So it’s Friday evening and our side isn’t faring that well so far. Is it going to be one of those weeks? [Yes, it’s now Saturday and Oklahoma and Toledo have already won, with TCU looking unstoppable in the Fort. As an aside, what is it with Pitt, that they seem to keep having trouble pulling away from manifestly overmatched opponents, and yet surprise the heck out of everybody when they’re the underdog? Starting to look like somebody’s personal problem.]
Could be (one of those weeks), although admittedly, trying to judge from something like the utter, screaming meltdown of the Terps (not our side, but an interesting bellwether) is probably not a good idea. Maryland didn’t seem to suck quite this indescribably even in the Syracuse game. The 59-0 loss to Penn State Friday night is not a good look. In fact, it looks like it’s a year in which the war cry shifts to “Smear the Turtle.” (I’m probably out of date and that’s not even a thing anymore.)
We frankly weren’t expecting Cal to lose at home to Arizona State. More in our select Inner Circle section.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is up to 2-2 after the win-ugly over Wyoming last week. We’re proud of Tulsa for significant improvements over last year, and reasonable prospects for a bowl-eligible season. The Hurricane is off this weekend and will head to SMU for the rivalry game next Saturday.
New #6 Oklahoma has been supplanted by new #5 Ohio State, which is hard to argue against. We’re leery of the Saturday contest with Texas Tech – a perennial spoiler for the Sooners – but at least it’s in Norman. OU is giving 27.5, which is usually a bad omen. The Red Raiders have a bit less offense than last year, and even less defense than that, so the spread looks good on paper. But this game always has an “X” factor (which may be new head coach Gary Wells, coming in on a strong rep with offense from Utah State. Wells did good stuff with Tulsa as a receivers coach in the riding-high mid-2000s). We figure TTU to cover in a narrower loss. [OK, OK, that prognostication went south. But hey, it’s all good.]
Major Big 12/Inner Circle action in Stillwater, meanwhile, as Oklahoma State hosts a surging Kansas State, which is debuting in the Top 25 at #24 this week. This one should be a heck of a game, after the Cowboys held their own better than expected against Texas last week. Gundy and Klieman both come across as adapt-on-the-fly fighting coaches, and they’ve both got raw talent to work with. Kind of looking forward to this one. As always, Gundy has the tonsorial edge. The Pokes give 4 in the home stand, but we’d tighten that to pretty much a pick-‘em.
Navy went down Thursday night, 35-23 in a tough bout with AAC opponent Memphis, which is busting out again this year and looking like the pick of the AAC-West litter so far. The Mids are at 2-1 now and have the big match with Air Force coming up next weekend.
Speaking of Air Force, they knocked off San Jose State 41-24 Friday evening. And it’s Army’s turn to be slovenly and unmilitary and take the weekend off. They’ll be hosting Tulane on 5 October.
Virginia Tech took a regular beating from Duke Friday evening, 45-10. Looks like a long season unfolding. Holy cow, where’d the defense go. No penetration on the line, at least not to the traditional standard of Hokie D. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that you can’t knock the ACC Coastal askew this year. It’s reinventing itself each week through Brownian movement; Virginia is 4-0, but it would be an exaggeration to say they’ve really played “anybody” so far, and they still have to face Notre Dame (Saturday), Miami, and Duke. The Hokies are looking like the anti-Promise at the moment, but we’re not giving up just yet.
Nevada will host Mountain West foe Hawaii (3-1) Saturday night, giving 2.5 and with a very respectable prospect of covering against the early MWC-West leader.
#4 LSU has the weekend off (not “off,” like last week versus Vandy, but really off off). They swing back into action hosting Utah State next week.
TCU, smarting after losing the Skillet to SMU, will be loaded for bear hosting Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) in a Big 12 Byways match on Saturday. The Jayhawks haven’t fulfilled their early promise (get on the right side of Chick-Fil-A, dudes), but we’re halfway between meh and fine-by-us on the -15 for the Frogs.
Toledo hosts BYU, of all people, in an early match on Saturday. The Rockets are 2-1 off the win over Colorado State; the Cougars come in 2-2, including squeaky wins over USC and Tennessee. BYU gives 2.5.
Wyoming toes the line in Laramie on Saturday hosting UNLV, and we hope they’ve thoroughly replenished their electrolytes by now after the Battle of the Humidity in Tulsa. We’re delighted that 3-1 Wyoming is giving 9 to the 1-2 Scurvy Rebel Scum.
UNC is so woeful, #1 Clemson is giving them 27.5 in Chapel Hill on Saturday.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, is on the short end of 37 at #2 Alabama in their Storied Rivalry meet.
#3 Georgia has the week off after prevailing over Notre Dame.
#5 Ohio State heads to Nebraska giving 17 in the marquee slot Saturday evening.
#7 Auburn gives 10 hosting Mississippi State.
#8 Wisconsin hosts Northwestern bright and early, giving 24.5.
#9 Florida hosts Towson (FCS, Colonial) for a little target practice.
#10 Notre Dame (-10) entertains #18 Virginia, and is likely to more than cover. We’re not convinced about the Yahoos. They weren’t dominating in the win over their only real opponent so far (31-24 over Florida State); Notre Dame fought a good fight with the #3 Bulldogs. Should be an informative game.
Best of the rest
A Storied Rivalry will unfold in Michigan, when Central Michigan heads to Western Michigan to battle for the Victory Cannon. As with most of these bait-and-switch cannons, it’s a little replica knick-knack thing, but we expect, with the oddsquad, to see WMU (-16.5) come out with it.
Naturally, we are on pins and needles to see if this is the weekend Harbaugh will be chased out of Ann Arbor with torches and pitchforks. The #20 Wolverines are importing the Scarlet Commies, and at least seem likely to requite their bettors, who have them giving 11.
It stills feels odd that #21 USC will be at #17 Washington, and that’s, like, it for the PAC-12. We don’t necessarily recommend this game for a quality football experience, but you can tune in to ponder how odd it is, if you like that sort of thing. Huskies give 11. We’ll see; USC has pulled some surprises.
For an even more meditative interlude, Akron at UMass will be streaming online midday. Both teams are 0-4 and black-and-blue, but by golly, they play in the FBS. As you would expect, the visiting Zips are favored by 8.
In FCS, McNeese State, now 2-2, was lackluster in the loss at Abilene Christian last week, and we’re not real jazzed about more luster hosting Sam Houston on Saturday. Kickoff 6 PM; humid, 80s, overcast in Lake Charles. But you knew that.
In Div II, Slippery Rock roared over Millersville 49-0 last week. The Rock proceeds to Seton Hill, in Greensberg, for Saturday’s match. They break the Top 10 this week, edging up to #10 in the Coaches poll – not an easy feat for those that aren’t routinely in the Div II stratosphere. It’s more exclusive up there than the old country clubs in New England. If your 5XG grandpa wasn’t a charter member, you’ll never have one of the good lockers. Lowering clouds and right around 80 at the 2 PM kickoff.
UCO heads to Maryville, MO for a meet with Northwest Missouri State, after laying a 63-0 wallop on Lincoln last week. The Bearcats are, precisely, one of those privileged Top 10 perennials, currently #7, so we’re not jazzed about the Bronchos prospects this weekend either. The forecast is for rain and 60s all day; kickoff is 1:30 PM.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman will be at Manchester (IN) to kickstart Heartland play. Manchester sucks in a royal way, so the Engineers likely have this one in the bag. Fair weather for the 1 PM game start, with partly cloudy and 70s.
Christopher Newport lost what apparently was a wrist-slicer at Brevard last week (27-6) , and is now 0-3 with the non-quality losses heading to the first NJAC contest at Kean (Union, NJ). But that’s next week; this weekend, the Captains have leisure to ponder their shortcomings and strive to do better.
Merchant Marine, we’re happy to report, slaughtered SUNY Maritime all over the place (45-0) for a Homecoming treat. They’re at Maine Maritime on Saturday, where we can expect another decisive win if Maine Maritime’s record is anything to go by. A very nice upper sixties with a few clouds and light breezes for the 12 PM game start.