To begin with, we have an uncanny feeling Texas Tech may knock off Baylor and send yet another fresh-caught #20-something back to the showers. Although the Bears will be at home (which makes about as much difference between Lubbock and Waco as it does between Norman and Stillwater).
That said, the news this week, all due respect to the SEC, will be the Shootout.
We don’t want to think about what’s going on down in Miami right now. It’s the 3Q and Da U is up 7-3 on the #20 Yahoos. Instead of breaking out the semaphore flags, we’re pondering Colorado State and New Mexico being tied at 14-all, which sounds like fun, but probably not enough to change the channel for.
It’s the big week for the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, and visiting Navy, now an annual AAC-West opponent. Last week’s TU loss to SMU was very, very hard, especially after leading 30-9 late in the 3Q. It didn’t help that the sportsbabblers were so transparently thrilled over the SMU comeback. Hello. TU fans out here; could we get a little balance, please. Well, Tulsa killed themselves with some big penalties, and they just have to quit doing that. Navy had a very gratifying win over Air Force, and comes in a 1-point favorite for the Saturday evening match.
#6 Oklahoma and #11 Texas meet in the Cotton Bowl at 11:00 AM Central in the Game of Games: the Shootout. Imagine pow-pow-pow noises in your mind’s ear. (Facebook confetti doesn’t seem quite right as a festive accompaniment.) Imagine I-35 a parking lot all the way from Goldsby to the Terminator-horror-set 35E-30 interchange. Imagine the lines at the restrooms in Gainesville. Imagine the wafting scent of corn dogs and caramel popcorn from Fair Park next to the stadium. Shootout!
We’re going to accord LSU the game of the week with Florida (more below), but the Shootout is likely to be the decisive game in the Big 12’s regular season, and there’s a lot riding on it.
The big question isn’t whether the Sooner defense can shut Sam Ehlinger and his merry men down, but whether they will. On the other side of the ball, Texas has to get inside Jalen Hurts’s OODA loop. His protection from the OU O line has been phenomenal so far. The Longhorn D has been fine, especially in comparison to the last 5-6 years, but not spectacular. Middling opponents are getting the better of their pass defense; Burrow and LSU had a field day.
Oklahoma gives 10.5, because Sooner bettors are happy idiots. Vittle up, there’s a Shootout in the morning.
Oklahoma State is back under control south of the 25 marker, and has the week off.
Army is 3-2 after the loss to Tulane, and heads to Bowling Green, KY to take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Black Knights are favored by 4.5.
Air Force hosts Fresno State Saturday, which comes in 2-2, both losses very respectable ones to Power-5 teams (USC and Minnesota). A more telling stat is the Bulldogs’ sagging defense, which allowed a surprising number of points and yards in wins over Sacramento State and New Mexico State. The Falcons get the odds nod by 3.5.
Virginia Tech, always with the jokes and raillery, is hosting Rhode Island’s Rams (FCS, Colonial) on Saturday. Rhody is 1-4, with a narrow win over Brown. It will probably be beautiful in Blacksburg; we haven’t checked.
Nevada springs back into action hosting San Jose State, and we’re gratified to report that the Pack is giving 3.5, which seems sensible. Now there, we’ve checked: 70-ish, sunny, and dry as a bone for an afternoon kickoff in Mackay Stadium.
#5 LSU hosts #7 Florida Saturday night for what must undoubtedly figure as the game of the week. LSU gives 13.5, which frankly is because – Death Valley advantage aside – Florida probably isn’t quite as “all that” as the #7 ranking would suggest. We’re prepared to be wrong. Always; it’s football, and it bounces funny. But the 6-0 Gators dominated the snot out of, you know, UT-Martin and Towson. Their quality win over Auburn was solid, but not so convincing we think their defense can get out ahead of the Burrow freight-train. Should be some good football, at any rate.
TCU has the weekend off, with its next date up in Manhattan for the Big 12’s grand Purple-Off on the 19th.
Kansas State, the other half of the Purple-Off, has a timely time-out this week as well, and will spend it thinking deep thoughts about the loss to Baylor.
Toledo, coming off a nice conference win over Western Michigan, strikes out down I-75 to take on Bowling Green in that heavily Storied Rivalry, the Battle of I-75. The Rockets are giving 27, which given BGSU’s performance to date sounds conservative.
Wyoming brings us home Saturday night, heading west to take on San Diego State starting at 7:30 PM Pacific. Both teams come in 4-1 for what is shaping up to be a major Mountain West clash. The oddsbubbas have the Aztecs favored by 3.5, which is partly homefield and partly a slight experience edge. Wyoming can win this one. They need to keep the penalties under control.
#1 Alabama (-17) is at #24 Texas A&M.
#2 Clemson gives 27 hosting Florida State.
#3 Georgia (-21.5) hosts South Carolina (motto: The Other USC).
#4 Ohio State has the week off.
#8 Wisconsin gives 10 to visiting Michigan State, in a Power-5 in-conference match that isn’t that lopsided and shows promise.
#9 Notre Dame hosts USC for their annual Storied Rivalry duke-out over the fruitiest trophy in all college football, the Jeweled Shillelagh. Although we 4/4ths don’t care, we are always stoked to bring you the Shillelagh’s masterly close-up.
The Arsh give 11.
#10 Penn State will be at #17 Iowa to entertain us in the marquee slot Saturday evening, and we predict some good football out of this one. (Better than the pointless thing they’ve got going in Eugene this evening. Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) we were expecting, but at some point you have to ask why #13 Oregon bothers to show up for the first half every week if they’re not going to play.) Anyway, PSU gives 3.5. We’re looking for a patented Big 10 slugfest.
Best of the rest
Pickings are a bit slim here, but we’re delighted that Kent State will be at Akron to battle in their Storied Rivalry for the Wagon Wheel. The Golden Flashes are favored by 14 over the Zips, and all we can say is, “Who knew?”
Nebraska, which is actually 4-2 although you’d never think it, will be at 5-0 Minnesota for their Storied Rivalry, and we know you haven’t forgotten the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy. As anti-hip hip participation tokens go, it’s a solid Meh, which is what the kids were shooting for anyway. Win-win. The oddsquad doesn’t foresee a win-win; it has Goldie and Pals giving 7.5.
We wouldn’t actively steer you away from Iowa State (-10) at West Virginia, pride of the Big 12.
We might steer you away from NM State at Central Michigan (-11) or UMass at Louisiana Tech (-32; motto: “We’re controlling the WAC-related PTSD nicely with medication now”), if we thought there were any likelihood of you seeing either game. But we’re starting to admire the hapless but persistent NMSU Aggies almost as much as we do the Minutemen, so we’ll go ahead and mention them.
Meanwhile, everybody from Arizona is playing somebody from Washington this week. We’ll let you know if anything happens.
In FCS, McNeese State is 3-3 with a W streak of 1 after the win over Southeastern Louisiana. The Cowboys head for one of our favorite cities on the planet – Conway, Arkansas – to take on Central Arkansas in a Storied Rivalry match known as the Red Beans and Rice Bowl. This excellent series stretches back to 1994, and features the 50 Pound Iron Pot Trophy – which, if you’ve seen the impossibly garish Golden Boot swapped off by their FBS confreres, is a tasteful aesthetic relief. Central Arkansas is 3-2 and has throttled back some from powerhouse mode. 4 PM kickoff with low 60s and clear skies in Conway.
In Div II, major, major action as new #9 Slippery Rock hosts PSAC rival #16 Indiana (PA) for the biggest PSAC clash of the season. Both teams come in 5-0 with steamrolling-the-stats records. Check your ESPN3 channels; sometimes they pick these games up. Chilly upper 50s with rain for the 2 PM kickoff, but we know they can cope in the Keystone State.
UCO heads off to face another ringer in Warrensburg, Missouri, taking on MIAA foe #15 Central Missouri at 1:30 PM. The Bronchos are 2-3 and likely to be 2-4 on the ride home. Right around 60 and sunny for the game start.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman suffered a painful loss to Franklin (IN) last week, when the Grizzlies came back from a 14-point deficit in the 4Q to win 29-28. Ouch. They head to Bluffton U. (Bluffton, IN) on Saturday for the next Heartland match. The Beavers are 0-4, although not totally awful. They’ve scored respectably in each of their losses. 50s and sunny for the 1:30 PM kickoff.
Christopher Newport, now 0-4 after a 30-6 loss to Kean, is officially in Rebuilding mode. On Saturday, the Captains host William Paterson U. (Wayne, N.J.), which regulars will remember for being the alma mater of Ian Ziering and Joey Travolta, John’s older brother. 2-2 WPU’s wins include FDU-Florham (Merchant Marine’s nemesis) and Maritime College; mid-70s and clouding up for a 1 PM game start.
It took 2 OTs, but Merchant Marine knocked off MIT last week 35-29, and we couldn’t be prouder. The 3-1 Mariners strike up the coast to take on Norwich in Northfield, VT on Saturday. Norwich is 4-1 but lost to Springfield last week (although Springfield tends perennially to be one of the best teams in the conference, and the loss was narrow at 21-17). Topping out at 60 and overcast for the 1 PM kickoff.