It’s week 10, and finally the PAC-12 comes in on little cat feet, because that’s how they do. Well, it’s just not the same without them, so we’re glad they’re showing up.
To the extent they are showing up, of course. We’ve had quite the rash of sick-outs for this weekend, and two of the big ones are Arizona at Utah and Washington at Cal (Melancholy Cancellations). If they’re going to show up just to leave regrets, that will get a bit tedious. Maybe somebody’s keeping a cash flow going that way. Or eligibility or something; we haven’t been giving it the attention we should.
There are others to report for our Inner Circle, which we’ll get to below, along with the hot takes on the Inner Circle matches that have already bestrewn the balm of Gilead on an otherwise hideous week steamrolled and jackhammered by politics.
Meanwhile, we had no idea Buffalo would look so … real, on Wednesday night. Kind of wish the MAC had been playing earlier. We note that #9 BYU blistered the snot out of #21 BSU on Friday, whereas #11 Miami (Da U) seemed to have no defense versus NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”). Verdict: BYU may move up a notch.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, has been Solemnly Postponed with Navy. This is a big disappointment to TU and Navy fans. They normally play each other every season now, both being in the same AAC division, so there’s a reasonable chance they will actually have a game before all’s said and done.
New #19 Oklahoma hosts Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) in the Saturday afternoon slot, with the Sooners giving 37. Consider the totem shaken all over that one, with a big shovel-full of gravel. WR Jadon Haselwood seems to have smoke-signaled that he’ll be “back,” although we haven’t seen anything official on that.
COVID survivor Les Miles (who coached at OK-State in separate stints in the 1990s and 2000s, helping the Pokes get upset wins over the Sooners on a couple of occasions) was his usual Delphic self in the pre-game chitchat, gratifying Oklahomans with some patented patter: “’That’s a great place. It’s a historic field,’ Miles opined [about Oklahoma Memorial Stadium] as his Kansas squad gets ready to play at No. 19 Oklahoma. ‘It sounds very much like the inside of a jet engine. That crowd’s loud.’” With the low-count COVID crowds, the Sooner noise level doesn’t quite reach its usual volume, but maybe OU can climb another notch in the rankings. (We want to hear Les’s inside-a-jet-engine story, which is bound to be a doozy.)
New #14 Oklahoma State, bruised from the encounter with Texas, heads to Kansas State on Saturday to try to recover some ranking. The Wildcats had a most unfortunate meltdown last week at West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, and OSU is, soberly, a better team than the Mountaineers. That doesn’t mean they’ll play like it, of course. Pokes give 11.
Army and visitor-wannabes Air Force have been Solemnly Postponed. We’re not sure how this will be handled: Army has the usual massive, slackers’ time off between Georgia Southern on 21 November and Navy on 12 December, but Air Force’s dance card is full with Mountain West foes Colorado State and Utah State on 26 November and 3 December, respectively. Both teams are engaged with real opponents (Army with Tulane, Air Force with Wyoming) next week. Not like little FCS shnooks you can just climb out the window and flee from. So we’ll have to see what they pull out of a hat on this one.
As an aside, West Point will be hosting Navy for the annual Storied Rivalry on the 12th, due to the seating limitations in Pennsylvania.
Virginia Tech hosts #25 Liberty, and by rights should send the cheeky Flames back south of the 25 hashmark, as reflected in the 19-point Hokie advantage. The VT punter is probably bigger and faster than his Liberty counterpart, much less everyone else in the lineup. But Liberty hasn’t shown badly in its outings so far (it just hasn’t really played anyone either), so no gimmes here for an inconsistent Hokie squad.
Nevada, we are gratified to report, knocked off Utah State 34-9 on Thursday in a downright fun game featuring some impressive flashes of offense from the Wolf Pack, if less impressive defense against the Aggie run. Carson Strong heaved a couple of big howlers to Romeo Doubs for longball TDs, with Doubs indeed hanging yards and points all over the USU secondary throughout the night. Given USU’s inability to close a deal in spite of running the Pack D all over the field, Nevada was in charge for most of the game. New Mexico next week.
LSU has the weekend off, to prepare for Alabama next Saturday. ‘Nuff said.
TCU did get some satisfaction with Baylor last week (33-23), and will try for more on Saturday in a Storied Rivalry match hosting Texas Tech. After the trouncing from Oklahoma, TTU’s stock is down a bit, so the Frogs are favored by 10 in their house. We’ll see. We don’t know that we’d take points. TCU’s got the D to plug the Red Raiders up, but there could be some fun offense here. The teams play for the Saddle Trophy, which like so many cowboy-themed game tokens has a history of going missing. You’d be surprised how prevalent that pattern seems to be.
Toledo gave us another fun weekday ride on Wednesday, standing out among the debuting MAC squads for manhandling Bowling Green something fierce. Eli Peters did start behind center, and lobbed a 42-yard mohunker to Bryce Mitchell for a TD in the 3Q. Peters and his receivers looked comfortably synchronized in the shorter yardage game. The Rockets crushed the Eagles with lopsided yardage and ball control, and the three BGSU turnovers didn’t help. Toledo has Western Michigan coming up on Wednesday (11 November), and that’ll be a big one. WMU steamrolled Akron Wednesday night 58-13, pretty much on schedule.
Wyoming did come away with the Paniolo Trophy back in the mists of last week, but couldn’t hang on to top Colorado State in the Storied Rivalry in Fort Collins Thursday night. The three turnovers were as ill-timed as turnovers typically are; Xazavian Valladay scampered around for nearly 150 yards, with effectiveness partially blunted by the darn turnovers, and the Pokes out-earned the Rams in a number of stats. Just not the one that counts.
The Fun Run at least seems to have gone well. The weather looks like it was perfect. The Bronze Boot was ready for its close-up at the state line.
As mentioned above, Wyoming will host Air Force on the 14th.
#1 Clemson at #4 Notre Dame will presumably be the game of the week. Trevor Lawrence is emerging from COVID isolation, but reportedly won’t make the game. Back-up QB DJ Uiagalelei did well for the Tigers last week, but obviously they’d rather have Lawrence if it were possible to face Notre Dame’s respectable D. This is the Arsh’s big chance to make their case for the Final Four, and Clemson is vulnerable, so of course a lot is riding on it. Tigers give 4.
#2 Alabama is off, prepping for LSU next week.
#3 Ohio State (-37) hosts Rutgers.
Also bucking for game of the week is #5 Georgia hosting #8 Florida. If we had our pick, the Final Four would be Clemson, ‘Bama, Ohio State, and Georgia, and we wouldn’t need all these games of the week and the irritable nail-biting. But we have to let the process play out.
This game, of course, is a Storied Rivalry for the Okefenokee Oar, and we need our traditions this year, even if the Oar probably has to wear a mask and be hosed down with Lysol before the victor can hoist it in celebration. Georgia gives 5.
New #6 Cincinnati thumped Memphis last week and hosts Houston Saturday, giving 10.
New #7 Texas A&M continues wandering around aimlessly in the Top 10 with the others suspiciously vaulted into it by COVID-ity, and heads for South Carolina (motto: The Other USC), riding an Aggie edge of 8.
#9 BYU, as mentioned, shwacked Boise State Friday night.
#10 Wisconsin has found that the key to remaining in the Top 10 is having all your games cancelled, like the Melancholy Cancellation with Purdue on Saturday. But we think the Badgers will be getting competition from Oregon any day now.
Best of the rest
Speaking of which, Oregon debuts at #12 and hosts Stanford in the marquee slot on Saturday night as the PAC-12 meowls into action. The Duck give seems to have settled out right around 11.5 at this writing. Here we go…
We kind of think Indiana at #13 is a flash in the pan, but hey, we could be wrong. They’re hosting #23 Michigan (which is still in the Top 25 only because they’re Michigan), with Blue giving 2 because, well, they’re Michigan. Anyway, the game kicks us off Saturday morning, so don’t miss it.
Some folks will get all excited about Arizona State at #20 USC (-10.5), which is competing with Michigan-Indiana in the same time slot, so settle that hash as you prefer. Either one will probably be fun.
One that does kind of intrigue us is Fresno State at UNLV, mainly (OK, entirely) because Allegiant Stadium wants $450 a seat for this one. The Bulldogs give 10, but the lice-plagued Rebels stink so badly that seems a bit weak. It’s a weird combo: Vegas, limp spread, MWC also-rans, NFL-level ticket price. It’s 2020. (Maybe it’s a typo. Maybe someone ran it through a Dominion Voting Systems machine.)
In Storied Rivalries, North Carolina will be at Duke giving 10. There’s not a lot of rivalry action this week though.
We’re proud to report, however, that UMass will be taking the field again on Saturday at #16 Marshall. The Thundering Herd gives 44, and at 5-0 has been pretty much dominating C-USA. But the Minutemen, nothing daunted, have also lined up Florida Atlantic and Liberty for follow-on engagements, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.
It’s officially 8 days to the Storied Rivalry match in Div III between Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.