Well, that was a very exciting game Thursday night with the big 42-point comeback by #25 Memphis over Houston. We are monumentally sorry to have been unable to alert you to it beforehand. Real Life has some unforgivable habits, and one of them is intruding on quality football time.
We promise to do better, starting now. (Speaking of which, if you’re not watching Western Kentucky at Old Dominion, you’re so missing out.)
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, will be at UConn Saturday for an American cross-division match. Tulsa (2-5) is coming off a huge win over Houston; UConn (2-4) coming off a less huge but still encouraging 28-24 win over Temple. Temple is underperforming too this year, but it’s still a quality win for the Huskies (who previously had managed to prevail only over FCS’ Holy Cross). Tulsa, giving 4, can expect a challenge.
New #9 Oklahoma has had a week to recover from the narrow win over Texas, and heads to Inner Circle opponent Kansas State on Saturday for the next Big 12 test. All the usual caveats apply: K-State is unranked, and woefully short on depth on both sides of the ball, but that never stops the Sooners from turning into a pile of cow-plop on the field for no apparent reason. The Oklahoma give of 14.5 sounds about like what you’d expect – Sooner bettors would have their team giving 3 to the New England Patriots – but K-State isn’t playing TCU this week. The Wildcat best is pretty darn good. Step lively, Sooners.
New #10 Oklahoma State will be at Texas to give the Longhorns another shot at their Alta-Texas rivals. Frankly, OK-State is the more consistent and broadly competent of the Top 10 Oklahoma teams (there seems to be an insider agreement to rank them below OU in the AP poll), and the Poke give of 7 to Texas shows a strange new oddsquad respect for the ‘Horns. This one could go the wrong way too, if Gundy misapplies the product to his coiffure.
Navy has yielded the #25 position to Memphis, but hosts #20 UCF in a big American bout on Saturday. This is another cross-division match; the top slots are tightly competitive in both East and West, and Navy and UCF are two of the competitors. UCF has a serious D under DC Erik Chinander (rare in the AAC, but a perennial program strength, minus the brief stint with Bresnahan), but is giving a mere 7.5 – again, a sign of respect for Navy and the adaptability of its option. UCF walloped Memphis 40-13 in week 5, the closest score the Golden Knights have won by. Could be a good game.
Army hosts Temple, giving 6.5 once again. The 5-2 Black Knights could lock in bowl eligibility with this one, something they haven’t done this early in the season for years.
We’ll get another exciting Inner Circle match on Friday night, when Air Force heads to Nevada for a Mountain West showdown. The Wolf Pack may be 1-6, but they proved last week with a narrow 44-42 loss that Colorado State, the leader in the Mountain division, is far from invincible. Nevada’s improving by the week; 2-4 Air Force has its work cut out for it in Reno. Falcons give 7. We’re not counting the Pack out.
New #14 Virginia Tech hosts ACC Coastal foe North Carolina on Saturday, a game the Hokies are likely to win, and really can’t afford to lose. UNC at 1-6 is sluggish this season, but is also sly, cunning, bears great watching, and has played a spoiler role for VT more than once. The Hokies could use the boost from a decisive win this weekend to face down their upcoming Coastal division gauntlet in November.
LSU, back in the rankings at #24, heads to Ole Miss for the Storied Rivalry known as the Magnolia Bowl. The misundercueing seemed to subside considerably in the very gratifying second half last week, and we’re hopeful that a voodoo curse has been broken. Ole Miss shows up 3-3 and having managed to lose to Cal as well as Alabama and Auburn (the loss to Alabama so nasty that decent people averted their eyes and even changed the channel). LSU gives 7; rivalry, Rebels’ home turf, and all that. (Tasteful trophy for the winner, BTW; but never fear, the Golden Boot game is coming up with the Hogs on 11 November.)
New #4 TCU hosts Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) on Saturday, and unless everybody on the Frog offense breaks something, TCU is likely to cover the 39-point spread. The punter could probably break something and it wouldn’t even matter.
Toledo hosts Akron on Saturday, a game that may or may not foreshadow the MAC title match this year. It feels pretty weird to have the Zips topping the East division, and although the Rockets top the West for good reason, they still have to face Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. So there’s a lot of season left to develop. The loss of WR Cody Thompson a couple of weeks ago was a tough one, but Terry Swanson has stepped up big time, and Logan Woodside is firing on all 12. The 16.5-point favorability for Toledo doesn’t look in any way excessive.
Did we mention that Wyoming, now 4-2, surged to knock off Utah State last week? Good job, Pokes. They’ve got a big one Saturday evening on the Smurf Turf with Boise State – both teams 4-2, 2-0 conference, and dogging Colorado State’s heels in the Mountain division. The Broncos are giving 14, but Wyoming can win this one. At the very least, they’re more likely than not to cover. Saddle up!
#1 Alabama hosts Arkansas, giving 36.
New #2 Penn State hosts #19 Michigan in the marquee slot Saturday night, giving a careful 9.5. We’re saying Hmm about this one.
New #3 Georgia has the week off.
Wisconsin is taking #5 for a test drive, and will probably cover a 24-point give to visiting Maryland.
New #6 Ohio State is off, preparing for a huge clash with Penn State next week.
New #7 Clemson, also off, will face Georgia Tech on the 28th.
New #8 Miami (Da U) hosts the Sudden Orange, giving 17.5. We’re not figuring on a surge of persistence from Syracuse, but we do figure they can cover that.
Best of the rest
Not a big week for Stored Rivalries, as the conferences get a lot of obligatory games out of the way; most of the teams not that well matched (or scintillating).
But we do have Fresno State at San Diego State facing off for the Oil Can, a truly noble garage-sale junk trophy of the kind we’re always on the lookout for. The backstory, as our regulars know, has to do with the glorious yesteryear in which fans making the trip between Fresno and San Diego had to worry about engine oil. (Back when you didn’t have to crawl under the hood and contort yourself into a yoga pose to get to the lubricant openings.)
Fresno State (4-2) will be more worried about SDSU, which at 6-1 is the better team, and likely to vault over the ‘Dogs to assume its rightful position atop the MWC West. Aztecs give 7.5.
And, of course, it’s necessary to mention #11 USC heading to #13 Notre Dame for their annual clash, as some people do care about it. That’s what Diversity is all about, and we’re fer it.
We call this one “That low-class dance hall downstairs,” even if we do secretly have an undying admiration for the foofiest trophy in college football, the Jeweled Shillelagh. It’s just so ghastly. At any rate, the play should be very well matched this season, making the game a healthy competitor to the Big X marquee match over on ABC. NBC at 6:30 Central. Arsh give 3.5.
Idaho will be at Mizzou, for some reason, resuming a 2-game series that last played in 1963. The really lousy Tigers give a mere 14 to the invading Vandals, in a game that serves pretty well as our Randomness specimen of the week.
In FCS, we’re happy to say, McNeese State has edged up to #19 in the bye week. The Cowboys host Homecoming against Incarnate Word (San Antonio), a Southland opponent coming in 1-5. It’s going to be a rainy one, unfortunately, with thunderstorms predicted all day and highs in the 80s. Kickoff at 6 PM.
In Div II, Slippery Rock slipped to #17 after a disappointing but credible 34-17 loss to #3 Indiana (PA). We were miffed to not get the game here on ESPN3. SRU comes right back to head to Edinboro and take on the Fighting Scots of Edinboro U. Edinboro is 4-3 and no doughy bagel; the Rock will have a challenge here. But the weather looks awesome, promising mid-70s and partly cloudy on the shores of Lake Erie for the noon game start.
The University of Central Oklahoma gallops up I-44 to take on MIAA foe Missouri Southern State in Joplin on Saturday. The Bronchos topped Nebraska-Kearney last week, 27-13, and although we aren’t up to speed on the band situation for tomorrow, we do see the MSSU record of 0-7 as pretty informative. We’re counting on the 3-4 Bronchos to bring home a win.
Meanwhile, just when you think the alumni rolls out there can hold no more interest, you find out that Dennis Weaver – yes, that Dennis Weaver, known to us old-timers as “Chester” in the early years of Gunsmoke – was an alumnus of MSSU. Weaver, born in 1924, passed away after a fight with cancer in 2006. R.I.P.
In Div III, 6-1 Rose-Hulman continues to kick tail and take names, having crunched Manchester 44-13. The Fightin’ Engineers’ biggest test of the season is always against Franklin (IN), a frequent member of the Top 25 in recent years (although south of it this season). Franklin is 4-2 and just behind RHIT in the HCAC standings. Rose-Hulman hosts in Terre Haute, with 70s and overcast skies expected for the 1:30 game start.
Christopher Newport, 4-2, is back in action Saturday hosting William Paterson (Wayne, NJ) for the Captains’ Homecoming weekend. WPU’s 0-6 record suggests the Captains will be able to give the home fans a good show in Pomoco Stadium, where they’ll kick off at 1 PM to 75 and mostly sunny skies.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, now 3-3, did succumb to #25 Springfield, as expected, although the respectable 35-13 loss wasn’t a wipeout. More conference action Saturday at Worcester Poly (Worcester, MA), home of Gompei the Goat. WPI comes in 4-2 and by no means sucking. Perfect 75 and sunny for the 2:30 PM kickoff.