Difficult as it is to wrench ourselves away from geopolitics and the race wars, we must take a moment to commemorate the kickoff of the 2015 NCAA football season.
We’re already in arrears, of course, as there was major action last night (Thursday, 3 September), and it’s already underway this evening (Friday). We’ll be mentioning some of it in our Inner Circle coverage, but just to start out with, maybe not all y’all got to see the UTSA Roadrunners hang 32 points on “#22” Arizona. The Wildcats’ Scooby Wright is a super-duper LB, but losing one guy shouldn’t cut the legs out from under the defense. Arizona’s got some work to do.
Follow along, here, new recruits. We go through our Inner Circle first each week (FBS-wise, at any rate), and pride of place rests with Your Correspondent’s alma mater, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010 (and is still the smallest-enrollment school in the FBS).
Tulsa hosts Florida Atlantic, of The Remnant in Conference USA, on Saturday afternoon in Chapman Stadium. The Golden Hurricane, playing for the second year in the American Athletic Conference, is getting a kinder, gentler start this season than in the last few, although they’ll be playing Oklahoma in Norman on the 15th. That said, there’s enthusiastic anticipation about what new head coach Philip Montgomery (former OC for offense-hot Baylor) has done with the team so far.
Tulsa’s own Breck Girl Dane Evans will be back under center, with Keyarris Garrett and Keevan Lucas to throw to, and the fine stable of RBs from last year (including Tavarreon Dickerson and senior Zack Langer).
The defense is the big question mark. Two of last year’s front four are back, which isn’t always a good thing. The Tulsa D sucked ostrich eggs in 2014. Linebacker Trent Martin was a tackling standout and comes back this season. The secondary is young and pretty untested.
The line has Tulsa giving 5 at this point. We’ll see.
Moving on to Oklahoma, the #19 Sooners host the Akron Zips Saturday evening. (For the pre-CFB rankings, we use AP Top 25 here, just because we do.) The global Communist conspiracy has this game being telecast only on PPV, as if plenty of people wouldn’t want to watch anxiously as the Sooners beat the Zips, while also shaking out the jitters with Last-Second-Quarterback Baker Mayfield (former bench-warmer at Texas Tech, and don’t think we’re not hollering YEE-HA over that one), picked mere days ago to helm the offense after another agonizing summer of Quarterback Roulette.
Sooners give 31, but we’re betting they’ll also give an INTX or two, if Akron has any corners taller than 5’11” or so.
We’re relieved to report that the Oklahoma State Cowboys topped Central Michigan last night, 24-13. The Chippewas were up 13-10 at the half, but the Cowboys, who still look younger and more inconsistent than they ought to, came back to dominate the second half and avoid an ignominious loss to a mid-pack MAC team. (Classic Gundy-Ball, in other words.)
Navy will be playing in the American this year, but starts the season off hosting Colgate (FCS, Patriot League) on Saturday at noon Eastern. There’s a good chance Colgate will actually score, but of course there’s no line.
Army takes its own flyer with the Patriot League this evening, hosting Fordham. At last check, they were struggling, in a spirited game, tied 29-all in the 3Q. Air Force hosts Morgan State (FCS, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), and should have a nice scoring-fest.
Our beloved Virginia Tech Hokies will be rounding out the Labor Day weekend, taking on #1 Ohio State in Blacksburg on Monday evening at 8 PM. For a game preview, we can’t do better than send you to the Analytical Prognostication of our long-time compadre in sports-fandom, The Mighty Fahvaag, who writes for the Gobbler Country blog this season. Unsurprisingly, he concludes that if the Hokie D can work its voodoo, VT has a shot. Oh, and also step up the running game. (Although why should Beamer cease under-emphasizing offense at this late date?)
Oddsdudes have the Buckeyes giving 14. Can’t see Urban letting the Hokies swipe another one off him.
Nevada, we are pleased to note, thoroughly dominated UC Davis (FCS, Big Sky), at least in the first half of a 31-17 win in the season opener at home last night. So, OK, it’s UC Davis, but the Wolf Pack still looked good, running it up 21-0 in very quick order. Not saying Nevada will prance off with next week’s match against Arizona, by any means…but see Arizona’s inglorious defensive turn with the Roadrunners, contemplate the performance of Nevada RB Don Jackson, and put those thinking caps on. The Wolf Pack, always a glutton for punishment, plays Texas A&M the week after Arizona.
Moving on to our men in purple, #2 TCU looked OK but less than fabulous in a 23-17 win over Minnesota on Thursday. QB Boykin wasn’t precisely a one-man band (and he had his ragged moments too), but there was a noticeable lack of spectacularity from, basically, the rest of the team. Loads of talent, not all there last night. #3 Alabama, for one, is likely to move up this weekend.
There’s some sort of Louisiana syzygy lining up for our reader-correspondent CitizenKH, major fan of both #14 LSU and the McNeese State Cowboys (FCS, Southland), who will be playing each other in Death Valley Saturday evening. We assume CK has to root for the Tigers; they’ll need every win they can get to keep their heads above water in the SEC West this fall. Any scoring the Cowboys can do will redound to their credit in the FCS polling, although they lost some partisans with their late-season implosion in 2014.
Rounding out the purple squad, Kansas State hosts South Dakota (FCS, Missouri Valley Football Conference) Saturday afternoon in Manhattan. USD went 2-10 in 2014; a rout is naturally expected in this early-season creampuff-squish.
Our Wyoming Cowboys start the season off on Saturday hosting North Dakota (FCS, Big Sky). Wyoming seems to keep being youthful no matter how old everybody gets (maybe it’s the air up in Laramie), but they’ve got the edge on UND (5-7 in 2014), even if the score is likely to be closer than in some of our other creampuff mismatches.
In this section, we look at the Top 10 and any other games of special interest, which we select on an entirely arbitrary basis. Feel free to point out your own games of interest. We’ll follow anybody, as long as they’re playing football.
#1 and #2 are covered already. #3 Alabama has the marquee slot Saturday evening hosting #20 Wisconsin. The Badgers do have a shot, although the oddsquad reflects reality with a 13.5-point ‘Bama give.
#4 Baylor is having a bit more trouble with SMU than might have been predicted (35-21 Baylor as I type this update). Trouncing SMU wouldn’t do the Bears much good, rankings-wise, but a lackluster performance will be remembered. #5 Michigan State, as expected, is dealing pretty handily with Western Michigan. If Baylor and TCU both look ragged, the Spartans could even jump a spot.
#6 Auburn has a “Meh” situation with Louisville, and donates 10. #7 Oregon should make short work of Eastern Washington – and has a lot riding on the game with Michigan State next week, since the Duck schedule is otherwise non-loaded, shall we say, in the first half of the season. (Although Utah comes up in late September, and showed some interesting promise knocking off the newly Harbaugh-ed Michigan last night.)
#8 USC may actually belong around that number this season, but hosting Arkansas State on Saturday won’t establish that. #9 Georgia hosts Louisiana-Monroe, and #10 Florida State hosts Texas State; no surprises expected for either overdog.
In other games of interest, there’s not much cooking this week, largely because we’re still in creampuff-sacrifice season, and it’s unsporting to make fun of the underdogs. We do note that Texas is heading to #11 Notre Dame on Saturday, with the Arsh giving 9. Could be some interest there. Other than that, it’s a lot of FCS teams with funny nicknames heading for FBS stadiums to take ritual beatings.
We’ve already mentioned McNeese State, whose shenanigans we follow in the FCS.
In Div III, we keep track of a few choice schools. First up is Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN), which plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Fightin’ Engineers host Kalamazoo College on Saturday, in an opening game we hope will be a repeat of last year’s. Kalamazoo plays in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and not very well, having won only two games in 2014. The Hornets dropped Week 1 to Rose-Hulman last year, 40-13. There’s every possibility the Engineers can bag their first win tomorrow. Icky weather – 90s and overcast – for the game.
Christopher Newport University of Newport News, VA is next up. The Captains, last year’s USA South champs, have joined the New Jersey Athletic Conference this year, and will be playing a whole new slate of teams. CNU hosts The College of New Jersey (Ewing) in Pomoco Stadium in New-News on Saturday night. The Lions went 2-8 last year; the Captains should be well positioned to make their mark tomorrow in the new conference. Thunderstorms and 70s for the 7 PM kickoff.
We also follow the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, because who doesn’t? The Mariners won’t be playing this weekend, but they dive into the season head-first on the 12th, hosting major rival Coast Guard in Kings Point (NY). USMMA plays football in the Liberty League, and the Mariners pretty much suck.
We have a welcoming, nurturing attitude toward all football, and will give the pros their due when they start playing for real. LU Nation favorites include the Cowboys, the Steelers, the Broncos, the Redskins, and the Saints. Meanwhile, talk amongst yourselves about the Deflategate and Tebowmania soap operas.
High school football is also welcome at any time.