Football Follies 2020: NCAA week 2

Football Follies 2020: NCAA week 2
Army kicks its first point after in a 42-0 romp over MTSU, as socially distanced Cadets do their pushups in the stands. CBS Sports video, YouTube

We’re starting the football weekend off annoyed, partly because of that whole NFL thing, and partly because the SMU-TCU Storied Rivalry battle for the Iron Skillet, our favorite duel for a cooking tool, has been, and persists in continuing to remain, “postponed.”  It’s like they published it as a Friday, 11 September game solely for the purpose of reflecting it as “postponed.”  It’s been sitting there like that forever (OK, for over a week, which in 2020 days seems like forever).  Yeah, we get it, candy-tushes.

So no game for us this evening.  The action briefly sparked Thursday night, when UAB visited Miami (Da U) for a 31-14 spanking, but it won’t resume until Saturday morning.  We honor UAB (C-USA) and Miami (ACC) for going ahead like real men with a cross-conference game.

We hear the Big 10’s Karen Council could vote maybe Monday on possibly having some games starting mid-October.  It’s kind of “why bother” at that point, but sure.

In the PAC-12 (who dat?), no signs of impending activity of any kind. Not even the merest whiff of a scintilla of a vote in the mid-term future.   Marquee players are starting to bail, cutting their losses and focusing on the NFL shot.  O-Ducks taking a big hit on both sides of the ball, depressing their ranking pretensions even further.

Trending: Was Joe Biden wearing a ‘wire’ during last night’s debate?

We did get a force recon sighting of the Big 10 Karen Council having secret deliberations at an undisclosed location.

Meanwhile, the state of Nebraska has notified the Big 10 that it appears to be out of compliance with state law on non-profit corporation transparency.  This helpful move is bound to be going places.

Inner Circle

Our other reason for annoyance this weekend is that the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, has had to postpone practices due to COVID-19 protocols, and therefore won’t be playing its opener with Oklahoma State until next weekend (19 September).  The game is also the Pokes’ opener.  Sigh.  Stalled hurricane metaphors are coming to mind, like “subsiding into tropical storm status” and “lingering over the Gulf of Mexico” and so forth.

Then there’s our reason for annoyance because #5 Oklahoma will be – uncharacteristically for the 2020 season – hosting Missouri State (FCS, Missouri Valley Regional Emirate) in a cross-ranks bout on Saturday, which means no TV coverage.  We’ll be reduced to online cartoons and radio.  But we’ll suck it up and do it.

It won’t be the best way to evaluate the success of the depth chart the Sooners released on Wednesday.  We’re struck right away (as we usually are) by the gaggle of true freshmen backing up pint-size senior Tre Brown at corner.  Could be a long season there, but what else is new. A little bemused on the O-line choice of freshman Anton Harrison at left tackle.  Probably won’t make much of a difference against Mo State (Harrison, at 334, will presumably outweigh everyone the Bears line up on D), but his reported great showing in practice will get more of a workout when the Big 12 action cranks up with Kansas State on the 26th.

It’s been a while since the Sooners started the season with so few offensive skill players who are known outside of the Oklahoma program and its faithful.  This Saturday won’t be the test of who breaks out, but should make for some useful scrimmaging.

Bonus note: Mo State acquired Bobby Petrino as head coach in 2020.  Petrino lost at least a step at Louisville after Lamar Jackson left for the NFL, and Petrino departed after the unfortunate 2018 season. He’s a big get for the Bears though.  Man clearly loves to coach.  Probably won’t outcoach Lincoln Riley on Saturday.

Navy has this week off after hanging in there for four quarters on Monday as BYU’s Zach Wilson picked the Mid secondary apart on practically every play.  The final score seemed to be something like 50-odd Cougars, 3 Navy.  We’re sure Coach Niumatalolo (Indian name: Needs a Nickname) will have them in a stalwart frame of mind for meeting American conference foe Tulane next week.  Fortunately, Army can’t throw.

Army plays game 2 on Saturday after a fine 42-0 outing over Middle Tennessee last week, hosting Louisiana-Monroe for another privileged game with Cadets in the stadium.  For what it’s worth, and it mostly hasn’t been worth a warm bucket of spit so far, Army’s giving 16.

As discussed last week, Air Force has only the service academies on the schedule this season, the Mountain West being down for the count.  Air Force plays Navy on 3 October, so we’ll dispense with the Falcon watch until then.

By default, Virginia Tech and Virginia have their Storied Rivalry game prudently scheduled as the season opener, next weekend (19 September).  We’ll endeavor to get a better handle on VT’s interesting 2020 roster by then.  The Hokies were originally scheduled to meet NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) this Saturday, but The COVID hit the Wolfpack and knocked them out of practices.  So that ACC match will be on 26 September.

#6 LSU, we are annoyed to report, won’t be playing until 26 September, when they host Mississippi State.  Admin note on the ranking here: we go with the AP Top 25 each season until the CFP/CFB ranking starts coming out.  This is because that’s what we do.  We, personally, agree with the Coaches Poll, which has LSU and Oklahoma swapped at #5 and #6, respectively.  (And we’re not actually sure we’d put Oklahoma that high, but we haven’t seen anybody play yet, so at this point we’re just saying.)

It’s a major moment of eventhood for us that Kansas State is actually playing an FBS team on Saturday, if not a Big 12 opponent.  Granted, it’s Arkansas State, and they were steamrolled by Memphis last week, and they’re Sun Belt (not that we have anything against Sun Belt), but on paper, at least, it’s a Real Game.

Coach Klieman clocks in for his second year helming the Wildcats, while senior QB Skylar Thompson comes out for his final season behind center.  He’s never been a one-man band; proficient and ever-improving at keeping his head, he’d be better off with some skill depth to hand off and throw to.  Not KSU’s context this year.  Thompson’ll need to make a lot happen, and will have to do it behind a really junior and untested O-line.  On defense, DE Wyatt Hubert, a redshirt junior, is a standout who garnered 7 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 2019, including a sack of Jalen Hurts in a win over Oklahoma.  He’ll need help from some mighty junior folks too.

Sadly, we are assuming the Northwest Concession Booth will not be in play this season in Manhattan.  But we’re awfully excited that there will be Big 12 football on Fox tomorrow.  Cats give 10.

TCU, as mentioned above, is Postponed versus SMU.  As of now, the Toads are scheduled to host Iowa State on 26 September.  COVID willing.

As previously enumerated, Nevada, Toledo, and Wyoming are out of it this year.  We’re sadder and yet feel no wiser, so it’s kind of a lose-lose at this point.  We’ll suspend the watch on them as well, for the time being.

Top 10

There’s actual Top 10 action this week.  Glory be.

#1 Clemson will be at Wake Forest giving 31.

You know about the conference woes of #2 Ohio State.  Same for #7 Penn State.  OK, Karen.

#3 Alabama, #4 Georgia, and #8 Florida won’t be starting the SEC season until 26 September.

#9 Oregon is in the same conference boat as the Big 10 schools.

#10 Notre Dame hosts Duke midday Saturday, giving 20.

So it’s really just the two out of the Top 10 (well, three, with Oklahoma), but at least it’s that many.  We have a weird season ahead of us.

Best of the rest

You just kind of want to hug the ones that are playing this week.  Actual good-game-wise, we wouldn’t despise Syracuse at #18 North Carolina.  #23 Iowa State hosts Louisiana (U-La-La), and the Cyclones are always up to something crazy when they’re playing at home, while the Ragin’ Cajuns are absolutely unpredictable.  So don’t fear to check that one out.

#14 Texas is playing, but they’re hosting UTEP so it will be kind of like clubbing baby seals.  In other lopsided action, Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) will host Coastal Carolina, which we mention mainly because we’re always high on the Chanticleers.  A rooster-jayhawk match-up gets our hearts started any time.

Other ranks

No McNeese State (FCS) watch except in case of glass-breaking news.

Same for our Div II stalwarts, Slippery Rock and University of Central Oklahoma (UCO).

In Div III, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Merchant Marine are also in suspended animation pending signs of life.

Christopher Newport University starts play next week hosting Brevard College.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.