It’s Creampuff Slaughter Derby week in the FBS, and you either love that and live for it, or the pickings are kind of slim for your tastes in Week 12 of 2018.
That said, ¡MAC Olé! has been gratifying so far, with a fun contest on Tuesday in which Ball State prevailed, unexpectedly, over Western Michigan in a shootout with an OT cardiac flourish, and Toledo rampaged on Thursday over Kent State, with Kent State gamely mounting a half-rampage in return.
Friday night’s fare has a total snoozer on one side (Boys Estate slapping New Mexico around), and a really peculiar baseball-score type thing on the other (Memphis, in hideous gray, up on SMU 7-5 somewhere well into the second half). We feel the poles realigning and the undersea volcanoes tuning up an Anvil Chorus.
(OK, so shortly after writing that, Memphis scored again to make it 14-5. Still a reasonable baseball score if you’re Cincinnati and Atlanta. P.S. Memphis won.)
The University of Tulsa, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is at Navy Saturday afternoon for a battle of the cellar-dwelling AAC also-staggereds. We dearly love these Inner Circle teams, who both come in 2-8. There’s a line on the game, as Navy bettors apparently know an opportunity when they see one. Mids give 6. Either team actually has a real shot at a win.
#6 Oklahoma hosts Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) Saturday evening, giving 34.5 and presumably ready to experiment some more with jumping around optimistically in front of receivers, this time the Jayhawks’. It isn’t quite clear what that’s supposed to accomplish, but it’s fascinating to watch. We caught sight of something that seemed to have elliptical value as an analogy this week.
Did you know? The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border is a daily military practice that the security forces of India and Pakistan have jointly followed since 1959! pic.twitter.com/EkhoWmxSQm
— RT (@RT_com) November 17, 2018
One key difference: India isn’t favored by 34.5 over Pakistan, or vice versa, as far as we know. But other than that, it kind of works.
Oklahoma State has a big one coming up, hosting #9 West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, on Saturday afternoon. We’d actually give you a plugged nickel (if not a lot more) for WVU’s defense, so although we’ll be pulling for the Cowboys (somebody’s got to clear the path for Oklahoma), we have to go with the oddsquad on this one, which has the Mountaineers giving 6.
Army hosts Colgate (#6 in FCS, Patriot League) for an other-ranks excursion, although one that should hold some interest. Colgate leads in Patriot and is 9-0 and fierce. Army has the equipment to prevail solidly this season, but won’t do it without breaking a sweat.
Air Force heads to Inner Circle fave Wyoming for a major tiebreaker in our select world. They’ll be playing in Laramie on Saturday to decide who remains alive for bowl eligibility. Both teams come in 4-6, and we couldn’t be prouder of them for getting this far. The Cowboys are giving 2.5, based partly on home field advantage and partly on Nico Evans advantage. (Evans ran for close to 200 yards in the decisive win over Colorado State.)
Virginia Tech lost ugly to Pitt, but at 4-5 still has a path to 6 if the Hokies can knock off Miami (Da U), which will visit in Blacksburg for their Storied Rivalry on Saturday afternoon. The Hokie D hasn’t looked – well, like a Hokie D, since the FSU game in Week 1. So we’re…concerned. But the Hurricanes are 5-5 and have lost four in a row, so we’re also not giving up. Miami gives 6.
Nevada destroyed Colorado State, as who doesn’t these days, to surge to 6-4 and bowl eligibility. Well done to the Wolf Pack. They head to San Jose State on Saturday, where they’ll be giving 14.5 to the sucky Spartans.
#7 LSU will be slaughtering a creampuff, hosting Rice in Death Valley and favored by 42.
TCU (4-6) courts peril at Baylor (5-5) in their Storied Rivalry on Saturday morning, just on the edge of clocking out of the bowl race for the year. This is a noble, ancient (1899), stealth rivalry, without showy prizes or romantic backstory, for which dedicated fans of both teams will show up in droves, which is why we love football country. The oddspuppies have the same “meh” feeling we’ve got about the outcome, favoring the Bears by 2 in Waco.
Kansas State is 4-6 after the nail-biter over Kansas, and has only the advantage of playing host in Saturday’s test against Texas Tech. It’s been a tough slog for the ‘Cats this season, and they won’t bring anything more spectacular tomorrow than the grit they’ve ground out four hard-fought wins with. But we’d agree with the oddsquad: 5-5 TTU’s pizzazz doesn’t warrant more than a give of about 6.
Toledo outscrambled Kent State 56-34 in a highly entertaining match, and heads to its final season game against Central Michigan, next Friday, bowl eligible at 6-5.
#1 Alabama hosts the Citadel (FCS, Southern) for a creampuff bloodbath. #2 Clemson gives 28 hosting Duke.
#3 Notre Dame bucks the trend hosting #12 Syracuse and favored by 10. We aren’t expecting the unexpected, but sometimes Syracuse does jump funny. Seldom on the road, however.
#4 Michigan (-28) hosts Indiana. #5 Georgia (-41) hosts UMass.
#8 Washington State hosts Arizona, giving 10. This really isn’t on the same planet as Notre Dame giving 10 to Syracuse, but we know we don’t need to tell you that.
#10 Ohio State is at Maryland giving 14, and we could kind of write a book about what’s going on with that (and Washington State, for that matter), but we’ll save it for those leisurely retirement years. With all the irreverent tomfoolery in much of the top 10 this week, we see no reason why Oklahoma shouldn’t remain #6 no matter how vainly the Sooner D huffs and puffs.
Best of the rest
We start by pointing out that the marquee game this week is #24 Cincinnati at #11 Central Florida (-7.5) – a very fine and significant bout for the AAC, but not meaningful to the CFP. UCF, 9-0, leads the AAC East; Cincinnati at 9-1 trails in the AAC East standings. Both should get quality bowl bids.
If you do happen to enjoy creampuff slaughters, #13 Florida will be hosting Idaho (FCS, Big Sky), North Carolina hosts Western Carolina (our beloved Catamounts; FCS, Southern), Auburn (-28.5) hosts Liberty, and South Carolina (motto; The Other USC) hosts Chattanooga (FCS, Southern). Among others.
USC Actual, meanwhile, will be irrelevantly playing its Storied Rivalry match at UCLA in the Rose Bowl. The 5-5 Trojans were last seen losing to Cal; UCLA is 2-8 and out of bowl contention. Neither school can shed coaches fast enough. We’re heartened to note that some USC students tried to gin up excitement this week by spray-painting the base on which the UCLA Bruin statue is mounted. Trojans give 3.
#19 Utah will be at Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) for the Storied Rumble in the Rockies. Ranked Utah, leading the PAC-12 South, gives only 7 to the Buffaloes, who are 2-5 in conference play and second only to UCLA in overall suckage, PAC-12-South-wise. These data points help clarify the validity of the mantra “It’s a PAC-12 thing.”
The most excellent Storied Rivalry of San Diego State and Fresno State will unfold in Fresno on Saturday night, with the teams duking it out for the Oil Can. This is our kind of trophy, homely, gnarly, and unpretentious. The oil can is mounted on a wooden base, because these trophy people are just incorrigible, but otherwise you could find it in the back of a crazy great-uncle’s barn, covered in pigeon droppings.
The teams—MWC-West leaders – look well-matched on paper, but we’re down with the 13 points the Bulldogs are giving in the line.
We’re also saddened to report that the Stanford-Cal rivalry match is postponed due to the horrendous fire situation and its impact on air quality in the Bay Area. Our hearts and prayers are with the people who have lost so much in the fires, and the incredible first responders who have been dealing with them for so many days without let-up.
In FCS, McNeese State slips again to 6-4 and #21 after the loss to Northwestern State. Southland’s Nicholls State (8-3) is way ahead of the pack in the conference standings and ranked #15; the playoff slate won’t be set until after this weekend. McNeese’s final regular season match is with Lamar (of Beaumont, TX) on Saturday. Lamar comes to Lake Charles 6-4; conditions look to be partly cloudy and around 70 for the humanely timed 3 PM kickoff.
In Div II, Slippery Rock lost to West Chester for the PSAC title last week, but gets a Div II tournament berth on Saturday, playing at #13 Long Island U. Post (Brookville, NY). LIU Post comes in as the Northeast-10 Conference champion, and a prospective Div IAA (FCS) school starting in 2019. Good on the Rock for getting seeded. Sunny and mid-40s in the Brookville for the noon game start.
West Chester will also, of course, be playing in Round 1, meeting New Haven.
UCO finished the season 7-4 with the loss to Emporia State, but has one more mile to go with an invite to the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl in Waco on 1 December, about which we’ll have much more to say later. Congrats to the Bronchos on another successful season.
MIAA’s Fort Hays State will play Indianapolis, and Northwest Missouri State will play Grand Valley State (Allendale, MI) in Round 1.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman finished off the season 5-5 with a terrifying 70-6 win over Earlham. Well done, Engineers.
Christopher Newport closed the books at 7-2 with the win over Wesley College. Bravo Zulu, Captains.
Merchant Marine did drop the rivalry match to Coast Guard. But it was a fun game, and we can’t really be sad to see the Coasties win. The Mariners also finish 7-2, and we say, Well done.
Among our Div III conferences of interest, Frostburg State, title-winner in Christopher Newport’s NJAC, will play in Round I of the tournament.
In Merchant Marine’s NEWMAC, conference champion MIT heads to Round 1 to face Johns Hopkins.