It’s been an eventful week, and we have experienced an Unavoidable Delay in bringing you the Follies, for which we officially blame a diabolical plot by the Russian FSB. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
It’s so late in the week that Arkansas State has already beat Georgia Southern (although we, personally, are so old that as far as we’re concerned, those are Div I-AA teams and don’t bother us with your newfangled conference lineups), and #24 NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) has knocked off another teetering giant in #17 Louisville.
Memphis, meanwhile, as this was being composed, climbed aboard a starship and headed for the skies, whacking UConn in a 70-31 chainsaw massacre. Boise State, after a slow start, is just about to knock off BYU.
Yet it’s still too hot for good Christian folk, out here in our neck of the woods. Football is supposed to go with fall weather, am I right?
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, heads to Tulane on Saturday morning for an American Athletic Conference match at the thoroughly unnatural hour of 10 AM (making it 8 AM out here). This should be against the law. Both teams have pretty much sucked so far; Tulane, coming in 2-2, gives 5 to a 1-4 Tulsa that seems to have left its defense as roadkill somewhere on U.S. 64 between Tulsa and Stillwater in week 1.
#3 Oklahoma has yet another dangerous outing on Saturday, hosting Iowa State in Norman. Again, the sort of game the Sooners like to fake everyone out on and lose for no good reason. The 2-2 Cyclones have lost to both of the real teams they’ve played so far (Iowa and Texas), and come to Norman a 16-point dog. Focus, Sooners. Focus.
#15 Oklahoma State is off this week.
Navy hosts Air Force Saturday for the first leg of the Commander’s Cup, giving 7.5 in what promises to be an interesting match. Neither team has what we might call offensive variety, but Navy probably does have the edge on defense, having found a way to shut down some frisky airborne offenses so far this season.
Army heads to Rice, and darned if they’re not giving 12 to the Owls. Get on with your bad selves, Knight dudes.
New #16 Virginia Tech didn’t lose a whole lot position-wise in the decisive but relatively respectable loss to Clemson. The Hokies head to Boston College where they’ll be giving a healthy 16.5; justified, considering their overall level of play, although on defense we’d still like to see more of a policy of actually covering the deep receivers, as opposed to observing their activities and just taking notes.
Nevada continues to seek win number 1 after last week’s loss to Fresno State. The Wolf Pack will host Hawaii (2-3) on Saturday night, and we’re excited to report that it looks like we’ll get the game here on CBSSN. Hawaii gives 3.5.
It would be just like 3-2 LSU to win at #21 Florida on Saturday afternoon, just as it would be just like this year’s 3-1 Gators to up and lose. That said, we’re not sure LSU has plumbed the full depths of offensive haplessness yet. The oddsdudes clearly have similar feelings about this match, awarding Florida a very tepid 1-point advantage.
Kansas State swings back into action on Saturday at Texas, a biggish game in what promises to be a series of them for the Big 12 this fall. Texas is 2-2 to KSU’s 3-1, but both are 1-0 conference and in contention right behind OU and TCU. Indeed, K-State’s next two opponents are TCU and Oklahoma, turning October into what could be the Wildcats’ make-or-break month. For Texas, meanwhile, with Oklahoma and OK-State coming up, this is the start of a three-game stretch that will determine whether the Longhorns can stay in contention. Texas is favored by 6.5, but we think that spread is optimistic for the ‘Horns.
New #8 TCU hosts #23 West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, on Saturday afternoon, for another biggish bout. WVU, 3-1, is a 13-point underdog, and none of the sportsbabblers give them much of a chance. That feels right from here, with the Mountaineers’ standout receiver David Sills facing the Gary Patterson D in their own house.
Toledo doesn’t get up quite early enough to beat Tulsa and Tulane to the gridiron, but otherwise is one of our early birds on Saturday, hosting Eastern Michigan for a MAC match. The Eagles come in 2-2 with some unillustrious losses; we think the 14-point give by Toledo might even be a bit pessimistic.
Wyoming, having crushed Texas State 45-10, is taking a well-deserved week off.
#1 Alabama heads to Texas A&M, giving 26.5. #2 Clemson (-21.5) hosts Wake Forest.
#4 Penn State gives 14 at Northwestern.
New #5 Georgia heads to Vanderbilt, giving 17.
#6 Washington hosts Cal, with a 28.5-point give.
Michigan edges up to #7, still waiting for that breakout galloping score-fest it needs to get off top dead center. Blue is unlikely to get it hosting Michigan State this weekend for their Storied Rivalry, in the Saturday evening marquee slot. We do, however, always get an aesthetic thrill from viewing the colorful Paul Bunyan trophy, a noble trinket that reminds us of a factory-second Hummel figurine. Wolverines give 10.
New (again) #9 Wisconsin is off to Nebraska to contend for the Freedom Trophy. The rivalry between these two teams may be more off again than on, with only 11 previous meetings in 116 years, but it does come with a relatively dignified trophy depicting a football stadium and an American flag. Badgers give 11, and seem likely to cover.
We have a new #10 in Ohio State, which is back with its head above water and gives 30.5 hosting Maryland.
Best of the rest
Florida State hosts #13 Miami (Da U) for their Storied Rivalry – a big ACC game that ought to have some fireworks, although FSU has suffered some setbacks this fall. The oddsquad likes Miami by 3, which would be the conventional call. But we’re wary on this one.
Notre Dame (-14) at North Carolina will probably be kind of a hoot, if you can get past the fact that Notre Dame is playing in it. The 14 points look excessive from here.
SMU will be at Houston for their rivalry game, which you’d think would have more lopsided odds going in. But Houston is giving only 7. Clearly, Cougar fans have other things on their minds.
Fresno State is at San Jose State for the Valley Cup – and with the Bulldogs giving 17, you can kind of judge whether you want to invest time in this one or not. (It’s available via ESPN3.)
The Random Whosus of the Week award goes to Charleston Southern at Indiana, which for overall Randomness points may be hard to top in 2017. Charleston Southern is a perfectly legitimate FCS team in the Big South, and even played Mississippi State in week 1 (losing 49-0). But the 2-2 Buccaneers’ two wins so far have been over Point University (an NAIA team) of West Point, GA, and Mississippi Valley State (FCS, Southwestern), of Itta Bena, MS (one of the few places that we, personally, have never been), which rejoices in an 0-4 record and has scored, to date, a grand total of 23 points in 2017.
In an interesting coincidence, Representative Katie Hall of the 1st District of Indiana (in office 1982-85) attended Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena. At the Wikipedia entry for Itta Bena, someone has thoughtfully loaded an image of a World War I parade float, which kind of makes our week here at your LU Football Commentary Service. Who says football isn’t steeped in culture and history?
The Charleston Southern-Indiana game will be on BTN starting at 11:30 AM Saturday.
In FCS, McNeese State is up to #22 in the Coaches’ poll after thumping Stephen F. Austin. The Cowboys head to Abilene Christian (2-3), which lost to Stephen F. Austin two weeks ago. The 7 PM kickoff should see temps around 70 with clear skies.
In Div II, we are thrilled to report that Slippery Rock knocked off powerhouse rival California (PA) in an OT showdown last week, 47-44. SRU has jumped up to #12 in the rankings, with Cal. (PA) dropping to #16. The Rock will be in Erie taking on PSAC opponent Mercyhurst on Saturday. Mercyhurst is no slouch, coming in with a 3-2 record and having won all its PSAC games. It does look like rain, and temps in the 80s, for the noon game start.
In Div III, this is Rose-Hulman’s traditional big weekend, hosting long-time rival Mount St. Joseph (Cincinnati) for their annual showdown. RHIT, at 4-1, is atop the HCAC at the moment, but MSJ is close on their heels at 3-2. Terre Haute should be warm (mid-80s) and windy at 2 PM, with rain blowing in later in the day.
Christopher Newport has surged to 4-1 after a rousing 30-0 win over Rowan U. The Captains travel to Salisbury (MD) on Saturday to take on the 3-1 Seagulls. Mid-80s and cloudy for the 1 PM kickoff.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is 2-2 after apparently slipping a gear, and dropping one rather badly to MIT 35-7. The Mariners head to Northfield, VT to play conference foe Norwich U. on Saturday. Norwich’s alumni roster is overstuffed with distinguished military brass, including Admiral George Dewey, famed commander at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish-American War. But really, a lot of schools are lousy with such graduates; Norwich’s real distinction is arguably its best-known alumnus by far: Bill W.
The Cadets are 0-5. Right around 70 with lowering clouds for the 1:30 kickoff.