Need to get this one turned in, as one of our own is front and center this evening (Thursday), hoping to redeem itself for the inexcusable meltdown in Syracuse last weekend. Redemption is always possible, but sometimes there really is no excuse. We’re just saying. (Fortunately, as this goes to post, VT seems to be playing no-excuses ball tonight.)
Boise State has burbled to #14, and hosts BYU this evening too. So if Chicago at Green Bay (6-3 Packers after a sloggy first half) isn’t your bag, there are options.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane (4-2), which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, hosts American opponent Tulane (3-3) on Saturday in Chapman Stadium. The oddsquad has Tulsa giving 10, but we’re not complacent. The Green Wave has kept their losses narrow, even to higher-tier teams, and their wins respectable. Tulsa played well against Houston last week, so we’re hopeful, but wouldn’t take points.
Oklahoma has crawled up to #16 now, and heads to Texas Tech for another patented Big 12 shootout. Man, we love these no-D Big 12 matches. So many touchdowns. Like being a kid in a candy store. Sooners give 14.
Oklahoma State is back in action, if you want to call it that, at Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) on Saturday. Ordinarily, the Okie-Poke give of 23.5 would be about right.
The new #24 Navy squad will put the physics textbooks aside after a palate-cleansing week and host American foe Memphis. Memphis, still riding on the Fuente coattails, is 5-1 and has some quality scalps on its belt. The Tigers won’t be a creampuff; indeed, the oddsdudes having them giving 1.5, at Navy. Could be a good game.
Army will be hosting North Texas first thing on Saturday, a game we would never think of missing. We’re proud to say the Black Knights give 19.5. That said, 3-3 North Texas knows from the triple option, due to Coach Seth Littrell’s passion for it. (Oklahoma boy, Sooner alum from 15 or so years ago.)
Air Force hosts Hawaii for their Storied Rivalry (as storied as a rivalry can be, I guess, when it’s between the youngest service academy and the youngest state). The Kuter Trophy is one of those Just A Trophies, a big brass bowl that looks really hard to keep clean, perched on a wooden base. But it is, as far as we know, the only FBS football trophy named after a general officer. Falcons are favored by 17.
Virginia Tech, fresh out of the top 25 after committing seppuku in Syracuse, hosts Miami (Da U) this evening, in one of those ACC battles that matter because ACC battles always matter. Talk about parity. Other than the sometime stratospheric leaps by Clemson or Florida State, parity is their middle name, over there on the seaboard. The Hokies give 6, which would be about right on paper, although both teams have alternated this season between flashes of brilliance and total meltdowns. Just win, Hokies. [They did. Whew. – J.E.]
Nevada and Wyoming meet in Reno for another epic battle of LU Nation faves on Saturday night. We think it’s been a long darn time since Wyoming came in with the winning record (4-2) and the points on offer. The 3-4 Wolf Pack has had trouble finding its happy place this fall; we’d like to see a better air game from them, for starters. The defense has some leaks to plug up on the ground. Run to the ball, guys. Etc. But it’s all good fun. Cowboys give 4.5.
LSU peeks in at #25 this week, and hosts #23 Ole Miss in their Storied Rivalry, the Magnolia Bowl. The Magnolia Bowl trophy may be Just A Trophy, but man, is it distinguished. The rivalry goes back to 1894. LSU gives 6 in the home stand, but of course, it’s a grand old SEC classic, so anything could happen.
TCU surges back to life after the week off, visiting #12 West Virginia, pride of the Big 12. The Mountaineers are giving 6, but that’s really on the strength of their home field advantage. Neither team has much of a defense to speak of, and they both bring scampery offenses, so if you like robust scoring, this one’s probably for you.
Kansas State hosts Texas, with both teams coming in 3-3 and working through, shall we say, challenges. With K-State, it’s at least not coaching challenges. The oddsbubbas have the Wildcats giving 1.5, and we don’t blame them. We’re gratified to think that the northwest concession booth will be getting a workout.
Toledo hosts Central Michigan, whom we’re just saying we don’t plan to ever forgive. The 5-2 Chippewas come off narrow but not unjustified wins over NIU and Ball State, although they do have that bizarre loss to Virginia to explain. As well as the Rockets have been playing, their 10-point give nevertheless strikes us as a tad overoptimistic. Bowling Green gave them fits last week. Buckle up for a slogger here.
#1 Alabama hosts #6 Texas A&M, for an SEC tiebreaker that clearly must be named game of the week, even if there’s not much real doubt about the outcome. We fully understand the Tide’s 19-point advantage in the odds-corner…and everything else about the potential for one of Saban’s patented ill-timed whiffburgers just seems too banal to say.
#2 Ohio State visits Penn State for their Storied Rivalry, giving 20.
New #3 Michigan hosts Illinois, giving 38.
#4 Clemson has the week off.
#5 Washington hosts Oregon State, giving 37.
#7 Louisville hosts NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”). Cardinals give 19.5.
Nebraska’s damp snout is prodding at #8 now, and presumably won’t get a sucker punch from Purdue. Certainly not at home in Lincoln. Huskers favored by 24.
#9 Baylor is off. #10 Wisconsin heads to Iowa to duke it out for the Heartland Trophy, the door prize of a Storied Rivalry that goes back to 1894. Badgers give 4.5.
Best of the rest
A bit light on the Storied Rivalry action this week, although we can boast that #22 North Carolina and Virginia will renew the South’s Oldest Rivalry in Charlottesville. Worthless as the Yahoos are, UNC is only giving 10.
#11 Houston heads to SMU for their rivalry game, giving 21. If you’ve got time on your hands, #17 Arkansas will be at #21 Auburn (-10).
And if you need entertainment on Friday night, there’s a three-game line-up, including the laugh-snoozer of the week, Oregon at Cal (-3). We feel sure there’s something going on in the PAC-12 these days, but it just isn’t registering on the FBS Richter scale, other than the Huskies operation up north. Which is information in and of itself.
In FCS, McNeese State’s star has faded after an epic 35-0 loss to Central Arkansas last week. The Cowboys are 3-4 and won’t be knocking on any tournament doors this year. But they head undaunted up to Natchitoches to take on Northwestern State on Saturday evening. The Pokes have a good shot at this one, as Northwestern State is 1-5 and winless in Southland Conference play. 70s and sunny for the 6 PM game start.
In Div II, Slippery Rock is now 5-2 after succumbing to #13 Indiana U. (PA). The Rock will host PSAC rival Edinboro U. (PA) on Saturday, a tough competitor coming in 6-1. Football is probably a relief for the players and students at both schools; we are extremely sorry to have to tell you that the faculties are on strike in the Pennsylvania state system, and off the gridiron, anxiety is therefore the order of the day. A cold front will have it around 40 with showers likely at the 2 PM kickoff.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman is 5-2 after romping all over Manchester last week. But the Engineers face their biggest test of the season at Franklin College (Franklin, IN), 5-1 and ranked #16 in Div III. The Grizzlies win Heartland Collegiate honors every year, and would be pretty hard for RHIT to knock off. A brisk 60 and sunny for the 1:30 PM game start.
We’re just proud all over Christopher Newport, now 5-1, for hanging there in to hold Montclair State and top them 28-21 in 2OT last week. The Captains head to Frostburg State (MD) for a Saturday afternoon NJAC meet with the 5-1 Bobcats. This one will be another tough test. Mid-40s and rainy at 1 PM.
Merchant Marine did it again, totally beating Rensselaer 16-13 last week and surging to 4-2 overall. The Mariners host St. Lawrence U. (Canton, NY) on Saturday, to play for the Hoffman Cup, which is about as in-circle and inexplicable to outsiders as these things get. (We’ll let you read about it here, rather than trying to explain it.)
St. Lawrence comes in 6-0 and ranked #15, so USMMA will have their work cut out for them. It seems a tad obvious to mention luminaries like Kirk Douglas, Viggo Mortensen, and Senator Susan Collins as notable St. Lawrence alums, but we feel sure you’ll appreciate knowing that Mr. Michael Botticelli, the White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, is a St. Lawrence Saint. No word on whether his husband, David Wells, is one as well. 50s and raining for the noon Eastern kickoff.
Dallas has the week off.
New Orleans kicks us off early at Kansas City (-6). Redskins take an interesting flier, also early, at Detroit (-1.5).
The epic match-up of the week for LU Nation is, of course, Pittsburgh hosting the Death Star with Brady back at its helm. New England gives 7 in that one.
For our Denver contingent, we have to wait until Monday night, when the Broncos (-8) will host Houston. The spread is interesting, considering that Denver was pasted to the wall by a usually lifeless San Diego squad in their most recent outing, and lost a heartbreaker to the Falcons before that. The Texans, for their part, have been looking less than half bad. But we say just settle in and enjoy.
Sunday night’s fare has Seattle at Arizona (-1.5)