Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 4

Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 4
Oklahoma State WR #17 Dillon Stoner shakes off the last Pitt defender to take it in for 6 on a 54-yarder from Mason Rudolph. (Image: Screen grab of ESPN/ACCN video, YouTube)

We are sorry to predict that they won’t be playing football in Puerto Rico for a while.  Although it probably won’t take the six months they’re talking about to restore full power to the island, it looks like they’ll be lucky to have all the schools open again by Thanksgiving.

That was the benchmark after Hurricane Andrew, back in 1992: you knew the threshold had been crossed back to normal conditions, when the schools were open again.  For Puerto Rico, this school year may be a permanent partial loss.

The Rams are at Niners this evening, playing in the Tiny Stadium (Levi’s) in Santa Clara.  Tiny is probably about right for the Rams’ and Niners’ crowd sizes this season.  (Update: the Tiny Stadium doesn’t look quite as empty as the Coliseum did on Sunday, but it has a lot of vacant seats this evening.)  I’m not giving up on the NFL.  It’s personal now: the left isn’t going to kill football by driving through my brain.

Inner circle

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The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is 1-2 after the last-minute loss to Toledo in a hard-fought shootout.  Congrats again to the Rockets for an exciting game, if a heartbreaker for ‘Cane fans.  Tulsa hosts Mountain West’s New Mexico, also 1-2, at 12:30 on Saturday.  The Lobos don’t have much of an offense, but their D isn’t completely worthless.  Golden H gives 11.  Bring popcorn for the Balanchine-choreographed Tulsa-D tackling sequences.

#3 Oklahoma has a dangerous outing coming up at Baylor on Saturday.  Baylor, 0-3, has been certifiable so far, actually losing to FCS’ Liberty, as well as to UTSA and Duke.  You basically don’t even want to look, at this point.

This is just the kind of game the Sooners have had a reputation of losing in ridiculous and painful ways.  And of course this naturally has to be the week QB Baker Mayfield brings up the Katy Perry Jinx again.  Overcome, Sooners.  Don’t get cocky with that oddsquad spread of 27.5.

Oklahoma State, vaulting to #6, is now the sportsbabbler flavor of the week, and has a big meet coming up in Stillwater with new #16 TCU.  Yes, it’s another epic faceoff for our Inner Circle – and with major implications for the Big 12 too.

TCU has been outperforming expectations so far this season, and the Frogs’ Patterson/Glasgow defense has turned in the best numbers in the Big 12, holding even Arkansas to a brutal 267 total yards.  OK-State will administer a blow to those figures, but will have to do some adjusting of its own, especially on the ground.  Pokes give 13, but TCU can cover.

Navy is back in action hosting American opponent Cincinnati on Saturday.  The Bearcats come in 2-1, after an epic, 18-point come-from-behind fourth quarter victory – 21-17 – in the rivalry game with Miami (OH).  They didn’t look like total chumps in the loss to Michigan either.  Navy may give 11.5, but this one’s no gimme, especially not for a one-trick triple-option goat – however well-groomed – with a pick-prone QB.

Army heads to Tulane for one of those bright-and-early 11 AM kickoffs in New Orleans.  Army’s already beat Buffalo, and made Ohio State do a little work to prevail last week.  Tulane, at 1-2, has fallen to Navy and Oklahoma, and isn’t a sure thing with its 2.5-point give.

Air Force has a big one Saturday afternoon hosting #22 San Diego State, perennial powerhouse in the Mountain West-West.  The Falcons have serious competition in the Mountain Division – Boise State, Colorado State, Wyoming – but the Aztecs are pretty much running solo in the West Division, and currently the only ranked member of the conference.  The oddsdudes aren’t that impressed with SDSU’s squeaker over Stanford last week; Aztecs give 3.

New #13 Virginia Tech, after finally deciding to play some football last week, has bobbed up three slots in the rankings and resumes hosting duties on Saturday with a 3-0 record.  Opponent Old Dominion, of the C-USA New Blood, comes in 2-1 off the loss to North Carolina.

The Hokies should have no trouble covering the 27.5-point spread, but they may thrill and delight us with another alarming 17-7 deficit in the first half.  I beg you, Hokies, please stop shooting yourselves in the foot with the penalties.  It wasn’t funny under Beamer, and it’s double-plus unfunny under Fuente.  (VT did manage to have a whole game without turning over the ball, so, you know, kudos.)

Nevada trips off to #18 Washington State to continue its praiseworthy rebuilding effort.  We’ll never give up on our 0-3 Wolf Pack.  We’re not so sure about WSU being ranked, but this game probably won’t illuminate that one way or the other.  Cougars give 28.

LSU made like a Russian air-launched rocket last week, with a spontaneous descent to #25 after the thorough drubbing by Mississippi State.  (As far as we can tell, no civilian vehicles were harmed in the process.)  We’re guessing Coach O will field a sadder and a wiser team to host Syracuse on Saturday.  The Orange managed to lose to FCS’ Montana State two weeks ago, although they did roll over Central Michigan last week.  On reflection, we wouldn’t take the 21 points LSU is giving, but we do count on a win for the Tigers.

Kansas State has dropped out of the Top 25 after the narrow loss to Vandy, which gives us mild heartburn considering some of the pogue teams that are still ranked.  But hey, that’s what we have this extended CFP audition for.  KSU has the week off and will meet Baylor on the 30th.

Toledo comes right back off the shootout with Tulsa for a major bout with #14 Miami (Da U) on Saturday afternoon.  Yes, yes: get the Hurricane(s) jokes out of your system.

We are gratified to assure you that the game will be held as scheduled in Hard Rock Stadium, which as heavenly signs go is right up there with the schools reopening, post-hurricane-wise.  No team better to make this statement, of course, than the Hurricanes.

The Miami ranking is deceptive given that they’ve missed two games at this point.  They clobbered Bethune-Cookman in week 1, but, well.  Yeah.  The 3-0 Rockets have beat Elon, Nevada, and Tulsa.  Miami gives 13.5, but with Logan Woodside firing rockets of his own, this one could get interesting.

Wyoming hosts Hawaii Saturday night for one of our all-time favorite Storied Rivalries, the battle for the Paniolo Trophy.  It never gets old revisiting the backstory on this rivalry, which was interrupted in 1997; whereupon Hawaii, the custodian of the trophy, promptly lost it.  Just mislaid it somewhere.  (And no, Russian attack helicopters were not involved.)

Hawaii cowboyed up – nudge, wink (“paniolo” means “cowboy”) – and had a new trophy made.  Wyoming graciously consented to resume the rivalry in 2013, and the new trophy made its debut.  It could not be more beloved now if it were an iron skillet or an oil can.  The match kicks off in Laramie at 8:15 PM, with the Pokes giving 6.

The new Paniolo Trophy. (University of Wyoming)

Top 10

#1 Alabama heads to Vanderbilt, giving 18.5.

#2 Clemson gives 34 hosting Boston College.

New #4 Penn State gives 13 at Iowa, in the marquee matchup on Saturday evening.

New #5 USC gives 17 at Cal, a spread the cognoscenti recognize as a nod to Cal’s unexpected victories over UNC and Ole Miss (in spite of the Golden Bears’ near-total lack of an “offense”).

#7 Washington heads to Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) to donate 11.

#8 Michigan gives 10 at Purdue, and really needs to start, you know, scoring some points, if Harbaugh wants to give PSU some competition.

Wisconsin, now #9, has the week off.  New #10 Ohio State hosts the lice-ridden UNLV Rebels for an anticipated 40-point romp.

Best of the rest

We’re happy to report that #21 South Florida is hosting Temple in Tampa’s Ray-J this evening.  Just more evidence that football, and Florida, are coming back from Irma’s double uppercut.

#17 Mississippi State at #11 Georgia should be some good football on Saturday.

If you’re into weird matchups, Virginia is at Boise State Friday evening.  They did play once before, in 2015 (Broncos won 56-14).

Texas A&M meets Arkansas Saturday for the Southwest Classic Trophy, which we note mainly because it’s a Storied Rivalry.  The game will be in AT&T (Jerry’s Folly) in Arlington.  The Hogs give 2.5, which says a whole lot, with a conciseness words can’t aspire to, about two once-great teams currently hanging by rusted clothespins on the wash line.

Duke is at North Carolina to play for yet another of those banal Victory Bells.  Blue Devils are giving 2.

UL-Lafayette hosts UL-Monroe for the Battle on the Bayou, a rivalry game in which the atmosphere and the food surpass the football.  U-LA-LA gives 6; the winner totes home a Wooden Boot (get it?  Louisiana, shaped like a boot?), which apparently is so thoroughly overshadowed by the gaudier Golden Boot festooning the LSU-Arkansas rivalry that no images of the Wooden version are to be found.  Sounds like a microaggression crying out for an NEH study grant to us.

UTEP and New Mexico State play for the Silver Spade on Saturday evening, a rivalry that goes back to 1914.  They also have a Mayors’ Cup that changes hands, which they refer to as the “Brass Spittoon.”  But everyone knows Michigan State and Indiana trade the Brass Spittoon, so we’re focusing on the silver-plated mining implement – which could also double in a pinch as a handy tool for Aggies on agricultural business.

In our Totally Out There, what-were-they-thinking matchup of the week, tiny Wagner College of Staten Island (FCS, Northeast) heads to Kalamazoo Saturday to take on Western Michigan, the 2016 MAC champion.  Wagner, 1-2, lost 17-14 to Columbia last week, if you need to get your bearings.

But the Wagner Seahawks’ notable alumni include Jedediah Bila (late of The View), Bob Beckel (in and out of Fox News), and actor Robert Loggia.

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State has gotten to a respectable 2-1 as the Southland Conference phase of the season intensifies.  The Pokes host Houston Baptist Saturday evening, in a game that will be broadcast on Fox College Sports in some markets.  So that’s exciting.  Houston Baptist is 1-2 and not very good.  Once again, muggy and 80-ish for the 6 PM game start in Lake Charles.

In Div II, Slippery Rock meets PSAC foe Gannon U. on the road in Erie.  Gannon comes in 1-2, while Slippery Rock at 3-0 has climbed to #21 in the Div II rankings.  (Note: PSAC rivals California (PA) and Indiana (PA), #5 and #6 respectively, are coming up in the next month for SRU.  We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves as regards potential PSAC honors, even if the Div II playoffs are looking tantalizing.)  Mild, sunny, 80-ish for the noon kickoff on Saturday.

In Div III, Rose-Hulman hosts Defiance (OH), which is 0-3 and atrocious.  At the moment, 2-1 Rose-Hulman is atop the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.  Another hot one, 90 and sunny for the 1:30 game start.

Christopher Newport, now 2-1, heads to Montclair State (NJ) for an NJAC contest on Saturday afternoon.  Montclair State is 1-1, and middling as NJAC teams go.  CNU has a good shot.  A nice, sunny 85 for the 1 PM kickoff.

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is 1-1 heading to Maine Maritime for a conference match.  Everybody’s a Mariner in these meets, so we’ll have to stick with USMMA and MMA to distinguish them.  MMA is 0-2, although it’s easy to overestimate what that means.  If they have any distinguished alumni, they’re keeping it on the down-low.  But they do have the Private Benjamin recruiting vibe going, with all the ostentatious “yachts and culture on the waterfront.”  The USMMA Mariners may not all make the team bus for the trip home the way they’re supposed to.

70s and overcast for the noon game start in Castine, Maine.

Not an Army recruiting poster — it’s Maine Maritime in Castine, ME. (Image: Maine Maritime Academy via Google maps)
A cultural interlude at Maine Maritime Academy. (Image: Google map,


Pittsburgh leads us out again, hitting Chicago for the early slot on Sunday with a give of 7.

Denver will be at Buffalo, same slot, giving a skimpy 3.

New Orleans heads to Carolina for an early-slot match as well, coming in a 5-point dog on the troubling 0-2 record.

Washington hosts Oakland for Sunday Night Football, on the dog end of 3 (which would be funny if it weren’t kind of pathetic).

The game to watch on Sunday could well be Atlanta at Detroit, and how often do you get to say that?  The oddsbubbas like Atlanta in the 3-point spread.

Dallas (-3) tries to atone with a trip to Arizona on Monday night.

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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