back two kicks – 97 and 100 yards – for TDs. Heads up, ‘Cane. Saturday at 3 PM Central.
Oklahoma has fleeted up to #5 in preparation for the meet with #2 Ohio State, which as portents go is one of the worst. The Sooners invariably do better in clutch matches when they’ve been stumbling over their thumbs, and the sportsbabblers are shaking their heads and trying to think up new euphemisms.
But that was in the old Bob Stoops days. It’s a new ball game now. Can Riley adjust on the fly and neutralize whatever the Buckeyes settle down to bring? Neither team was impressive in the 1Q last week, and Ohio State wasn’t as dominating on defense as I expected. Indiana was a better test than UTEP, but not so much better that it’s cut-and-dried going into Saturday.
The Sooners got it going in the D rush last week, but the secondary will need to step it up versus Ohio State. The man coverage looked a little slack-jawed; not as much of a problem given that pressure was gradually reducing the Miner QB to a puddle of goo, but J.T. Barrett and his receiver corps will be a different order of challenge. Buckeyes give 7.
Oklahoma State dropped a slot to #11, in spite of the thumping win over Tulsa, when Michigan vaulted to #8 after knocking off #17 Florida. Fair enough. The Okie-Pokes won’t get well, top-10-wise, by heading to South Alabama on Friday evening. But they should get another big win out of it. OSU gives 28.
Navy hosts American conference foe Tulane on Saturday, both teams coming off convincing week 1 wins. Tulane’s program is on the upswing after a decade or more in the doldrums; Navy gives 13, and has the home field (a big deal, as you know, in Annapolis), but needs to look sharp. QB Abey’s arm seems to have settled down a bit – he completed more passes (3) than he had interceptions (0) last week – but triple option is the name of Navy’s game.
Army, also hustling the triple option, hosts Buffalo at noon on Saturday. The Bulls give 16, but we’re not so sure Army can’t cover in this one. Air Force has the weekend off, after slapping VMI around 62-0, and will be preparing for a huge visit to Michigan on 16 September.
New #18 Virginia Tech hosts the chicken showdown of the year on Saturday in Blacksburg, as the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens (FCS, Colonial) cluck into town. Notice that the Hokies don’t have to specify their “fightin’” variety, which we’re just saying. Delaware knocked off Delaware State 22-3 last week, but frankly, the average 6A high school team in Texas could knock off Delaware State. Should be a nice scrimmage for VT.
Nevada, we are excited to announce, will be hosting our very own Toledo in Mackay Stadium on Saturday. (Yes, we’ll get to Tulsa’s visit to the Rockets next week. All things decently and in order.)
The Wolf Pack and Rockets haven’t played since a brief run of games in the mid-1990s (one of which was the Las Vegas Bowl in 1995). Toledo is favored by 9.5, as one would expect given that the Wolf Pack is still coalescing around its air-raid offense. Nevada’s D will give Logan Woodside some holes to exploit.
#12 LSU hosts Chattanooga (FCS, Southern) on Saturday for a nice evening workout. The Mocs lost to FCS #5 Jacksonville State in Week 1/Part 1; they put up a respectable 13 points, but will be no match for LSU.
In our Les Miles Watch, we note his widely reported debut with an ESPN analysts’ panel during the Ohio State game last week. It seems he needed to go to the bathroom, and did.
Miles is slated to join play-by-play guy Tim Brando to announce games on Fox Sports this fall.
#19 Kansas State bellies up for another win, hosting Charlotte in the early bird special (11 AM Central) on Saturday. Charlotte (C-USA, but you knew that) lost out of conference to Eastern Michigan last week; the Wildcat give of 36.5 would probably be bigger if Kansas State bettors were more like their Sooner counterparts, and if Bill Snyder weren’t such a nice guy.
TCU has bobbled up to #23 after pummeling Jacksonville State in Week 1/Part 2, but the faceoff with Arkansas on Saturday will be another story. The Hogs crushed Florida A&M, as nature intended, and have the home field advantage. TCU looked good against a tough FCS team, and gives 3.5 heading into Fayetteville. Should be a close game, if not quite the death-by-cliffhanger match the two teams turned in last season in Fort Worth.
Wyoming eventually succumbed at Iowa last week, but will get a nice practice in on Saturday when Gardner-Webb (FCS, Big South) comes to town. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are traveling from Boiling Springs, NC, way the heck in the middle of nowhere (you should definitely visit before you die; many years ago there was a good soft-serve ice cream drive-in on the main drag), making this match-up our hands-down winner for sheer randomness for the week. Sadly, there won’t be broadcast coverage of the game.
#1 Alabama hosts Fresno State on Saturday afternoon, giving 43.5. We know you’ve been wondering how the Bulldogs came out against Incarnate Word: they prevailed 66-0.
New #3 Clemson hosts #13 Auburn in a premier cross-conference game that ought to generate some fireworks of its own. Clemson gives 5.
New #4 Penn State is favored by 22 hosting Pitt – and given the Panthers’ difficulty prevailing over Youngstown State in week 1 can probably cover.
USC slips to #6 after a scare with Western Michigan, and faces #14 Stanford in a PAC-12 showdown Saturday evening. Trojans give 6.5 at home.
Washington edges up to #7, and won’t lose a step hosting Montana (FCS, Big Sky).
Michigan, as mentioned earlier, has landed at #8, and is favored by 34.5 over Cincinnati on Saturday morning – not surprising, considering the Bearcats let Austin Peay score on them in a lackluster 26-14 win last week.
Wisconsin, hanging in at #9, is next up to host the Lane Kiffin FAU. Badgers give 32.
Florida State has plunged to #10 after the loss to Alabama. As far as we know now, the ‘Noles host Louisiana-Monroe in Tallahassee, giving 34. The game start has been moved up to noon; presumably it may still be a question mark given the current prediction that the whole state will take a major hit starting on Sunday.
Best of the rest
Iowa heads to Iowa State to face off for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, another of those early-season rivalries necessitated by the in-state teams being in different conferences. In what may be a nod to Iowa State’s improving rep, the Hawk give is only 2.5.
Utah, likewise, heads to BYU to compete for the Old Wagon Wheel, a most respectable rivalry trophy. The Youths give 1.5. Which is interesting.
The other Storied Rivalry erupting on Saturday, also between in-state rivals, sees New Mexico State at New Mexico to duke it out in the Rio Grande clash. We couldn’t be more excited to learn that the university stadium in Albuquerque has been remodeled, and renamed Dreamstyle Stadium. Dang. Lobos are favored by 7.
Old Dominion at UMass may or may not give us good football, but if you’ve kind of taken on UMass as a cult icon, and you took a couple of graduate courses at ODU many years ago, back when they hadn’t had a football team since 1940, you have to take an interest in this one. It’ll be a big gyp if the game isn’t at least being streamed via the Internet.
#15 Georgia will be at #24 Notre Dame, for those who like that sort of thing, and Nebraska at Oregon may not be a waste of time.
In FCS, McNeese State hosts Florida Tech (Melbourne, FL, off U.S. 1 just south of Cocoa Beach) on Saturday for an out-of-conference match. The Panthers are a Div II club (Gulf South Conference), and shouldn’t pose a big problem for the Cowboys, licking their wounds after the week 1 loss. Balmy and 80-ish for the 6 PM kickoff in Lake Charles.
In Div II, Slippery Rock hosts PSAC opponent West Chester for the Hall of Fame Game on Saturday at 6 PM. The Golden Rams lost big to Bentley U. on 31 August; we’re optimistic for the Rock after their week 1 win.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman hosts Millikin U. (Decatur, IL) of the College Conference of Illinois on Saturday. Millikin’s Big Blue crushed the snot out of Greenville (IL) last week, 76-3, so the Fightin’ Engineers will have their work cut out for them. Partly cloudy and around 70 at kickoff.
Christopher Newport hosts Hampden-Sydney (Old Dominion Athletic Conference) for an out-of-conference bout in Pomoco Stadium Saturday night. The Tigers beat Averett U. (from CNU’s old conference, USA South) last week, and won’t be a pushover. Cloudy and falling into the 60s for the 6 PM game start.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has the week off.
Pittsburgh leads our pro faves out of the gate in the early slot on Sunday, giving a healthy 8.5 at Cleveland. This is the opening game the police and EMS unions won’t be participating in, after Cleveland players had a kneeling circle for the national anthem during the pre-season. I admit, I’m not one of those folks who want to gloat over the NFL’s implosion in the last couple of years. I love football, remember the NFL’s better days, and want it to stop hurting and get well.
Meanwhile, Washington will be hosting the Iggles to kick the NFC East off with a whimper over on Fox. Philly gives 1.
Dallas hosts the Giants in the Sunday night game, rounding out the NFC East action. The Cowboys are favored by 4 (usually not a good sign, but we’ll see).
The Saints head to Minnesota on Monday night, giving 3.5.
As of this writing, Tampa Bay-Miami, as you can imagine, is postponed.