The FBS week kicks off big tonight with #20 Kansas State hosting #5 Auburn. The oddsquad is being cautious, awarding Malzahn’s Tigers just an 8-point advantage. Can the Wildcats knock it out of the park for the Big 12? They’ll have to shut down the relentless Auburn running game to bring it off. Last we heard is that Sammie Coates will be back running routes for the Tiger offense as well. Tune in at 6:30 PM CDT to find out what the Wildcats can accomplish.
Tune in Friday evening for Connecticut at South Florida, which we sort of care about now because it’s an American Conference game. Given the old Tampa connections, we have to root for the Bulls in this one. Conveniently, they’re giving 2 as of this writing.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, has a well-timed weekend off, much to the relief of the fans.
#4 Oklahoma heads to West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, on Saturday for a big conference match. The Mountaineers have shown promise and flash this season, losing only to #3 Alabama (and that not very badly, 33-23). They won’t be a pushover. OU gives 8 in the line. The Sooners’ win last week was certainly gratifying, but they’ve got things to clean up as they move into Big 12 play. WVU will give them a good test, although I can’t say I’m overly impressed with what Tony Gibson’s been doing with the D.
We do note that the Sooners will reportedly be wearing their alternate “bring the wood” uniforms (hey, we didn’t name ‘em) in Morgantown, the first time the team has worn an alternate uniform on the road since Texas Tech blew them out in Lubbock in 2009. So if you’re a Mountaineer fan, you may believe in magic.
Oklahoma State has Saturday off but will host Texas Tech on Thursday the 25th. More practice time for young back-up QB Daxx Garman.
The service academies have their work cut out for them this weekend. Navy will be at home on Saturday against Rutgers, whose student body has been snarky and disrespectful so many times that we here at your LU Football Commentary Service are permanently set against them. Kill, Navy, kill. Navy gives 7, but Rutgers isn’t a creampuff on the field. Army heads to Wake Forest, which granted is pretty bad this year, but now Army has to overcome the voodoo hex of a 3-point advantage. Air Force has the weekend off, and will be preparing for Boise State on the 27th.
Virginia Tech has bowed back out of the Top 25 after last week’s regrettable incident with ECU, about which we shall say no more. But the Hokies will at least be the hosts for the annual “Battle of the Techs” with ACC rival Georgia Tech on Saturday. That’s a start. Georgia Tech comes in 3-0, but has actually allowed some healthy point totals from weak opponents (Wofford, Tulane, and Georgia Southern), while not outscoring them wildly. All VT has to do is show the same chops they showed in the Ohio State game to cover their 8-point give.
Nevada has the weekend off after the oh-so-close loss to Arizona. San Jose State on the 27th.
#8 LSU continues to climb the charts with solid wins, and looks to do so again hosting Mississippi State on Saturday. That said, the Bulldogs have pulled off some pretty convincing wins over middling-to-good opponents so far – Southern Miss, U. Alabama-Birmingham, and South Alabama – and won’t be a pushover. Tigers can certainly cover their 10 points, but signs point to a good game.
TCU is off for the week after the romp over Minnesota, and will be preparing for SMU on the 27th. Danged, meanwhile, if Wyoming isn’t hosting Tulsa’s late nemesis, Florida Atlantic, on Saturday. The Cowboys give 4, which is fascinating after FAU’s performance in Boca Raton last week. (The teams played once before; Owls won.) But, hey, knock ‘em dead, Pokes.
#1 Florida State has the marquee slot Saturday evening hosting #22 Clemson. The FSU give of 16 looks parsimonious from where we sit. Might almost think ‘Nole bettors were those skinflint Buckeye fans.
#2 Oregon heads to Washington State to cover a 24-point give. #3 Alabama hosts Florida, giving 15. SMU courts punishment hosting #6 Texas A&M on what looks to be a warm, muggy Saturday afternoon in Dallas.
Baylor, climbing to #7, has Saturday off. Reminding us why the BCS was too stupid to keep around, Notre Dame has surged to #9 on the strength of not all that much. Think about it: there really are only eight teams in the FBS better than Notre Dame? Give me a break. At any rate, the Irish have the weekend off.
Ole Miss breaks the Top 10 this week, clocking in at #10. Rebels – you guessed it – have the weekend off.
Best of the rest
Pickings are a bit thin this week, as teams continue to play out of conference. But alert ESPN3 viewers will be treated to the Rio Grande Rivalry on Saturday evening, in which New Mexico and New Mexico State battle for the Maloof Trophy. UNM’s giving 4 for this one, presumably on the strength of last year’s 66-17 win. The trophy itself is kind of a dud, in terms of its interest as bric-a-brac, but we’re gratified to report that it’s sponsored by the Route 66 Casino Hotel, which has become one of the better known sites along I-40 since it opened in 2003.
Also enjoying the Saturday marquee slot are #24 Nebraska and Miami (Da U). The line shows an 8-point give by the Huskers.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, will host Miami (OH) for their annual rivalry bout. One of them totes off the Victory Bell, and it will probably be Cincinnati, with the Bearcats’ 28-point advantage.
Several firsts erupt this weekend, with the FBS’s newer accessions playing older stalwarts they’ve never been on the field with before. Georgia State will be at Washington on Saturday, Texas State heads for Illinois, and Rice will host Old Dominion. Not all the firsts involve the newest FBSers, however. Boise State will host Louisiana-Lafayette for their first meeting late Saturday night.
In FCS action, McNeese State remains #6 in both polls after shwacking Prairie View A&M last week. The Cowboys are off on Saturday.
In Division III, Rose-Hulman is 2-0 and leading the pack going into the opening weekend of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. The Engineers will be at Hanover (IN) College (0-2) for a 2:30 PM kickoff on Saturday. 80s and overcast should make for nice game conditions.
Christopher Newport is defying expectations by playing – for the first time in the history of the Captains’ football program – on Thursday night. CNU will meet USA South opponent Carolina Wesleyan in just about half an hour in Rocky Mount, NC. The Captains have struggled this season, coming in 0-2; the Battling Bishops are 1-1, having lost to Stevenson University (MD). Clouding up and 70s for kickoff.
Merchant Marine (1-1 after the loss to Coast Guard) holds its home opener in Kings Point on Saturday with visiting Maritime (NY), which has one of those excellent Div III school athletic names: the Privateers. The Privateers come in 1-1, having defeated Massachusetts Maritime last week, but lost in Div III Week 1 to William Paterson. Maritime (NY) plays football in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference, which is not to be confused with the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference where USMMA makes its football home. Lows 70s with a chance of rain at game time.