Football Follies 2018: NCAA week 3 (Director’s cut)

Football Follies 2018: NCAA week 3 (Director’s cut)
The old Auburn gym immolates itself in the infamous 1996 LSU-Auburn "Barnburner!" AL.com video, YouTube

[UPDATE: Full post now complete.  Pardon our remodeling.  This is was a stand-in/preview/trailer for the full Follies post, which will ensue Saturday morning when we here at your LU Football Commentary Service have had some sleep.  Just to be clear, it is weak and undisciplined of us to have to do this in stages. We’ll be doing extra marches around the Quad as soon as we get our strength back. – J.E.]

Even before this goes to post, we’ve had dramatic developments in Week 3, what with games being cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, and Thursday night’s surreal visitation of scrappy Tennessee Tech (FCS, Ohio Valley) at Utah State, which ended in a 73-12 loss for the Golden Eagles.  Back in the pre-BCS days, Tennessee Tech (in Cookeville) had a good run of conference championships in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The cancelled-game tally is steady at four right now, including our own Virginia Tech and East Carolina.  West Virginia won’t be going to NC State, nor UCF to North Carolina, nor Marshall to South Carolina (motto: The Other USC).  Since these are out-of-conference games they just drop off the register.

Appalachian State and Southern Miss have been postponed, as has Liberty versus Norfolk State (an in-state game that might be rescheduled with relative ease, and is meaningful for Virginia locals and programs, even though Norfolk State is an FCS team – and Liberty isn’t likely to need a cross-ranks victory as a tiebreaker in its freshman year as an FBS Independent).

Beep. Beep. *Game of the Week Alert for our Inner Circle.*  Some of you Zouave-savvy out there know what we’re talking about.  Darned if the runner-up isn’t an Inner Circle game too.

Inner Circle

The University of Tulsa, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, entertains Arkansas State (1-1, Sunbelt) on Saturday evening.  Tulsa gives 1, but might not if the Golden H hadn’t managed to make a game of it at Texas last week. The 21-0 deficit at halftime wasn’t promising, but TU closed it up and ended down a respectable 21-14 in the final.  Yes, that means Texas sucks.  We’ll finally get to watch a Tulsa game on the tube tomorrow.

Oklahoma, edging again up to #5 (time to for someone to hold their beer, now that RB Anderson is out for the season), will be in Ames bright and early to take on Iowa State.  The Cyclones, while they haven’t been beanbag in recent years, had a woeful showing on offense in their inaugural outing against Iowa last week (13-3 loss, ISU slinking from the field with a slack sack of 188 total yards).  The Cyclone defense appeared better prepared.  OU is giving 18.5; take points at your own risk.

New #24 Oklahoma State is still horsing around out of conference (huh? huh?), but certainly not dithering, with a visit from #17 Boise State, which comes off of convincing, lopsided wins over Troy and UConn.  This will be the Cowboys’ first real test of the 2018 season.  They’re giving 2, with the home field advantage, but won’t have the opportunity to look quite as explosive against the Broncos as they did against an FCS team and South Alabama.

Navy hosts Lehigh (FCS, Patriot League) on Saturday afternoon.

Army hosts Hawaii at West Point, which seems like a smarter play than going to Honolulu, as the Mids made the mistake of doing. That said, the Rainbow Warriors have racked up three legit victories over Colorado State, Navy, and Rice, none of the games nailbiters for Hawaii. The Army give of 6.5 is likewise legit, but we’re not counting Hawaii out.  Defense, across the board, is the visitors’ overall weakness.

Air Force has the week off, after a painful 33-27 OT loss to Florida Atlantic.

As mentioned, #13 Virginia Tech’s cross-conference East Carolina game has been cancelled.  The only reason that’s too bad is that the Hokies are looking like they’d hang the annoying purple Pirates from the yardarm this year, which would be a nice change for VT fans.

Nevada, 1-1 after the loss to Vanderbilt, jumps right back on the horse with host duties for Oregon State on Saturday.  Oregon State is best known this year for losing to Ohio State 77-31, of course.  Letting FCS’s (Big Sky) Southern Utah score 25 points in a 48-25 loss didn’t go a long way to erasing that memory.  But the Beavers are still a PAC-12 team and go around smelling of money.  We’ll see how the Wolf Pack give of 3 holds up.  Another one we’ll actually get to see on the tube here, at last.

OK, OK, you knew we’d get to it.  LSU may have slumped a notch to #12 after the style-pointless cross-ranks week with Southeastern Louisiana, and they may have to get on the road to make their mark.  But this big week comes early in 2018:  LSU at #7 Auburn, for an absolutely huge SEC West match, not to mention a Storied Rivalry, called (by out-of-state tourists and sports announcers) the Tiger Bowl.

This is our Game of the Week, and you could hardly find a bigger du-uh.  It’s early in the season, but LSU needs to break it out here.  Auburn is already responsible for kicking Washington down four notches from the nosebleed section in the AP, and right now has to be the division favorite to edge out Mississippi State and Ole Miss for the not-Alabama slot.

But LSU may just have the chops to do it this year.  Last year LSU staged a come-from-behind upset over Auburn.  This year they could do that and then some.  On Saturday, LSU needs to have the Dave Aranda D firing on all 12.  Auburn is vulnerable on the O line against a pass rush that’s kicking tail this fall.  Of course, LSU has its own vulnerabilities, but since they’re mostly on offense, that’s what makes this an SEC West Classic.  Popcorn.  Veteran Tiger fans from both sides know what it means to add “Barnburner!”

Auburn gives 10.5.

More to follow…stay tuned for the scintillating reveal of our Game of the Week runner-up… Plus, the hurricane-flooding angle you never knew about…

And now for…the rest of the story…

We assume all are comfortably positioned watching our games(s) of choice. Waiting here to see if Oklahoma can score on their opening drive before checking in on Miami-Toledo.

Kansas State will be hosting UT San Antonio this afternoon, with the Wildcats a 20.5 point favorite.  We’re pretty sure Snyder & Co can put that one to bed.

#15 TCU, meanwhile, finally weighs in as our promised Game of the Week runner-up, importing #4 Ohio State to Cowpoke Field in Arlington for the marquee game Saturday night.  Should be a fun, explosive game on offense, and, no doubt – as the sportsbabblers will remind us – a Great Test of two Power 5 programs from different conferences.  Ooooooo-gly oogly-oooo.  It will be a fun comparison:  LSU-Auburn, where D reigns supreme, versus Ohio State-TCU, in which offense will have a shot at greatness.  Buckeyes give 13.5.

Toledo is hosting #21 Miami (Da U) as we speak.  Although the Hurricanes have already put up 7, Toledo got it together just now to halt a Miami drive, and is looking like their defense came to play.  If the offense can’t stay on the field longer than this, however, that’s going to put wear and tear on the Rocket defenders.  The Toledo secondary is haunting the Hurricane receiver corps, at least, and the D line is aggressive.  Good assignment football.

Wyoming hosts Wofford today (FCS, Southern), and if you said “What’s a Wofford?”, shame on you.  Wofford is one of the top teams in the FCS, and currently ranked #7 in the Coaches Poll.  Wofford is also headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a lively urban center at the junction of I-85 and I-26 that didn’t save your correspondent’s life during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and didn’t even afford gas for the tank (had to get that a little further south), but did crop up on the landscape and present all the sights, sounds, and smells of that epic hurricane season.

The media, with their chronically short memory for weather, have already moved on from 1999, when Dennis and Floyd clobbered the East Coast in rapid succession in August and September, and left a huge swath of territory, running up to at least New Jersey, catastrophically flooded out.  Millennials probably have no idea this even happened, but those of us, naming no names, who were driving through it from a senior officer school in Norfolk, Virginia to our new duty station in Tampa won’t soon forget the entertainment of trying to wend our way across southern Virginia on NOT-U.S. 58 (because 58 was under 12-15 feet of water in some places, and completely blocked off in random chunks) to catch up with I-85, because I-95, who would be stupid enough, right?  This was back before every hurricane was Officially the Fault of the President (and Democrat Bill Clinton was the president anyway, so the media weren’t going to blame him), and governors were the ones who made, you know, decisions about stuff, so as far as we knew, there was no preparation underway to get everyone through the next 20 years in the aftermath of these two monster hurricanes.  There were just some Interstate highway lane reversals on 95 and 40 to facilitate evacuation traffic, and emergency vehicles out everywhere, and the National Guard deploying, and shelters setting up as people arrived, and power going out in big swaths and not enough push-water gas.

Flooding from Hurricane Floyd, September 1999. YouTube video grabs; news footage and user uploads

Anyway, we caught up with 85 after some excellent adventures involving county roads, gravel roads, dirt paths, and multiple in-road turn-arounds at evil nameless “creeks” that in Oklahoma we would have called “rivers,” and written songs and poems about.  Got gas with actual cash because the power was out everywhere and the automated card readers weren’t working (plus, of course, neither were the ATMs), but the convenience store guy in Bugsplat, South Carolina, plying the cash drawer at his lightless counter, figured the gas would get me through to Georgia.  It probably would have, but the plan was to stop in Spartanburg, where there had to be something.

Wrong.  Oh, there was plenty of something in Spartanburg, but it was all evacuees, maxing out the motel/hotel occupancy and parking on every square inch of available space.  The parking lots of the travel stops were overflowing, but it didn’t matter because the hand-lettered “no gas” signs were everywhere.

The good news, however, was that there was no one paddling a rowboat past second-floor windows, and the sideways rain had stopped (for the time being.  It was a big hurricane season that year).  Somewhere south of Spartanburg, gas appeared again, and driving through the night got us to Tampa, where some other thing had all the decent hotels maxed out until the weekend, so we spent two nights in a roach motel where the evening hours were enlivened by brawls in the parking lot, until we could get into the Courtyard up at Dale Mabry and JFK.

Wyoming should be favored in this one, but Wofford’s pretty good. They’ll give the Pokes a run for their money.  If Wofford had occurred to us during our scenic tour of Spartanburg, we would assuredly have given them a big hand salute.

Top 10

#1 Alabama heads to Ole Miss this evening for their Storied Rivalry, giving 23.  #2 Clemson, as we speak, is up 21-0 at the half in a home stand against Georgia Southern.

#3 Georgia is roaring over Middle Tennessee 35-7 as the first half winds down.

#6 Wisconsin hosts BYU this afternoon, donating 22.5.

#8 Notre Dame is a 13.5-point favorite hosting Vanderbilt.

Stanford sneaked up a slot to #9 with the win over USC, and will be hosting UC Davis (FCS, Big Sky) this afternoon.

#10 Washington will be at Utah, for what in other years would be a game-of-the-week contender.  Utah’s in a bit of a slump, however, by Utah standards, and the Huskies are giving a relatively zesty 4.

Best of the rest

In Storied Rivalry action, New Mexico will be at New Mexico State tonight for the Rio Grande Rivalry.  Can’t find a line on that one, presumably because NMSU is awful this year and even diehard Aggies aren’t opening their wallets.  But it’s all in good fun, and we hear the tailgating is superb.

There may have been no telling why Troy was going to play Nebraska today, but darned if the Trojans aren’t up 17-7 at the half.  Let’s all give Nebraska their privacy until this existential meltdown thing is over.

We’re pretty thrilled to see Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) up 31-14 on Rutgers at the half.  We’re always gratified to see anyone up on the Scarlet Commies, but it’s past time for the Jayhawks to prove they’re eligible to vote on a new motto.

In a day of kind of weird match-ups, we’re enjoying the prospect of UTEP at Tennessee, SMU at #19 Michigan, and Prairie View (TX; FCS, Southwest Athletic Conference) at UNLV.  For sheer brio, we salute 0-2 New Hampshire (FCS, Colonial) for making the trek to take on Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”).

We also commend to you #22 USC at Texas.  USC had seconds-long explosive episodes last week, and we’re not sure Texas has had one yet, but the oddsquad agrees there’s potential for competitiveness here.  Prophylactics give 3.5.

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State clocks in at #15 this week, but will be hosting a Nicholls State that’s ranked #12 at the moment.  The Nicholls State Colonels don’t win in Lake Charles very often, and we’re hoping today is not the day.  The 6 PM kickoff will occur under the looming threat of thunderstorms, so “will occur” is provisional.

In Div II, Slippery Rock took a painful 25-21 loss to Shippensburg last week to go 1-1.  The Rock heads to Millersville, PA, where the Marauder record is 0-2 and the stadium name is Biemesderfer.  Cloudy but mild and 80-ish for the 4 PM game start.

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) has a night game at MIAA opponent Lindenwood in St. Charles, Missouri, snuggled picturesquely on the Missouri River a handful of miles from its more famous neighbor, Ferguson.  Clear and pleasant, in the mid-70s, for the 7 PM kickoff.

In Div III, it seems we talked up Rhodes College a bit too much last week, and jinxed Rose-Hulman, which took a rather significant 43-19 loss.  Today Rose-Hulman is at archrival Mount St. Joseph (Cincinnati), and down 27-9 in the 2Q as we speak.  Overcast and a bit humid in the 80s at the moment.  Fight, fight, Fightin’ Engineers!

Christopher Newport is 2-0 after a win over Hampden-Sydney, but today’s scheduled game at NJAC foe Frostburg (MD) has been postponed due to Hurricane Florence.

Merchant Marine, now 2-0 after a nice win over SUNY Maritime, has the week off.  Homecoming hosting Maine Maritime next Saturday.

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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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