I’ve been trying to spit this out for over a week: just when Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) finally gets Les Miles at the helm, its faculty goes full-frontal and wants to attack Chick-fil-A with thermonuclear weapons. What is wrong with these people?
FBS football vacated Thursday night in favor of the NFL season debut, which saw Green Bay outlast Chicago 10-3. One might think oneself back in 1968 or thereabouts. We’ll see if the NFL can worm its way back into the good graces of your LU Football Commentary Service. Not making any promises.
Friday night has been enlivened by some typical early-season fare, including a weird outing for Arizona State and Sacramento State (FCS, Big Sky), with the latter succumbing 19-7 to a very sluggish Sun Devil squad. We, personally, think Sacramento State is pretty pointless as a football enterprise, there we said it; but the Hornets did beat Oregon State once in 2011. That was back when the universe was wreaking vengeance on the Beavers for that terrible, terrible officials’ error in the Oklahoma game in 2006.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, smallest-enrollment school in the FBS, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is coming off a respectable quality loss to Michigan State in Week 1. The 28-7 outcome could have been a lot worse if the TU D performed in its 2017-18 mode. But 2019 is looking up in that department. Finally bringing back some seasoned guys. They seem more comfortable with the 3-3-5 this year, but not so locked in they couldn’t adjust and take a bite out of MSU at the line. Good receiver coverage overall, both man and zone. Nice to see. MSU only scored once in the second half, and three of the first half scores (one a safety) were handed to them by the jittery Tulsa offense. I think the 16 or so TU fans in the stadium, hidden behind the band, were proud of the D.
Meanwhile, advice for the offense: HANG ONTO THE DANG BALL. Nobody cares how zestfully you skitter and scamper if you’re going to keep leaving a neglected ball bouncing around for alert opponents to pick up.
They’re in zero-creampuffs mode this season, with seriously one of the toughest slates in the AAC. The jaunt to San Jose State on Saturday is the easiest one for weeks. After that it’s Oklahoma State, Wyoming, rival SMU, Navy – that just gets us to mid-October, and it only gets harder AAC-wise from there. (TU has Central Florida this year.) Roar, Hurricane, roar!! Tulsa’s giving 6.5 to the Spartans. Hee.
Oklahoma starts off at #4, with a defense the ABC announcers were practically rolling around and foaming at the mouth about last week, at least for the first three quarters. Then it seemed to occur to them that the Sooner D, while improved in some areas, wasn’t looking that much better than in previous years. Houston kind of busted it wide open in the second half, coming away with 31 points.
On the other hand, imported QB Jalen Hurts racked up some serious numbers and gave the fans an all-around fun ride deploying OU’s typical skill-laden offense. I’m a little leery of how he’ll perform when he doesn’t have time to change his oil and sight in a buck in the pocket while he’s deciding who to throw to. They’ll run into one of those Ds eventually. But the dude’s got legs.
In the meantime, it’s South Dakota (FCS, Missouri Valley) on Saturday, and they suck. So the Sooners have probably got this one.
Oklahoma State left some roadkill in Corvallis last week, and garnered a few votes in the AP’s top 25 green room. The Saturday match-up won’t be quite the same opportunity to impress FBS judges, but it’s near and dear to our hearts, with our FCS star McNeese State heading to Stillwater for this early-season bout. We’re not seeing a lot of hope for the Lake Charles Pokes, but as always, any given Saturday. Like OSU, McNeese lurks below, in the FCS Coaches Poll, following the win over Southern in the season opener.
Navy slapped FCS foe Holy Cross silly 45-7 last week, 6 TDs on the ground, and takes this week off before meeting East Carolina on 14 September.
Army will be at #7 Michigan Saturday, with the Wolverines favored by 22. The ground-pounders got past Rice 14-7 in a low-yardage opener at home. Air Force trounced Colgate (FCS) last week 48-7 and has this week off, preparing for Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) Saturday next.
Virginia Tech, we are sorry to report, dropped Week 1 to Boston College, unable to overcome a turnover curse that was threatening to become epic (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles, none of them with a silver lining). The Hokies will have nightmares about that 2Q for a long time. Their opponent on Saturday is Old Dominion, which should give them a nice scrimmage. VT gives 28.5.
Nevada will find it hard to top last week’s dramatic action with the heart-stopper over Purdue. The Pack will be at Eugene to take on #16 Oregon, which nearly annoyed a lot of people by sending it into O/T with #10 Auburn last week before succumbing 27-21. Ducks are giving 24.5; Nevada has a reasonable shot at covering.
In we-el-ll, doggies action, LSU, nosebleeding it at #6, will be in the marquee slot on Saturday at #9 Texas, a bout that hoots and hollers the glories of yesteryear. Clemson may be taking on A&M, but the rest of the Top 10 is just fiddle-farting around this week; there’s no question one of our own is playing the game of the week, and a top-quality contest it looks to be. LSU gives 6.5, which is probably about right with the D of Death looking deadly, but Coach O very sensibly takes nothing for granted with Longhorn QB Sam Ehlinger, whom he reportedly compares to Tim Tebow, on the other side of the ball. Must-see TV; set your devices for stun.
Kansas State is bringing in Bowling Green for a rare MAC meet, and while frankly, the Wildcats are favored by 25, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Klieman top that in his K-State debut against an FBS team. Kansas State rolled over Nicholls 49-14 last week, a team Klieman knew well of course from his NDSU days, and the early look seems to include a bounce in the Wildcat step. It’s weird to not have Coach Snyder on the sideline, but we look forward to seeing Klieman at work. We’ll be standing by for updates from the Northwest concession booth.
TCU logged a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (FCS) last week, as nature intended, and has this week off before a match with Purdue next Saturday.
Toledo dropped the opener to an improving Kentucky last week, and is also off this week before meeting Murray State on the 14th.
Last but never least, Wyoming gave us fits last week in the O/T win over Mizzou, and this week will be in San Marcos, TX to take on Texas State (Sun Belt). The Bobcats lost in week 1 to Texas A&M by some unsightly score. The two teams have played before, with a 1-1 standoff from their two prior meetings. We look forward to Sean Chambers getting that arm under control. The Texas State campus is a very charming one, by the way. Pokes are giving 7.
#1 Clemson, as mentioned, gives 16.5 hosting #12 Texas A&M.
#2 Alabama (-55) hosts New Mexico State. #3 Georgia will be entertaining Murray State (FCS, Ohio Valley).
#5 Ohio State hosts Cincinnati, giving 16.5.
#8 Notre Dame has the week off.
#10 Auburn, hosting Tulane, is favored by 17.
Best of the rest
It’s kind of meh this week, Best-of-wise, with so many teams playing FCS creampuffs. We salute the heck out of Tennessee-Martin (FCS, Ohio Valley) for heading to Gainesville to take on #11 Florida. Somebody’s gotta do it.
Likewise Stony Brook (FCS, Colonial) crossing the Great Plains to meet Utah State. Not for these doughty warriors the sheltered safety of those in-state cross-ranks matches.
We do note the relative oddity of #23 Stanford and USC holding their Storied Rivalry clash in Week 2. The Pearly Pink will be at the Coliseum; no Greek choruses in this one. USC gives 3, which in other circumstances would be to laugh, since the Trojans lost QB J.T. Daniels to a season-ending injury last week. They’ll be fielding true freshman Kedon Slovis on Saturday. But Stanford has starter K.J. Costello sitting it out this week due to a head collision last week, so odds are pretty even in that department. Back up QB Davis Mills, a sophomore, hasn’t seen a lot of action.
The PAC-12 is pretty much a hot mess in general, so it all fits in.
Other than that, Arkansas at Ole Miss (-6) will probably give you a good time.
West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, gets a whack at Missouri, and although Mizzou is giving 13 at home, we’re dubious on that. Might be worth a look-in.
We note #15 Penn State hosting Buffalo, with a give of 31, if you like blow-outs. PSU’s showing signs of juice.
And Kansas is importing Coastal Carolina, possibly for the sheer thrill of giving points (-7). Something tells us to not count the Jayhawks out. We added this one in homage to Les Miles, plus, so we could say “Chanticleers” in a football context.
McNeese State will be back in its regularly scheduled FCS spot next week. Watch this space.
In Div II, we are gratified to report that Slippery Rock is off to the races with a thumping 62-37 win Thursday night over cross-conference Wayne State – in Detroit, thank you very much. The Rock, ranked #22 in the opening week poll, will kick off Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference action hosting Shippensburg next week.
Sadly, the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) Bronchos lost their season opener Thursday night to Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) opponent Pittsburg State, in Pittsburg, Kansas. But it was a narrow 37-35 loss to the #24 team in Div II, so we’re far from despairing of the season. The Bronchos will meet Nebraska-Kearney in Kearney on 12 September.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is going for the gold with a Week 1 engagement hosting Mount Union, AKA the 900-Pound Gorilla. (Mount Union has slipped all the way to #2 in the opening ranking, behind #1 Mary Hardin-Baylor.) We wish the Fightin’ Engineers a good fight; they’ll be facing 70s and a healthy chance of showers in Terre Haute for the 7 PM kickoff.
Christopher Newport will host the season opener against non-conference North Central College of Naperville, Illinois. The North Central Cardinals play in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, but you don’t need to remember that because there’s no test and we’ll probably never see them again. CNU will start New Jersey Athletic Conference play on the 21st, after next week’s obligatory meet with Hampden-Sydney.
Good old Pomoco Stadium has been renamed TowneBank this year, in honor of the $2 million TowneBank has been putting into the school over the last decade. We wish everyone well in that regard, and send a golf clap their way. The Saturday kickoff in Newport News is at noon, with mid-80s and humid, overcast conditions expected.
On Saturday, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) hosts Fairleigh Dickinson-Florham (FDU-Florham), which you may not recognize as a Div III football school because who would really know that, outside of Madison, New Jersey. FDU has several delightful-looking campuses, including one in Teaneck, one in Vancouver, B.C., and one in the UK at Wroxton. For one small slice of the Florham campus in Madison, you can check the webcam here.
This is an out-of-conference flyer for the Mariners. It’s Parents’ Weekend in Kings Point; the game start at noon should see partly cloudy and low 70s.