Ah, fall. It’s in full swing now, we’re at the CFP break (almost; we’re having to put this one to bed before the ranking comes out this week), and the MAC is now consistently delighting us with ¡Tuesday Night Football, Olé! And ¡Wednesday Night! and ¡Thursday Night Football!
The semiannual Daylight Saving Time Torture is coming up this weekend too, which isn’t quite as much an occasion for rejoicing. But we digress. Better to blink rapidly and point out the obvious: that Washington State is now ridiculously overranked, and it seems clear these poll rankings are accomplished with arcane statistics and biased algorithms that are going to get us all killed, instead of with slide rules and punch card program-runs that would at least give human intervention a fighting chance.
Bottom line: you now have to get up pretty early to beat the MAC to its slate of offerings for the week.
The University of Tulsa, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, may be 1-7 now, but so is UConn, which comes barking into T-Town for a Saturday engagement of the AAC Untouchables. It’s not impossible for the Golden H to rack up a second Dubya this week. No one seems interested in laying odds on this one. Sad!
Oklahoma, #7 for now, heads to perennial annoyance Texas Tech for the marquee match on Saturday evening. The Red Raiders lost in a ragged frisk with Iowa State last week, so think sparkly bedazzled chip on that satin shoulder; whereas Muleshoe Man is still having to drag his team into the right frame of mind for the burden of, you know, winning every week. Like that’s a thing or something. (We’re gratified, at least, to see Riley affirm that he’s “not interested in the NFL right now.” This after Hue Jackson bows out at Cleveland. Drama, drama.)
Sooners come into Lubbock bestrewing their way with 10.5 points in the line.
Oklahoma State will be at Baylor Saturday morning, giving 7.5. The Cowboys should cover and more, but they may be on the downside of the sine curve again, so we’ll wait and see. Apparently Mike Gundy said something disparaging about social media this week, following that up with a rude noise, so we at least know he’s on form and ready to rumble.
Navy (2-6) heads to 7-1 Cincinnati for a Saturday meet and a do-or-die shot at bowl eligibility. The out-schedule isn’t promising: after Cincinnati there’s #9 UCF to contend with, and of course Army at the end. Even Tulsa and Tulane aren’t gimmes. Having to switch QBs out minus an OPLAN in each game, because they don’t really have an actual “QB,” is starting to tell. Still, they’re our Mids and we love ‘em. Bearcats give 13.5.
Army hits the big one hosting Air Force in West Point, a game that may well decide the Commander’s Cup this year. You better believe there’s a line on this one, with the Knights giving 7.5. It will be a tough slog for Air Force, but the Falcons do see the triple option twice a season, and they can throw and catch. It’s by no means impossible for Big Blue to soar off with it this time. CBSSN at noon on Saturday. Make your appointment now.
Virginia Tech (4-3) is venturing out again after a hiatus with the window shades down – at least as far as Lane Stadium. The Hokies will host #24 Boston College, which we wouldn’t call #24 ourselves, but which has certainly been looking healthy and Top 50-ish getting to 6-2. Such is the ACC Coastal this year that 4-3 (3-1 conference) is good enough to put VT second in the division standings. If the Hokies knock off the Eagles, and they have everything they need to do that, they can conceivably remain in contention through the big game with the Yahoos. They do need to find a way to stop tripping the meltdown switch. BC gives 2.
Nevada, after a most satisfying win over San Diego State, has the week off. Colorado State looms on 10 November.
And then there’s #4 LSU hosting #1 Alabama for what is clearly the game of the week, on Saturday night. For the record, we think the 14 points Alabama is giving are just silly. We’d see the 7 range as reasonable. The Tide is legitimately awesome and all that, but let’s be honest here: who have they played? Unlike literally everyone ‘Bama has faced to date, LSU’s got the D that can handle Tua T, if they step up. And they’re going to get tired; they just have to know that going in.
For the Tigers, the O line has got to get it done. Got to. A more-looks offense is great, but it all hinges on the line and that center of gravity. Must-watch football in Death Valley. Be there.
TCU hosts Kansas State Saturday for our patented Inner Circle Battle of the Purple: a game whose possibilities we wouldn’t disdain, even if both teams come in 3-5 and dealing with youth and inexperience on both sides of the ball. Losing KaVonte Turpin to a felony arrest didn’t help the prospects in Frog Country. We’ll see if the receiver corps has been thinned enough for the scrappy but overstretched K-State secondary. TCU is favored by 8.5.
Toledo makes an appearance in ¡Wednesday Night Football! hosting Ball State, which rolls into town 3-6 to Toledo’s 4-4. Ball State is lower tier on pretty much all things D; the Rockets may be missing starting QB Mitchell Guadagni, who left the Eastern Michigan game with a shoulder injury, but Eli Peters more than held his own coming in as reliever. He’ll justify a reasonable Toledo give in the line, if they get that sorted out. (One agency is showing Toledo -17, but that seems a bit steep.)
Wyoming comes off the big win in the Border War with Colorado State, hosting San Jose State Saturday morning in Laramie. The 3-6 Pokes give 13.5.
#2 Clemson (-38) hosts Louisville in the early-bird special on Saturday. #3 Notre Dame is at Northwestern giving 8.
#5 Michigan hosts #14 Penn State, a very big game for the CFP as well as the Big X. We love Wolverine fans for the 10-point UM give, but you still need a nosebleed offense to justify a #5 or higher. Penn State has a pretty darn good one, so this ought to be a whale of a game.
#6 Georgia will be at #11 Kentucky, with the Wildcats looking overmatched (+9) although the sportsbabblers are hyping this one like crazy.
#8 Ohio State hosts Nebraska, giving 20.5.
#9 UCF hosts Temple Thursday night, giving 11. #10 Washington State (-10.5) hosts Cal on Saturday night, which could be interesting. The PAC-12 is a hot mess this year; week to week, anything could happen.
Best of the rest
#12 West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, at new, post-Stillwater #15 Texas will have big implications for the conference, and could tee up some great football as well. Both teams really need this one; the Mountaineers still have the chance to bend the arc in their favor with their final game hosting Oklahoma. Longhorns give 1 in Austin.
In Storied Rivalry action, #17 Houston is at SMU, donating 14. This rivalry dispenses with any silly knickknacks – which doesn’t really shout “Texas!” but seems to keep the customers satisfied.
The Shula Bowl, a newly great and increasingly Stored Rivalry, will unfold Saturday when Florida Atlantic heads to Florida International. The Golden Panthers give 3.5, which just shows you.
On a rivalry-light weekend, we feel it’s a good time to mention that Minnesota should really have one with Illinois. The bronze pig is taken, but maybe a papier-mâché dairy cow or something. Goldie’s giving 9.5. in Champaign.
In FCS, McNeese State edged out Central Arkansas in a hard-fought bout last week, and has bounced gently to #12. (UCA dropped five to #19.) The Cowboys will be at Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday. The Lions are 3-6. Saturday is looking clear and mid-60-ish for a 6 PM kickoff in Hammond, LA.
In Div II, Slippery Rock romped over California (PA) last week, and hits the pavement at 8-1 this week, headed for the PSAC title game, and the top vote-getter below #25 in the Div II Coaches poll. The Rock will be hosting Gannon University on Saturday, which comes in 2-7. Saturday at 1 PM is looking like mid-40s and partly cloudy – perfect football weather.
UCO, 6-3, whomped the snot out of Missouri Southern last week, and heads off to in-state rival Northeastern State in Tahlequah on Saturday for President’s Cup play. The 0-9 RiverHawks will at least have home field advantage. The 3 PM kickoff will see mid-60s and cloudy skies.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman has climbed to 4-4 (4-2 conference) with a rousing win last week over Defiance. The Fightin’ Engineers have a test coming up Saturday, however, as they head to Hanover College (IN), 5-3 and just behind Franklin and Mt. St. Joe in the Heartland standings. Game start at 2 PM will see mid-50s and scattered clouds.
Christopher Newport has surged to 5-2 with a win over Kean, and heads to The College of New Jersey (Ewing, NJ) for a Saturday engagement. TCNJ is 2-6; 50s and looming clouds will rule the landscape for the 1 PM game start.
Merchant Marine trots its 6-1 record off to Washington, D.C. Saturday to take on Catholic University. The Cardinals are 0-8 and unlikely to improve on that against the Mariners. The trend continues for the 12 PM kickoff: 50s and cloudy in our nation’s capital.