Football Follies 2020: NCAA week 4

Football Follies 2020: NCAA week 4
Tulsa DL #94 Anthony Goodlow takes down OK-State back-up QB #6 Ethan Bullock to stop a Cowboy drive. Sep 2020. YouTube video

Except for the Solemn Postponements section, into which our beloved University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, sadly falls this week, the FBS schedule for the weekend has something perilously close to a normal look about it.

The SEC is back.  More of the Big 12 will actually be playing on Saturday, at least as it stands now.  The ACC is hanging in there, continuing to show the Power-3 the way.  We got us some games to contemplate.

Meanwhile, the PAC-12 voted on Thursday to have a seven-game season starting the 7 November weekend, with a conference-title game between the division leaders on 19 December, while everyone else also plays a seventh game.

The Mountain West also voted on Thursday to play a season, so they’re back too.  Their eight-game run is to start 24 October.  We’ll get to see some pigskin from our MWC contingent (a three-fer with Air Force, Nevada, and Wyoming), and we’re darn proud to think of that.

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Still waiting to see if the MAC will come galloping back and give us a little bit of Toledo Rocketry before it’s all she wrote this year.  Dudes, don’t let us down!

With these developments, and Florida lifting all mandatory COVID-19 restrictions, the Feelz are just there.  I have a feeling at a minimum that the CFP gurus will need a long, 100% capacity lunch in Miami to figure out what the heck to do about a championship this year.  We’ll decide after eyeballing Oklahoma for the first time Saturday morning if we think the Sooners have any realistic chance at all.

Inner Circle

So, Tulsa will not play Arkansas State as scheduled, due to Arkansas State joining the sick, lame, and lazy list with a COVID outbreak.  These whining excuse-mongers claim they can’t make up a full two-deep roster by Saturday.  Well, we’re just kidding with the rib-digging, and wish the Red Wolves the best.  Next up for Tulsa, wouldn’t you know it, is premier American rival #13 UCF on 3 October.

#3 Oklahoma hosts Kansas State Saturday morning at 11 AM, and we’re counting on them to get this game started before any PCR tests start marauding the land screwing everything up for us.  We’ve been trying not to strain anything over the stream of ominous rumors about COVID in Manhattan, but the skies look clear as of this writing.  It’s not entirely clear from out in the cheap seats that the Cats will have the full roster they’d prefer, which hurt them some last week.  The Sooners seem to be healthy enough.  They’re giving 28, but we’re not taking.  Still: Big 12 is back in the HOUSE.

#15 Oklahoma State hosts West Virginia, Pride of the Big 12, in the afternoon slot on Saturday, and isn’t giving as much as you might have thought two weeks ago.  Pokes were sloppy, lost Spencer Sanders, and couldn’t get Chuba Hubbard started in the sluggish win against Tulsa last week (to give TU their due, the Golden H defense was in fighting form), whereas the Mountaineers were shooting fish in a barrel at home against hapless Eastern Kentucky.  We understand Sanders, with his ankle injury, is still a question mark for Saturday, so the Cowboy give of 6 is by no means pessimistic.  This one will be no gimme for OK-State.

Navy had a truly fun comeback at Tulane last week for a 27-24 win, and will meet Air Force next Saturday for the first of the Commanders’ Cup matches.  Preview to follow in due course.

#22 Army will be abroad at #14 Cincinnati, which let Austin Peay score 20 points in a 55-20 win last week, which we’re just saying.  Bearcats give 14; we might drop in in the 3Q to see if we think Army’s going to cover.

We’re cautiously optimistic that Virginia Tech is actually going to host NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) Saturday night, for, like, football and everything.  Signs point to yes as of now.  This will be the Hokies’ first game of the season, and the first we’ll get to see of a post-Bud Foster Hokie D.  Justin Hamilton, the new DC (a VT alum who played for Cleveland and Washington), will have some stepping up to do. We’re gratified that he’ll have LBs Ashby, Hollifield, and Tisdale back from the 2019 corps, portending strong tackling and a smattering of sacks.  He may need a fancy nickname to distinguish him from the Boss-in-Chief, Justin Fuente, who unbelievably is now back for his fifth season.  Time doesn’t fly; it blasts off like a rocket.

On offense, it looks like the Hokies will go with Hendon Hooker as starting QB, but we understand they “plan to play Braxton Burmeister a lot.”  This could be interesting, although it strikes us as unsettling.  Didn’t start out knowing a lot about Burmeister, but Hooker can throw and scramble, and has rapport with go-to WRs Tayvion Robinson and Tre Turner, among a handful of skill players returning from last year.  The O-line looks a little shifty, which isn’t unusual for the first week of play but may disrupt the rapport a bit.

Still, we’re hopeful.  Just going to have to see these guys play.  (ACCN has been added to our cable lineup, so we’re hopeful there too.)  The transfer squad looks good on paper; WR Changa Hodge, transferring from Villanova with some impressive stats, looks like one to watch, although we didn’t see him in the depth chart that came out this week.  Hokies give 11.

Finally.  #6 LSU hosts Mississippi State Saturday afternoon, and can get to work edging its way up the totem pole.  Much will depend on the arm of QB Myles Brennan, an LSU veteran finally making his start after backing up Joe Burrow.  We’re not as familiar with Brennan as Tiger fans, but we believe Coach O that he’s got a howitzer for an arm.  With the young-trending O-line shwacked by COVID positives a month ago, and losing practice time, we hope Brennan will excel at extending plays and throwing expeditiously, at least until his protection evens out.

Biletnikoff winner WR Ja’Marr Chase has left the building, of course.  It’s hard to blame the players for making the NFL break, especially in these trying times.  He’ll be sorely missed, but Brennan has a horse in returning Terrace Marshall, and some very promising if untested talent in freshman phenom Kayshon Boutte (who apparently is going to start) and towering TE Kole Taylor.  All in all, the receiver corps, although lacking “names” at the moment, is pretty deep.  Going to have to see who breaks out from the backfield.

As for the defense, the word, of course, is Pelini (Bo-type, one each).  Dave Aranda is now cracking the whip from the center seat at Baylor, and we wish him well.  It basically feels like there’s no need to say any more.  Pelini is generally accredited a defensive genius, taking the 4-3 to the Pi and multiplying it in his head by 10 to the 23rd, but he also has an awful lot of freshmen to go with his handful of returning line stalwarts.  So we’ll see.  LSU gives 16.5.

TCU hosts Iowa State on 26 September.  The Frogs are favored by 3, but they’ve got some offensive challenges, for sure.  It’s their defense that will pull them through; even if the Cyclones don’t spend the game hurting themselves when they have the ball, as they did last week, TCU had one of the top 2 Ds in the conference last year in most categories, and brings back a good balance of players.  The 2019 defense walked away with the secondary performance stats; top 2019 corner Jeff Gladney is a Minnesota Viking now, but junior Noah Daniels and sophomore Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson are stepping in ably as starting CBs (though Hodges-Tomlinson is undeniably on the short side, at 5’9”).  Dynamic duo Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington return at safety.

On offense, there’s no getting around the juniority of QB Matthew Downing, a (redshirt) sophomore making his first start for the Frogs behind center.  Max Duggan, previously expected to start, was diagnosed with a heart issue in the summer and has only recently rejoined the team for practices.  He’ll be in a back-up role this season.  Downing, who seems to have a fine arm, is described as an “NFL style quarterback,” in college ball usually the euphemistic way of saying “doesn’t run, cocoons in pocket.”  We’ll hope they grow some good protection from his very young line.

That said, TCU has an experienced RB in Emari Demercado and a promising yard-cruncher in freshman RB Zach Evans (although it’s not clear he’s going to start).  Taye Barber is back at WR, always a plus.

Top 10

#1 Clemson has the week off after that exhausting outing against The Citadel.

#2 Alabama is at Mizzou giving 29.

#4 Georgia (-24.5) is at Arkansas.

#5 Florida (eh?) is at Ole Miss giving 12.5.

#7 Notre Dame and Wake Forest have been Solemnly Postponed.

Auburn and Texas are tied in the AP for #8: Auburn gives 7 hosting #23 Kentucky, and Texas is a 19-point favorite at Texas Tech, where the ‘Horns and the Raiders will be duking it out in their fangled Storied Rivalry for the Chancellor’s Spurs, a gaudy pair of ornaments if we’ve ever seen one.

The Chancellor’s Spurs: not only handsome but a powerful trophy. Wikipedia: By Uttechgirls – Template:This is from my work computer, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

There being no number 9 for us this week, #10 Texas A&M (-29.5) hosts Vanderbilt.

We look forward to seeing this ranking sorted out in a more decent and orderly manner within 2-3 weeks.

Best of the rest

Honestly, we seem to follow most of the best teams anyway, one way or another.  In other fare this week, we’ll be keeping an eye throughout the season on the American’s UCF, which heads to East Carolina (granted, the Purple Pirates suck) giving 25.5.

For heaven only knows what reason, Texas State will be at Boston College, the latter giving 18, which just shows you.  You can catch it on ESPN3.  We’re not saying it will be a good game; it just has a Twilight Zone feel to it from here.  You’ve got to give Sun Belt credit for rousting up games in an off year.

We wouldn’t miss Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) at Baylor (-18.5) for the world, and #16 Tennessee giving 3.5 at South Carolina (Motto: The Other USC) should have its moments.

It all rounds off with #12 Miami (Da U) hosting Florida State for leg 1 of the Florida rivalry series in the marquee slot on Saturday evening.  Hurricanes give 11.  We’re not sanguine about FSU giving them a game, but then, we don’t really think Da U is #12 either.

Other ranks

Our other-ranks teams all remain down for the 2020 count.  Merchant Marine, however, is showing a bit of life since last week, with an intriguing “football” date – 14 November 2020 – and a #BeatCoastGuard hashtag newly displayed on their athletic department page.  This seems like a portent.  We’ll keep you posted.

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.

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