We’ll have to sprint to get this one in, as the NCAA football schedule is kicking off really honking early in 2017. Some of these crazy teams are playing each other on Saturday the 26th. This seems dangerous and pointless, but it would be unimaginable to not cover them. More on that below.
Admin note: Week 1 runs from 26 August to 4 September, so we’re breaking it into digestible chunks. Light appetizers today. The main course will be next week, when our Inner Circle starts playing. We are pleased to announce that Toledo will lead us out of the gate on Thursday, 31 August, at 6 PM Central. (Bring a flyswatter, it’s Elon.) Tulsa will have one of its biggest games of the year starting a half hour later in Stillwater, taking on #10 Oklahoma State.
We can’t wait.
With the Inner Circle this week, we’ll just establish the ground rules. The first rule of Football Follies is, we use the AP poll for the rankings until the CFP kicks in.
The second rule is, we have a set order for the Inner Circle. There’s an arbitrary reason for each spot in the ordering, and only the first couple make any sense. (Tulsa is my alma mater. And as a lifelong Sooner fan, I have several times suffered clinical death at the end of a wrongly-outcomed game. You don’t fail to honor that, when you’re writing football.)
The third rule is, you love your team and are a correspondent of the Follies, you get your team into the Inner Circle. Bring ‘em on. We love folks.
We’re having a special on rules this week: the fourth, temporary one-time rule is that we’ll deal with important things like Epic Coaching Changes, Annoying Player Stupidity, and Things We’re Just Bursting To Say About Actual Football (As Opposed To Football In Politics And Culture) next week, in Part 2. (That said, feel free to burst in the comments.)
So we begin with the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010. Tulsa is my alma mater, and remains to this day the smallest-enrollment school in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (motto: Often renamed. Never satisfied). No matter how badly Tulsa has been bruised and battered by its usual Marine Corps combat course in the opening month, the Hurricane leads the parade. Reign ‘Cane!
We regret to report that the University of Oklahoma Sooners are ranked #7 at the gate. This is never a good sign, but we’re going to abide by the rules and postpone any discussion of that new guy from Muleshoe to next week. Boomer!
#10 Oklahoma State is where my baby bros got their baccalaureate degrees, and where I have nephews attending now. Plus there’s [name of colorful coach, with cosmic hyper-mullet, and more than one viral video from post-game media conferences]. As Oklahoma’s other FBS school, the Cowboys come in next in the order.
In our FBS service academy action, Navy steams in next, all ahead flank. Go NAVY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Army and Air Force clock in just behind. Yay!
In our LU Nation faves, #21 Virginia Tech rings in next. (Feeling a Hokie burst coming on here. Must move on.)
Nevada’s next off the block, and we wish them a better season this year. Bowl-bound this time. We’re proclaiming it over them, and shaking a wolf paw totem for good measure.
Then we have #13 LSU, rolling out in the Valley of Death with the hopes and dreams of Loo-zee-ana riding on them. Geaux!
Kansas State, next up, starts the season ranked #20. Well done ‘Cats. A tribute to the enduring quality of, no, we’re not going to talk coaches this week. It’s that guy the stadium is named after.
TCU rounds out our purple contingent. (For the chick-flick fans out there: “Is that grape or aubergine?”) My cousin’s son graduated with his bachelor’s degree there in May, but we’d never think of dropping the Horned Frogs just because of that successful conclusion.
We’re proud to follow Toledo, our MAC team and a very gratifying pick from the MAC pack so far. MAC football’s for real, and can be a fun break from all the Cirque du Soleil Power 5 stuff. Rockets rock!
Wyoming completes the Inner Circle, and all we can say after last year is, who knew? Give us another good ride this year, Pokes.
No one in the top 10 is playing this Saturday, so we’ll survey them next week. Honorable mentions from the top 25 (Stanford, South Florida) below.
Yes, we’ll get to the ridiculous, totally awesome shooting of the wad on the 2nd, when #3 Florida State shows up at #1 Alabama the first week of the season. Next week. You know it’s gonna be a good year.
Best of the rest
The early birds will roam free on Saturday, bringing us a pretty darn good line-up. It’s sorely tempting to mention Stanford and Rice first (you schedule rangers know why), but we just have to say that you couldn’t do much better than to kick off the season with Oregon State at Colorado State. It’s usually some lowly FBS hanger-on hosting an FCS creampuff, but no. This week we get ac-SHUNN. Nice. Saturday at noon-thirty Mountain in Fort Collins. The oddsquad has the Rams giving 4.
BYU will host Portland State (FCS, Big Sky), which was basically chopped liver last year (3-8) but will give the Cougars a nice scrimmage. (BYU heads to LSU next weekend, and that’s all we’re saying about that for the moment.)
You know it’s a good week when Hawaii is on the road to play U. Mass (one of those hangers-on we spoke about). If you missed it, these two teams actually played for the first time last season, with the Warriors prevailing 46-40. Humorously enough, it was their last game of the season, and now they’re back together for the first game in 2017. It’s too bad there’s no national broadcast coverage slated for this one; if there were, you could hear the announcers mentioning that every third sentence. The Minutemen give 2, and we love that someone wants to bet on this game.
#19 South Florida will be at San Jose State at 4:30 PM Pacific, the Bulls favored by 22. (I still give a follow to USF from time to time, having taken an interest when I was stationed in Tampa. Plus they’re in the American with Tulsa, although in the East Division.)
The green-with-envy marquee game of the week is, of course, #14 Stanford taking on Rice at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, New South Wales. We’re not that enamored of the Candy Pink, who naturally are giving 30 or so. Christian McCaffrey has gone on to Carolina, and few outside Palo Alto know too many names on this year’s roster (well, DE Solomon Thomas, if you want to talk capital-T Tackling, which we’re always up for). But Rice is an old Tulsa running-mate, and still in the C-USA Remnant, so combine that with an outing in Oz, and we wouldn’t think of missing this one.
We follow a few teams from other ranks regularly here at your LU Football Commentary Service, and we’ll follow your FCS, Div II, or Div III team too, if you speak up. This is where the magic happens.
In FCS, we love McNeese State, Southland Conference, of Lake Charles, LA. McNeese has been in the FCS top 25 the last few seasons, but after an annoying 2016 is lurking just beneath it as this season starts. The Cowboys’ first game will be 31 August at Nicholls State.
We debuted a Div II team last season with the always-photogenic Slippery Rock University, of Slippery Rock, PA. SRU plays in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, and will kick off out of conference at Kentucky State on the 2nd.
In Div III we start with long-time favorite Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT), which lives in Terre Haute and plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC). RHIT’s Fightin’ Engineers play their first game on 2 September.
Christopher Newport University’s Captains play in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). Their home base is Newport News, VA. The Captains kick off on the road next Saturday.
Our final Div III obsession is the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, playing in the Liberty League and based in Kings Point, NY. We couldn’t love the Mariners more if they were any good. We note with approval that they will play big rival Coast Guard at the end of the season, as God intended these things, instead of on some humid, miscellaneous day in September. Not everyone gets to play his first game of the year against Misericordia, but the Mariners do, on 2 September.
All football is welcome here in our totally inclusive LU Nation enclave. We definitely follow a slate of pro teams, including the Cowboys, Steelers, Redskins, Saints, Broncos, and sometimes Browns when we feel like it. If you hear mention of the Death Star, and not in a good way, you’ll know we’re talking about the Patriots. But don’t hold it against us.
Some of us will be joining the vigil around Qualcomm for the late, great Chargers. Inglewood, for Pete’s sake. And playing in a soccer stadium off the 91 in the interim. This is better?
Well. Par-TAY. Football’s back in the house.