Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 14 (The Reckoning)

Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 14 (The Reckoning)
UCO WR #6 Josh Crockett catches QB #7 Chas Stallard for 6, in the 27-10 victory over Washburn U, 4 Nov 2017. (Image: Screen grab of YouTube video, Marty Schmiedeler)

Tempting as it is to begin this with a meditation on portent-laden headlines, which are intended to evoke the sound of movie-sequel titles, I will instead announce off-topic that I have decided to buy T. Boone Pickens’ ranch in the Texas panhandle.

It just went on the market.  I’ll have the link to the GoFundMe page up shortly, to raise the $250 million.  This looks like a real opportunity.

Inner circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, retires from the 2017 season with a 2-10 record, after a 43-22 drubbing by Temple.  As far as we can discern, Philip Montgomery still has his job.  Tulsa usually lets one lousy season go, in the interest of retaining top talent (which for a small FBS school is a challenge).  Better luck next year, and try to get in some tackling practice between now and then, ‘Cane.  Roar, Hurricane, roar!

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#3 Oklahoma faces either the first of several tests of mettle on Saturday, or the Sooners’ second-to-last game of the cycle.  Inner Circle stalwart TCU, #11 after last week’s win, meets the Sooners in Cowboy Stadium in Arlington on Saturday at 11 AM, to decide who’s the Big Cheese in the Big 12.  When last they met, OU’s moderately effective defense was able to hold the better-than-average TCU offense to 20 points, and basically, we’re going to see if they can do that again.

We are gratified to report that the game will be aired on Fox.  So there’s little likelihood of an ESPN fanboi meltdown over Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield and the state of his maturity and leadership.  We’re preemptively assuming so, at any rate, because the alternative, after two successive weeks of it, is too painful to contemplate.

Sooners give 7.

Oklahoma State ends the season 9-3, ranked #19, and well positioned for a high-class Booger Bowl.

Navy lost ugly to Houston last week, but at 6-5 will have a bowl bid locked in.  The Mids now prepare for The Game on 9 December.

Army, 8-3 (congratulations, First Singers), is also preparing for The Game.  Air Force ends the season 5-7 – but no doubt already putting their professional target sights on next year.

Virginia Tech edges up to #22 with the rivalry win over Virginia, and now awaits its assignment to a high-class Booger Bowl.

Nevada kept the Cannon and finished the season 3-9.  But mainly kept the Cannon.  We hear the scheduling for Cher is in the works.  Semper Blue, Pack.

LSU, 9-3, also polishes off the season with a ranking (#17) that will bring a high-class Booger Bowl with it.

Kansas State could gratify us all by simply having another heart-stopping thriller with Iowa State, and we wouldn’t need another football game this year.  The Wildcats are 7-5 and sure to get one of the better class of Booger Bowls; i.e., the real Booger Bowls, the ones that have been re-homed six times and feature the off-field recreational opportunities that Japanese game-show producers only wish they had thought of.  Best of luck in the bidding to KSU, and well done.

Toledo helps Oklahoma lead us out of the gate on Saturday at 11 AM, heading to Ford Field in Detroit for the MAC championship match with Akron.  Pleased as we are to mention the Zips this many times in a season, we’re reminiscing with just the slightest unease over the 10-2 Rockets’ decisive 48-21 thumping of Akron mid-season, and concerned that something, er, unexpected may befall the game.  That said, if Logan Woodside stays healthy, even the Zips’ relatively effective passing defense probably can’t keep up with his epic arm and rapid-reaction smarts.

We understand UT is having to urge fans to get to Detroit and make noise.  Come on, Rocket base; git ‘er done!  Haven’t been in this for real for over a decade.  Toledo gives 21.

Wyoming, 7-5, may have lost a heartbreaker to San Jose State last week, but now waits with an honorable winning record for the Cowboys’ own shot at a real, genuine, better class of Booger Bowl.  If their bowl doesn’t involve sponsorship by mobile auto-services of some kind, or perhaps a staple-starch crop, we’ll feel gypped.  Lasso a good one for us, Pokes.

Best of the rest

Friday night, hundreds of fans around California will be transfixed by the PAC-12 championship in the Tiny Stadium (Levi’s) in Santa Clara, featuring #10 USC (whose fans would have you know that they normally see their games in a much bigger stadium) and #12 Stanford.  The Trojans give 4.  I believe they’re running replays of the 2013 game (in which USC knocked off #4 Stanford) back to back all day on one of the classic sports channels.

The PAC-12 championship may go off without registering on anyone’s impact scale this year, but the other Power 5 games are all so overloaded with freight that they’re due a visit from a government inspector.

Besides the Big 12 match, #6 Georgia and #2 Auburn clash for SEC honors on Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Dome in Atlanta.  Either one could still be in the CFP Final Four running.  Auburn gives 1, which we basically agree with, and even think they’ll more than cover.  “Probably.”

The marquee slot on Saturday goes to #7 Miami (Da U) and new #1 Clemson, meeting to decide the ACC title at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.  Miami winning may be the least likely upset in the Power 5 CFP-offs, but is by no means out of the question, and could raise and lower hopes around the In-the-Hunt-8 like a weird Rube Goldberg device.  Clemson gives 9.5.

But wait! – there’s more.  Also at the marquee time, but over on Fox, #8 Ohio State bids to knock off #4 Wisconsin and snag the Big 10 championship, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  The Buckeyes may be a rimshot for the Final Four, but they’ll have a better idea by then how much the competing ACC game will matter.  They’re giving 6, as befits the state of mental bracketing in the Big 10.  What we know for sure: it will be a whale of a game.

Sudden #5 Alabama gets to sit and stew all day, not yet out of contention, but its fate in others’ hands.  Such is the superior native intelligence of the CFP construct.

Just south of the nosebleed section, the American Athletic Conference will get a new champion Saturday afternoon, after #20 Memphis and #14 UCF meet at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando.  UCF is favored by 7.

For the Mountain West title, #25 Fresno State and Boise State clock in at 5:45 Mountain on the Smurf Turf in Boise, with the Broncos giving 9.5.

And we’re pleased as punch to announce that North Texas, one of our all-time favorite teams, is playing for the Conference USA title this year, heading to Boca Raton on Saturday to take on Florida Atlantic, Lane Kiffin’s latest extracurricular project team.  FAU is favored by 11.5, which is probably about right, but we salute the Mean Green for getting there.

The Sun Belt still has a bunch of teams running around playing each other, in case you get bored.  Program note on the conference: it will start holding a championship game next year.

And a couple of Florida games that had to be postponed from early in the season, due to hurricanes, will be mopped up on Saturday as well.  Cult icon UMass will be at Florida International (-1), and Louisiana Monroe will be at Florida State (-26.5), both in the early slot.

Other ranks

In FCS, the Southland Conference’s Central Arkansas, ranked #3, meets New Hampshire in round 2 on Saturday.

In Div II, PSAC’s Indiana (PA) crushed conference brother West Chester last week to advance to the quarter-finals, where it will meet Assumption on Saturday.

MIAA’s conference champ Fort Hays State lost to Ferris State in round 2, so our LU connections have bowed out on that side.  Congratulations to all, and good luck to those remaining, in their bid to reach the Div II championship on 16 December.

We note with excitement, however, that our very own Central Oklahoma Bronchos (7-4) will be at the invitational Corsicana Bowl in Corsicana, TX tomorrow (2 December), with kickoff at noon.  UCO will be playing Tarleton State (6-5), a member of the Lone Star Conference (which you will recall has UT-Permian Basin among its number).

This is the inaugural iteration of the Corsicana Bowl, and we couldn’t be prouder of the Bronchos for being a part of it.  Most of what there is to do locally seems to be up the road in Waxahachie, but don’t let that slow you down.  If you stay the weekend, you can catch the English Christmas Tea at the English Merchants Inn on Sunday.

And if you just decide to stay the week, there’s a Chocolate Stroll through downtown Waxahachie next Saturday.  We’re betting the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual should be so lucky.

In Div III, NJAC’s Frostburg State is still in the hunt, having knocked off Washington & Jefferson last week.  But the biggest test will be on Saturday versus mighty titan Mount Union.  Good luck with that.

Wesley, meanwhile, the other NJAC hopeful, succumbed in round 2 to Brockport.  Congratulations to Wesley on a fine season.

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.