Football Follies 2020: NCAA week 9

Football Follies 2020: NCAA week 9
Kansas State WR #88 Philip Brooks, all 5'7" 167 pounds of him, runs a Kansas punt in for the first score of the 2020 Siunflower Showdown 24 Oct. Fox Sports video via Big XII, YouTube

And now we’re dying here because the MAC is back!  Toledo will be hosting Bowling Green on Wednesday evening, 4 November, and we plan to go out Tuesday night and do some undocumented shopping and social-justice arson to obtain a big-screen TV in preparation.

We will, of course, put in a suitable number of hours on Tuesday first, faithfully refraining from even hinting that anyone might be in the same Zip code as “winning his race” for office.  That’s going to be pretty tedious for ALCON (all concerned) here at our LU Election Night thread, so we’re counting on the mainstream media to make plenty of weird faces for us, resulting in entertaining video clips, and on Joe Biden to emit unintelligible sounds resulting in same.

But enough entertainment criticism.  On to the good stuff.  We’ve got a choice two-fer tonight, and it only gets better from there.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is at Maryland as we type, and it’s a shootout so far.  Terps are actually up 21-14 in the 2Q.  We’ll see how well that holds up.

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Inner Circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is finally getting to host a game this evening, when East Carolina’s tattered pirate ship heaves into town.  We regret to be operating under the handicap of a 19-point give on the Tulsa side, which never turns out well.  But we are optimistic about the outcome, if not about a cover.  In spite of the recent Arctic onslaught, it should be pretty seasonable in Chapman Stadium, with temps in the 50s at kickoff and dropping to the upper 40s as the game rolls along.

New #24 Oklahoma will be in Lubbock Saturday night to have a go at 2-3 Texas Tech, which has been posting energetic losses except for a creampuff clash with Houston Baptist in week 1 (won by merely 35-33), and a win over West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, last week, unexpectedly.  In other words, it’s just the kind of stupid situation in which the Sooners, favored by 15, like to lose the sock they’ve got all their stuff in and come home all banged up.  We’re shaking the totem vigorously at this one.  With your shields or on them, Sooners.  And if you’re on them, don’t think we’re paying for one of those hifalutin multi-event funerals with, like, a music video.  Pine box city.  You’re #24 and we’ve got our pride to think about.

#6 Oklahoma State has another major test on Saturday hosting Texas.  Texas may have dropped from the Top 25, but they always play tough in Stillwater.  The Pokes didn’t look so all-fired dominant over ISU last week that we anticipate an easy time.  The oddsquad has the feelz, showing OK-State giving 4.  We can live with that.

Navy has another tough one coming up in Dallas on Saturday, taking on American foe #22 SMU, which has been playing well enough to pretty much merit the ranking.  The Mustangs give 16, and that seems reasonable given Navy’s continued rebuilding on defense.  We’d love to think otherwise, but we don’t see Navy slowing SMU down much.

Army has a rare week off from rolling the caissons over the FCS, and will host Air Force for the next leg of the Commanders’ Cup on 7 November.

Air Force has a big MWC outing on Saturday, hosting #25 Boise State in Colorado Springs.  The Bronco give is 8, which is a nod to Air Force and its offensive firepower.  The Falcons didn’t get it done last week in a surprisingly defensive battle with a better-than-expected San Jose State, but they do bring weapons.

Newly de-ranked Virginia Tech will be at Louisville Saturday, giving 4 and working on some breathing room with Miami (Da U), Clemson, and the Storied Rivalry with UVA still coming up.  Could have done without the defensive disaster with Wake Forest last week.  We hear they did eventually track down the Hokie D, stuck in some small town in West Virginia after a misguided attempt at social-distancing.  Hazards of a pandemic model of the “new normal.”

Nevada, whom we congratulate on the hard-fought win over Wyoming out of the starting gate, brings up the rear for us Saturday night, meeting flea-ridden UNLV in their Storied Rivalry  for the Fremont Cannon, the hands-down awesomest cannon in all footballdom.

The Fremont Cannon, righteously adorned in Nevada blue. Wikipedia

We feel the Mountain West has made a good choice, setting this rivalry game early enough that it was likely to escape Solemn Postponement or Melancholy Cancellation.  It just wouldn’t be right to have a season without the battle for the cannon.  The Wolf Pack is giving 8, not surprising in light of UNLV’s lopsided loss to San Diego State last week (which featured an anemic total-offense tally for the pus-encrusted Rebels of 186 yards. Yikes).  Blue the Cannon!

LSU and Auburn go into their Storied Rivalry game (in Auburn) on Saturday unranked, uncharacteristically wobbly, and hungrier than all get-out.  The LSU give of 2 tells the story; when the Tigers ain’t burning bright, it’s the beast-mode bettors who have to weigh in to move the needle.  Oklahoma fans respect those LSU bettors, and let me tell you, that’s a “get.”  If the Sooners were the Titanic, Sooner bettors would have them giving 17 to the iceberg.

The LSU-Auburn rivalry is sometimes called the Tiger Bowl, but everyone’s too cool on both sides to make a big deal of it, especially in these pandemic times.  Still, it’s an ancient if not continuous rivalry, and affords us a fun moment of historical eventhood captured on camera.

LSU and Auburn meet in 1902 for the Tiger Bowl. The spectator accommodations were a bit less commodious back then.  LSU Libraries Digital Collections via Wikipedia

Kansas State, now #16 after blowing out Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”), will be in Morgantown to take on West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, in the early slot on Saturday.  The oddscritters’ take on this one, in which they have WVU giving 5, might look pretty, well, odd; but K-State’s been through some rough stuff, losing starting QB Skylar Thompson for the season to injury a couple of weeks ago, and losing a former teammate this week to an untimely death under very sad circumstances.  We won’t elaborate here, but it has to be a lot to process.  We’ll be pulling for the Wildcats, their freshman QB, and their stretched-to-the-limit git-er-done D tomorrow.

TCU will be at Baylor on Saturday for the 116th meeting of their Storied Rivalry.  The Frogs are giving 1, and we can’t say we blame anyone for that state of affairs.  Neither team has gotten much started so far this season.  We regret to report that the main event of note in their rivalry’s very extensive history appears to be the death on the sideline of Coach Jim Pittman in 1971, the only sideline, in-game death of a coach in college football history.  We feel this very fine rivalry would benefit from adopting a garage-sale trophy to liven it up a bit.  Perhaps a tasteful outboard motor, or a beat-up restrung guitar from Goodwill.

Our beloved MAC stalwart Toledo starts play on Wednesday, 4 November, and we can already foresee how ready we’re going to be for that after whatever surreal pageant 3 November plays out for us.  Toledo is storming out of the gate to host Bowling Green in their Storied Rivalry, the Battle of I-75.  It’s the ultimate in bad to have an interstate highway in the name of your rivalry, and this one also requites us in 2020 with a 40-40 all-time wins record, and exactly 4 tie games, which is just freaky.

Last year’s BGSU game was an awful meltdown for the Rockets when (then) QB Mitch Guadagnini came out with a season-ending injury.  We can be more hopeful on Wednesday, although I’m seeing that as of today, the starting QB pick is still up in the air.  Eli Peters, who stepped in behind Guadagnini last year, brings experience, but if he hasn’t gotten the nod by now it sounds like Jason Candle is holding out for Carter Bradley or Dequan Finn.  That could be a vulnerability, along with the relative lack of names in the receiver corps.  Bryant Koback and Shakif Seymour are back to keep the running game rolling, a major plus.

The Rocket D got a fair number of big plays and big stops in 2019, but had consistency problems.  CB Samuel Womack, an all-FBS standout in 2019, is back for his senior season, another major plus.  I wasn’t overly impressed with the tackling last year, but am glad to see LB Saeed Holt and DE Jamal Hines are back this year, as both have been workhorses at stopping the run and pressuring the line.

The oddsquad doesn’t have the MAC games up yet, which is going to plague us for full-service coverage of midweek football.  The whole darn MAC is charging out on the 4th, by the way: all 12 of them, in six games, with a might roar.  Major style points.

Wyoming – last but never least – is over on FS1 at this very moment hosting Hawaii in their Storied Rivalry battle for the Paniolo (“Cowboy”) Trophy.  Hawaii was giving 1 at the outset, but Wyoming is up 10-0 after five brisk minutes of play.

Whereabouts documented: the Paniolo Trophy, photographed recently by the University of Wyoming Athletic Department. (Univ. of Wyoming)

Tulsa is suffering at ECU’s hands at the moment, and we need to give them our full attention, so let’s scope out the rest of our smorgasbord for the weekend.

Top 10

#1 Clemson gives 32 hosting Boston College.

#2 Alabama (-33) hosts Mississippi State for their Storied Rivalry, the Battle for Highway 82, which essay in newfangledry misses the careless cool mark of the I-75 rivalry, and just sounds like (a) something Antifa would cook up with an Antifa Evil Twin, or (b) trying too hard.  All we can say is, it’s a good thing they’re Alabama and Mississippi State, and they can carry it off.

New #3 Ohio State bags the marquee slot on Saturday night and our game of the week, heading to #18 Penn State for a major-major face-off.  This is of course a Storied Rivalry, but it’s mainly an opportunity for Ohio State to perform a haka in front of Clemson and Alabama.  Buckeyes give 8.  Have your popcorn ready.

#4 Notre Dame is at Georgia Tech giving 18 and still waiting to play someone.

New #5 Georgia is giving 13 at Kentucky.

Sudden #7 Cincinnati (-4) hosts Memphis, and although we’ve got nothing against the Bearcats, we wonder what the computers are thinking here.

#8 Texas A&M, having dropped a slot to Cincinnati, gives 15 hosting Arkansas.  That one could be interesting.  The Hogs are angling for a breakout, and this isn’t the least likely spot for one.

New #9 Wisconsin has had a Melancholy Cancellation with Nebraska.

#10 Florida hosts Mizzou, donating 15.

Best of the rest

Du-uh.  Michigan State at #13 Michigan has to lead off the parade here.  Saturday morning, Storied Rivalry, sunny and 40 degrees – what could go wrong?  Blue gives 23 after the Spartans’ alarming performance last week, but we’re not taking points.

In other storied Rivalry action, Purdue will be at Illinois to battle for the Purdue Cannon.  We applaud them for the symbolism, but a little bitty model cannon mounted on a wooden base gets a bit lost on the same weekend the Fremont Cannon will be out showing its stuff over in Nevada.  The Boilermakers give 4.

The Purdue Cannon trophy. Via Twitter

#15 North Carolina will be at Virginia for the South’s Oldest Rivalry, a Storied Rivalry heading for its 124th meeting and stretching back to 1892.  It may not be the absolute best bet for football quality this year, but that’s not always the priority.  Tar Heels give 4.

If you want to get in on a first-ever, Western Kentucky will be at #11 BYU (-27) on Saturday evening.  And if you want to just take a flyer on one, UCF (-2) at Houston in the American has possibilities.

Other ranks

It’s officially 15 days to the Storied Rivalry match in Div III between Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

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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