Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 1

Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 1
The Fremont Cannon, righteously adorned in Nevada blue. Wikipedia


(Don’t mind us; we’re just jumping in feet first and splashing waves all over the football that’s already in progress.  The Big Plan was to be way ahead of the game, all replenished with last-minute updates and insights, but that will just have to develop with the season at this point.  You know what to do, noble correspondents: chime in if you got ’em.)

Instead of things proceeding decently and in order, we’re crashing into the middle of a ridiculous FBS-losing-to-FCS party, in which our own University of Tulsa has already done pioneering work.  What can we say, we’re weak and undisciplined.

Joining Tulsa and UNLV in this august club is now Colorado State, which lost to South Dakota State (FCS, Missouri Valley (motto: Whatever That Means)) 42-23 on Friday.  It’s no wonder; with a team name like the Jackrabbits, SDSU has to either be a scourge of the FBS, or a burger special with homemade barbecue sauce and 1960s-era salad dressing.  (Actually, SDSU is ranked #4 in the FCS Coaches poll.)

Noting, however, that we expect North Carolina to shortly not be #10 anymore, we congratulate our own Virginia Tech Hokies on a totally fun win over the Tar Heels Friday night.  It may not have been a scoring fest, and we could have done without some dropped balls here and there, but the defense for the most part was boffo, and the offense promises to be more game-resilient than intermittent, or whatever the sustainability jargon is at the moment.  Tech is back in the HOUSE.

It’s Labor Day weekend, so let us labor.

Inner Circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, had an owwie out of the gate Thursday evening versus visiting UC-Davis (FCS, Big Sky), which will put paid to hopes of cracking the top 25 for now.  The game was only on ESPN+ so we have so far not seen even 10 seconds of the Hurricane in action.  We’ll check into it when the world of endlesswars and cartoonish Iranian naval ventures has stopped evanescing at quite such a brisk pace.  It’s not much of an excuse to note that UC-Davis, which used to suck ostrich eggs, is #21 in the FCS Coaches poll.  Presumably the Aggies’ stock will rise off this.

#2 Oklahoma will face Tulane on Saturday, in just a few hours here, although not in Tulane’s ritzy, preschool-aged stadium.  Due to the devastation of Ida, the game will be in Norman.  In these early-season overdog matches, the Sooners can always use all the advantages they can get.  OU gives 32.

Oklahoma State hosts Missouri State (FCS, Missouri Valley (motto: Whatever That Means)) Saturday evening, and had better watch itself, because the Bears, although sub-ranked, got 39 votes in the week 1 FCS Coaches poll, and are perennial players in FCS ball.  We are gratified to report, at any rate, that Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy has had no recent political T-shirt-and-abject-slavering-apology wrecks that we’re aware of, so at least the lingering bad taste of that can continue to recede.  His coiffure remains undisturbed as well.

Navy hosts Marshall on Saturday, on the hunt for the first win since 17 October 202.  The Thundering Herd’s got the odds nod by 3.5.  (This vast insight void is woeful.  We’re blaming it on Biden and Trump, just to trawl with a big net.  We assume Navy has a quarterback this year, but for all we know, they’re stuck with a combination cornerback-placekicker or something equally Navy-esque behind center.)

Army heads to Georgia State for an Atlanta outing with the Panthers, who are giving right around 2.5.

Air Force shouldn’t be overly challenged hosting Lafayette (FCS, Patriot League) on Saturday afternoon, but we’re counting no Falcons before they peck their way out of the eggshell at this point.

Virginia Tech – what can we say, a barn-burner of a Storied Rivalry in Blacksburg Friday night, and a hoot and a half.  What a great start for the Hokies.  There are a few kinks to work out – we’d lose the pattern of unpreparedness for the screen left and boogie the Tar Heels kept running on VT all night – but the coverage in the deep secondary was awesome.  UNC didn’t get to heave it downfield very much; nowhere to go.  VT QB Burmeister has a most promising arm, if just a touch ill-calibrated yet, and clearly can think while moving his feet.  High hopes for the year after a satisfying 17-10 win.  It wouldn’t have shown us so much if the score had been run up more by the 4Q.  Tech can tend a one-possession lead this year against an ACC peer.  And way fewer penalties than last year’s sloppy Hokies.  We’re hooked.

Nevada will be in Berkeley to face Cal Saturday evening.  Cal’s only favored by 3, and we’re anxious to see what the Pack is bringing, especially after Fresno State’s smokin’ opener.  The Mountain West has got promise so far.

LSU, #16 in week 1, is at UCLA Saturday evening, and we’ll stop pretending to be blasé about that after the Bruins’ trouncing of Hawaii last week.  They might just be a quality opponent.  LSU’s odds-nod has closed to 2.5.

TCU hosts Duquesne (FCS, Northeast) Saturday evening, regrettably on ESPN+.  Git ’em, Frogs.

Toledo hosts Norfolk State (FCS, Mid-Eastern), another Saturday evening outing, as the Spartans angle to position themselves for the next FBS accession window.

Wyoming charges out of the chute hosting Montana State (FCS, Big Sky) on Saturday afternoon.

Top 10

#1 Alabama (-19.5) will be at #14 Miami (Da U) for an afternoon bout on Saturday.  We’ll see if the Tar Heel-Hokie outing has galvanized some sizzle into the Hurricanes.  Miami wasn’t quite as much as All That in 2020, but also wasn’t much less either.  It feels like time for a breakout.

#3 Clemson (-2.5) hosting #5 Georgia Saturday is the no-brainer game of the week, and of course the marquee-slot prestige match (the ABC Saturday evening broadcast, for those joining us in progress) to boot.

#4 Ohio State downed Minnesota on Thursday in a respectable, Big-10-worthy 45-31 scorefest.  If Oklahoma doesn’t kick Tulane all the way through the earth to Nepal, there may be a minor shuffle in the top 5 when the weekend is done.

#6 Texas A&M (-29) should have little difficulty with Kent State Saturday evening.  We promise we won’t keep saying “Golden Flashes” over and over.  When you’re the Golden Hurricane, one each, that’s not even interesting.

#7 Iowa State hosts in-state rival Northern Iowa (FCS, Missouri Valley) for an afternoon square-off.

#8 Cincinnati (-23) will host Miami (OH) midday Saturday for a Buckeye State shootout.

#9 Notre Dame at Florida State will give us some rare Sunday NCAA action, for those tuning in to ABC at 5:30 PM EDT.  As usual, Notre Dame finds itself in the top 10 but giving only 7 to a doldrum-mired Seminole squad, one of those feats only the Arsh princelings can pull off.

Best of the rest

Louisville at Ole Miss (-10) grabs top honors just for playing in the Monday Night Football slot on 6 September.

Worth noting so far:  Fresno State is a player again this year.  The Bulldogs absolutely destroyed UConn in Week Zed.  Not that everybody doesn’t leave bruises all over the Huskies these days, but this was a massacre.  Fresno State faces #11 Oregon on Saturday, and we wouldn’t advise the Ducks, donating 20 to the cause, to sleep through the 1Q in this one.

AAC’s Central Florida topped Boise State Thursday, 36-31.  UCF will certainly remain in contention in the American, after a somewhat lackluster 2020.

We can’t say the same for East Carolina, which went down to Appalachian State 33-19.

C-USA’s (New Blood) Charlotte pulled off 31-28 over Duke Friday evening, while the world was tuned in to the action in Blacksburg.

Upcoming, we have a Big-10 rooty-tooter in #19 Penn State at #12 Wisconsin (-5.5) on Saturday morning.

YouTube videos

(It’s all their fault.)

Western Michigan gets an opportunity to black Michigan (-16.5) Blue in the same time slot.

For connoisseur’s interest in the game, Stanford at Kansas State (-3.5) holds promise:  two teams that have lost about a half step off their cruising speed in the last few years, with a nicely matched opportunity to get the mojo back.  The Blood Orange and Wildcats have played once before, in 2016.

Oregon State, meanwhile, will be at Purdue for the two teams’ second meeting ever, after a hiatus since 1967.  Purdue gives 7.  Right?  I know.  We love week 1 around here.

#23 Louisiana-Lafayette, or U-LA-LA, heads to #21 Texas for what we kind of expect to be a rout of the Ragin’ Cajuns.  But the Longhorns have been endlessly inventive finding ways to hurt themselves in recent years, so we’re suspending judgment until we see them in action.  They’re giving 9 at the moment.

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State hosts West Florida (Gulf South), the most recent Div II champions, on Saturday at noon.  It’s looking like lower 90s and humid as all get-out in Lake Charles.  West Florida won’t be beanbag, but McNeese’s defense is anticipated to be the Bomb this year, with a front four loaded for piercing armor.  The Cowboys’ll need it next week for sure, when they take on LSU.

In Div II, Slippery Rock, #5 in the Coaches Poll, kicked 2021 off with an out-of-conference win at Wayne State on 2 September.  Well done, Rock!

We are gratified to report as well that Central Oklahoma knocked off MIAA foe Missouri Western on Thursday, 24-20.  Nicely done.

In Div III, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN), takes an out-of-conference flier hosting Wabash College Saturday evening.  Rain and about 70F are predicted for the 7:00 PM kickoff.

Last but never least, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, NY) rolled over FDU-Florham on 3 September in an out-of-conference crusher.  We don’t have time this week, but we’re going to make you hear about FDU-Fordham (Madison, NJ) as soon as we can manage.

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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