Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 3

Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 3
Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State players chase the football for an 87-yard LAT loss on 9 Sep 2017. (Image: Screen grab of CBS video, YouTube)

In your weekly hurricane report, we are pleased to announce that there doesn’t appear to be one headed for landfall in the United States this weekend.  All analyses are predicting that Hurricane Jose will curve north and remain off the Atlantic coast.  The effects ashore – rain – shouldn’t be a factor until Monday, in the vicinity of the Tidewater area of southeastern Virginia.

We’re also tickled to report that Houston and Rice will be knocking the pigskin around in TDECU Stadium on Saturday – a sure sign of incipient recovery in Texas.  (More on that Storied Rivalry below.)

The rivalry match between #17 Miami and #11 Florida State has been postponed, for obvious reasons.  But Florida, South Florida, and Florida Atlantic will by golly be hosting their respective games as scheduled.  Go Florida football!  With nuns like Sister Margaret Ann on the case, we feel sure nothing can keep the Sunshine State down for very long.

And since FLOTUS took off for the Trumps’ visit to Florida this morning wearing ballet flats, we may reasonably hope for a swift resolution of the Florida ACC’s scheduling conundrum as well.  The two teams obviously have to play each other during the regular season, for the ACC title contest to be decided properly.

Inner circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, heads to Toledo for a Saturday evening faceoff with our hot-running Rockets in the Glass Bowl.

We don’t know why this match-up hasn’t been thought of more often.  Seems like such a good idea.  Tulsa and Toledo have played only two times before, in 1962 and 1964, splitting the W-L tally.  Tulsa’s D, with its size and ADHD issues, will have a tough time corralling Woodside and his merry band of receivers.  All things being equal, similar dynamics are likely on the other side of the ball.  But we concur in our professional capacity with the oddsquad, which has Toledo giving 8.

Oklahoma has made the jump to hyperspace, clocking in at #2 after a noticeably non-narrow win over Ohio State.  Last we heard, Baker Mayfield had issued a formal apology for the flag-spiking, so the diplomatic niceties are all evened out for the moment.  (If nothing else, this little incident may inspire Ohio State to seek a revenge opportunity in Norman.)

The Sooners host Tulane on Saturday, donating 35, as nature intended.  We’re cautiously hopeful that the big spread won’t go to Sooner heads.  The man from Muleshoe has to keep them motivated.  They’ll need to wallop their opponents to stay in the nosebleed section of the Top 10 as the fall wears on.

In a grotesque turn of events, there is no national coverage of this game.

Oklahoma State has edged up to #9 with the rollicking frolic over South Alabama, and will head to Pittsburgh for a slugfest with the Panthers on Saturday.  (We understand this puts us at odds a little bit with our compadre OldAirman2000.)  Pitt has struggled in the first two games – although with Penn State at #5, the 33-14 loss there is hardly a season-ender – but a win at Pitt would be a quality check the Okie-Pokes can use.  Air Rudolph looks to be firing on all cylinders, so while we do think Pitt can cover, we figure the OK-State give of 12.5 isn’t way off the mark.

Navy has the week off.  Army, on the other hand, is heading for a head-bone haircut at new #8 Ohio State, one of two forays by the service schools into the Power-5 stratosphere this weekend.

The other is Air Force at #7 Michigan, which kicks us off bright and early Saturday morning.  If Buckeye bettors had any cojones, the OSU give would be more than 30.5.  The Wolverine give of 23.5 is probably about right; we figure Blue (as opposed to Big Blue) will cover.  There’s only so much the service schools can do when they’ll be outweighed by an average of 50 pounds on both sides of the line.

New #16 Virginia Tech heads once again to East Carolina to continue their weird back-alley rivalry.  The American’s East Carolina is simply awful this year, having lost big, deservedly, to both James Madison (FCS) and West Virginia, pride of the Big 12.

But VT has advanced in the rankings only slowly, due to some pesky issues on both sides of the ball.  Pro tip: lose the turnovers, Hokies.  The vaunted VT D has lost a half step with the graduation diaspora of the storied front-field guys.  The Hokies can cover their 23-point advantage, but we’re not making any hasty assumptions.  ECU has stunned them before.  We don’t expect a Hokie loss, but a narrower-than-necessary victory is not out of the question.

Nevada hosts Idaho State (FCS, Big Sky) on Saturday, which we hope will be a gimme for the Pack.  ISU lost big to Utah State in week 2, so we see an opening even for a still-rebuilding Nevada squad.

#12 LSU heads to Mississippi State for what will not be a gimme.  The 2-0 Bulldogs ain’t beanbag, and this will be LSU’s first big, SEC-standard test of the season.  The sloppiness factor in the romp over Chattanooga will come at a much higher price versus Mississippi State.

That said, we don’t expect to see anybody lose 87 yards on a play and end up facing 3rd and 93, as Louisiana Tech (motto: “If you say WAC again one more time we’re going to brain you”) notoriously did hosting Mississippi State last week.

LSU gives 8.

New #18 Kansas State will be at Vanderbilt Saturday for a match that the sportsbabblers think will be pretty darn exciting.  We’re not so sure that roundly thrashing Middle Tennessee and Alabama A&M qualifies Vandy for the big time, but we know Bill Snyder won’t fail to take the Commodores seriously.  We do think the Wildcats will want to bring it a little earlier in the game than has been their wont so far.  But if they do that, and their first string stays healthy, we figure they’ll more than cover their 4-point give.

TCU, now up to #20 and (cautiously speaking) on the surge, hosts one of our all-time favorite Storied Rivalry epics on Saturday: the battle with SMU for the Iron Skillet.  Playing for kitchenware is the ultimate in rivalry chic – seriously, you can’t top this one, so don’t try; even vintage Tupperware or an authentic pizza stone would just be a pathetic copycat gesture – and having horny toads on one side and ponies on the other just makes it chicer.  Sophomore humorists everywhere can salute their master and move on.

SMU, 0-2, has already lost to North Texas (motto: Well, we used to be mean and green), and isn’t likely to cover the 18-point deficit projected by the oddsdudes.

The one and only: Horned Frog life insurance plan. (Image via Big12-fans.com)

Wyoming blanked Gardner-Webb last week, but goes seriously big-time on Saturday hosting mighty Oregon.  The Ducks may kind of suck this year, at least as O-Duck teams go, but they still know how to fill a stadium.  We assume the Laramie community will take the invasion in stride.  Just remember: there’s a lot of noise.  The Oregon band alone will sound like Rommel headed your way with a Panzer division and a buttload of Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombers.

The Ducks are favored by 14.5.  Go Pokes!

Top 10

#1 Alabama hosts Colorado State on Saturday, giving 28.5.

#3 Clemson will be at #14 Louisville for a potentially interesting match in the marquee slot on Saturday evening.  The Tigers are favored by 3; we tend to think that’s conservative.

New #4 USC will be hosting Texas right about the same time over on Fox.  We don’t normally root for the Horns around here, but we do enjoy seeing USC get beat.  Not likely, of course; the Trojans are giving 15.5 for a reason.

#5 Penn State gives 37 hosting Georgia State.  #6 Washington gives 33 hosting Fresno State.

And #10 Wisconsin will be at BYU covering a spread of 16.

Best of the rest

Some juicy rivalry action this weekend, starting with one of the all-time greats: #24 Florida hosting #23 Tennessee for the sheer brio of it.  The competitiveness of this year’s game makes it a winner, with the Gators giving only 4 in the home stand.

Boston College hosts Notre Dame for the Holy War on Saturday, with the Arsh favored by 13.  Cincinnati will be at Miami (OH) playing for their Victory Bell (RedHawks give 5.5).

And of course Houston and Rice face off for the Bayou Bucket in their cross-town rivalry.  Bayou may be kind of a bad word in the Houston of September 2017, but who can not love a rivalry trophy featuring a gnarly old brass bucket purchased for $47.50 from a second-hand shop?  Normally we wouldn’t want to see the bucket mounted, which kind of takes the fun out of it.  But the guy who looks like he’s figure skating with a football helmet on is a nice touch, and you couldn’t really add that without a proper mounting.  So we’re giving it a thumbs up overall.

Houston had better be giving a good 22.5 in the line – and they are.

The Bayou Bucket, ready for its close-up. (Image: Twitter, @PRayRay)

Astonishingly, Ole Miss and California have never played before, at least not in the Div I era.  They’re playing in Berkeley Saturday night, and that game may well be worth the just-because check-in.  Rebels give 4.

Our sheer randomness award this week goes to Delaware State (FCS, Mid-East Athletic Conference) at West Virginia, pride of the Big 12.  The 0-2 DSU Hornets are at the bottom of the MEAC, but we are assured that Coach Kenny Carter is “not intimidated.”  You go.

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State takes its second out-of-conference flier on the road at Alcorn State (MS, Southwest Athletic Conference) on Saturday evening.  Both teams come in 1-1, Alcorn State having lost 17-10 in an FBS match with Florida International last week.  Another 6 PM kickoff looking at 80 and humid in Lorman, Miss.

In Div II, Slippery Rock hosts a PSAC match with Lock Haven U.  Slippery Rock’s digs are no slouch in the scenery department, but it looks like Lock Haven’s perch, right on the West Branch of the Susquehanna in north central PA, is to die from.  The Bald Eagles come in 0-2, having scored a total of 6 points so far this season, so we’re thinking the Rock can take them.  The 6 PM kickoff should be graced by low 70s and a cloud or two.

In Div III, while we weren’t looking, Rose-Hulman got edged by Millikin last week, 28-26, and starts the get-serious phase of the season at 1-1.  RHIT hosts HCAC opponent Hanover College (IN) on Saturday at 2 PM, and frankly shouldn’t have a lot of trouble with the Panthers, who are 0-2 and blow chunks.  Quite warm, near 90, and humid for the game start.

We know you’ve been anxious about the outcome between Greenville – Millikin’s hapless victim in the Week 1 game – and St. Scholastica.  (See the comments section from last week’s Follies.)  It looks like they both found an opponent better suited to their talents in Week 2.  St. Scholastica, which had lost 98-0 to St. John’s (MN) in Week 1, prevailed over Greenville 47-27 in a respectable contest on 9 September.

Christopher Newport, after topping Hampden-Sydney 20-7, hosts conference foe Frostburg State (MD) on Saturday evening.  Frostburg State is some of the class of the NJAC, hovering just under the Div III Top 25 with the second-most votes, at 43, among the unranked. Tough opponent for the Captains.  Upper 60s and dry for the 7 PM game start.

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy hosts SUNY Maritime (Bronx) on Saturday for the Mariners’ Homecoming weekend.  SUNY Maritime plays in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference, and has already racked up a 2-0 record against Maine Maritime and Mass. Maritime.  USMMA, 1-0 after the season opener, will have some work to do.

I believe we have previously established that Geraldo Rivera is a distinguished alumnus of SUNY Maritime.  But – who knew – it turns out that SUNY Maritime has another, somewhat classier alumnus in Edward Villella, one of the greatest-ever stars of the American ballet, and a Balanchine prodigy from the height of the great choreographer’s heyday.  Villella, now 80, hung up his ballet shoes in the 1970s, but has been an artistic director for ballet companies in Oklahoma and New Jersey, and founded the Miami City Ballet, where he served as director from 1985 to 2012.

Another warm one, 80 and overcast, for the 2 PM kickoff in Kings Point.

Premier danseur Edward Villella, American great and class of the SUNY Maritime alumnus pantheon. (Image: Screen grab of NEA video, YouTube)

Pros

Houston will be hitting the field shortly in Cincinnati, which we note because it’s good to see the Texans back in action.  Bengals are favored by 5.

Pittsburgh hosts Minnesota in the early slot on Sunday, a match that sees the Steelers giving 5.5, and Viking QB Sam Bradford gunning for another big day.

Also in the early slot, New Orleans plays host to New England, surely a faceoff for the ages after the Patriot meltdown last week.  NE gives 6.5.

Dallas hits Denver for a rare meet in the late-afternoon slot, giving 2.5.

Not that we’ll get the game here; Fox will be carrying Washington at LA Rams, which runs at the same time. It takes the Redskins to be 2.5-point dogs to the Rams these days.

We also note that the Dolphins will be hosted by the LA Chargers in the same Sunday time slot over on CBS, just because it’s a boost for a waterlogged Miami.  Chargers favored by 4, even if they do feel like they’re playing arena football in that unmentionable soccer stadium.

Green Bay is at Atlanta (-3) on Sunday night, and Monday night brings us Detroit at Giants (-3).

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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