The week has already started with a bang, and we’re not just talking about that dubious CFP ranking. As we get down to the wire, the weeks will be starting ever sooner for us, MAC-wise.
Inner Circle stalwart Toledo knocked off MAC rival Northern Illinois in a frisky match Thursday night, bringing the Rockets to a most satisfying 8-1.
But Miami (OH) and Ohio sneaked a Storied Rivalry in on us on Tuesday, holding their annual Battle of the Bricks, the only rivalry we’re aware of that involves building materials. They’re serious about the architectural vibe with this rivalry: the trophy features a pair of columns sandwiched between two red bricks, which we couldn’t love more if it were rustic Tudor-Cotswold wood trim. (The columns remind us rather too much of Jetson-style salt-and-pepper shakers – they couldn’t spring for some tasteful Doric miniatures? – but clearly, their hearts were in it; so, you know, points.)
Ohio, the MAC East leader, prevailed 45-28.
Central and Western Michigan fought it out for the Victory Cannon on Wednesday, which would be more exciting if it weren’t a little dinky cannon trophy. We’ll have to wait for Nevada-UNLV for the real deal. The game was actually fun (unless you were for Western Michigan), involving an epic late-quarters comeback for the Chippewas to win 35-28.
And, of course, Navy came up short in a noble comeback attempt at Temple on Thursday, going down 34-26 and dropping to 5-3. SMU next week, and Houston on 24 November, look like their surest bets for getting to the magic 6.
Regarding the CFP ranking: no. We’ll go with it because we’re rule-of-law here at your LU Football Commentary Service, but we’re card-carrying members of the #CFPResistance at this point. In brief, we do agree that Wisconsin and Miami (Da U) can be #9 and #10. Everybody north of them is in the wrong place. Much as we love them, we’re not convinced about Oklahoma in the top 10 at all.
Public service reminder: retard your clocks one hour at 2 AM on Sunday, 5 November. (Elective activity: lament and bewail the stupidity of these clock shenanigans.)
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, hosts #23 Memphis Friday night for what we hope won’t be an egregiously painful blowout. 7-1 Memphis is dang good this year, sitting atop the American West, while Tulsa at 2-7 has had the official fork-stick for the bowl hunt. We do, however, look forward to whatever the East German judge has to say about the Tulsa D when it does its thing.
Tulsa D: Explosion! Arms and legs flying everywhere! Artistic impression of massive, colorful movement! “Ride of the Valkyries” soundtrack!
Memphis: 8 yards on another screen.
Be there. 7 PM Central, ESPN2. Tigers giving 13.5.
(UPDATE at posting time: TU hanging in there score for score with Memphis. Scattered defense with occasional tackling.)
#5 Oklahoma (7-1) heads to Stillwater to meet #11 Oklahoma State (7-1) in BEDLAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Storied Rivalry game comes early this fall, which we, personally, don’t like. The crazy Big 12 situation is that #15 Iowa State is the conference leader, having knocked off both #5 Oklahoma and #8 TCU (7-1). All four teams are 4-1 in conference play, but Iowa State, 6-2 overall, hasn’t played #11 OK-State yet. OU plays TCU next week. OU is also currently #5 in the CFP, but we put little stock in that. We’re just trying to figure out the Big 12 playoff at this point.
So it’s all a big mess, and we’ll be glued to the set on Saturday at 3 PM Central to see how much worse it can get. Big scoring seems likely, with two explosive offenses and the usual assorted Big 12 “defenses.” OK-State is giving 1.5 on their home turf.
Army will be in Colorado Springs Saturday for the Commander’s Cup match with Air Force – which at 4-4 is still seeking bowl eligibility. That may be a tough road for the Falcons, who face Wyoming, Boise State, and Utah State down the stretch. The oddsquad has Air Force giving 6, but that sounds wrong to us. Good luck to both teams.
#13 Virginia Tech heads to #10 Miami (Da U) for a major ACC clash. This one gets the marquee slot on Saturday evening, and should be some good football between well-matched teams. Both bring fine offensive talent; VT brings The D, with the 9th-ranked defense in the FBS. 7-0 Miami’s atop the ACC Coastal; 7-1 VT could fix that with a win, and a successful run the rest of the month. The Hokies give a scant 1. Popcorn alert.
Nevada, after the week off, comes in still 1-7 this week and enjoying the rebuilding project. The Wolf Pack will hit the Smurf Turf with Boise State at 5 PM Mountain on Saturday. The oddsbubbas aren’t even trying to be nice, reflecting Boys Estate with a 21-point give in the line. The game is on ESPNU, so we’ll be keeping up with the early going.
Kansas State, coming off the rivalry win over Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”), heads to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. Both teams come in 4-4; Red Raiders give 3.5 in their house, but we’re not counting out a bowl-eligible season for the Wildcats yet.
New #19 LSU strides to Tuscaloosa for a match of surpassing humongitude with #2 (seriously?) Alabama, on CBS opposite the Hokies and ‘Canes. Besides being a Storied Rivalry, this is where ‘Bama needs to break out and hop over Georgia in the CFP as nature intended. The popular question is whether Derrius Guice’s legs will hold out; if they do, we have hopes that LSU can be in it down the stretch facing Jalen Hurts and the number 1 defense in college football. Tide gives 21.5; take points at your own risk.
New #8 TCU gets to host Texas in Fort Worth, which will give the bedraggled Toads a bit of a leg up after their loss to Iowa State. 4-4 Texas actually beat the Cyclones in September, but hasn’t been able to come up with enough against USC, Oklahoma, or OK-State this season. TCU gives 6.5 in a Saturday afternoon match.
Wyoming, 5-3 after slaughtering New Mexico, hosts Colorado State Saturday evening in their Storied Rivalry match for the Bronze Boot. The Bronze Boot is worth knowing about: it’s an actual bronzed Army boot, worn by Coloradan Captain Dan J. Romero in the Vietnam War. He later became a ROTC instructor at CSU, and donated his boot to serve as the trophy in the Colorado-Wyoming “Border War.”
On the Friday before each annual game, the visiting school’s ROTC unit carries the game ball in a relay run on U.S. 287 to the state line, where the host team’s ROTC collects it (with a little ceremony like the one depicted above, at Wyoming football’s Facebook page) and takes it home. If they’re doing it today, it’s about 50, crisp and clear, and invigorating up there at 6,500 ft or so. The front comes in on Saturday. Rams, 6-3 and second in MWC Mountain, give 4.
#1 Georgia (God love ‘em) hosts South Carolina (motto: The Other USC), giving 23.5.
#3 Notre Dame (just shoot me now) gives 14 to visiting Wake Forest.
#4 (meh) Clemson is at #20 NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”), giving 8.5.
#6 Ohio State (so much ambivalence, so little time) heads to Iowa to give 18.5.
#7 Penn State (well, OK, another one we can kind of live with) is at #24 Michigan State for their Storied Rivalry, featuring one of the all-time great trophies. The Land Grant Trophy, which would fit in perfectly with the ghastly décor we used to call “Grand Rapids” style, looks like it was designed by the U.S. Department of Commerce in response to a congressional mandate.
The Nittany Lions give 9.5 on the road.
#9 Wisconsin is at Indiana giving 13.5.
Best of the rest
We love that cult icon UMass is at #16 Mississippi State, staring down a 32-point deficit like proper Minutemen. This is an excellent candidate for our Sheer Randomness award of the week, for that matter.
We’d never fail to remind you that Illinois will be at Purdue to duke it out for the Purdue Cannon (yet another itty-bitty mounted replica, but they mean well). Boilermakers give 14.
Meanwhile, is there any Rivalry quite as Storied as Minnesota at Michigan? Yes, it’s time for the Little Brown Jug to take its bow. The showy replica jug they let the players handle is blue again, after a brief, inglorious year in maroon and gold; the True Jug, the one from 1903, is under lock and key in storage at an undisclosed location. (OK, that last clause was made up. They know where it is.)
Michigan gives 15.
We keep waiting to alert you to a PAC-12 match in this space, but there never seems to be any reason to.
In FCS, McNeese State has receded to #22 with the big loss to #4 Central Arkansas. The 6-2 Cowboys will be on the comeback trail hosting Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday. The Lions, at 5-4, don’t totally suck, but McNeese should have the advantage in this one. 70s and overcast at 6 PM.
In Div II, Slippery Rock faces its final season opponent at Seton Hill in Greensburg, PA on Saturday. With the win at Clarion last week, SRU retains its #5 ranking in Super Region 1. Greensburg’s Griffins come in 0-9, and the Rock is likely to prevail and get a decent slot in the Div II tournament bracket. Right around 60 and clouding up for the noon kickoff.
The University of Central Oklahoma heads to Topeka to take on Washburn U. on Saturday at 1 PM. The Bronchos are 5-4 after downing Central Missouri; the Ichabods come in 6-3. (They’re not literary hounds there at Washburn, as far as we know. Ichabod Washburn was a local businessman and the university’s patron.)
Bob Dole is of course Washburn’s most famous alumnus. But science fiction writer Larry Niven is another distinguished notable. We regret to report that the inexcusable Fred Phelps, late of the Westboro “Baptist” “Church,” also attended Washburn.
60 and cloudy at game time.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman is hanging in there in second place in the HCAC after topping Bluffton last week. The Engineers have the week off.
Christopher Newport is 5-3 after the loss to Kean, and will host The College of New Jersey (Ewing Township) in Pomoco on Saturday. TCNJ’s Lions are 2-6; neither team is looking at a tournament berth or NJAC honors. This one’s for pride. Mid-60s with heavy cloud cover for the 1 PM kickoff.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy hosts its Senior Day Saturday against Catholic University (Washington, D.C.) – which we are astonished to report played Mississippi in the Orange Bowl in 1936. They’ve been a bit off their game since then, but come in a respectable 4-4 this weekend. 50s and getting ready to rain in Kings Point, although with a noon game start, they should be able to git ‘er done before the skies open up.