This year, the Saturday of NCAA week 2 falls on 9/11. There will probably be some amount of political shenanigans accompanying that juncture, but we frankly couldn’t care less. Hoots awa’ wi’ ye and yer political shenanigans, young fellers-me-lads. Go. Go the now. We’ll have our 9/11 in decency, and our football in the same.
We pause to note that the worthless Dallas Cowboys once again gave up a last-minute lead to lose the season opener on Thursday night to the Bucs. Now back to our policy of ignoring the NFL until it comes to its senses.
On to baccalaureate pigskin. As we type, Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) is at #17 Coastal Carolina with a 9-7 lead over the home squad in the 2Q. Meh. (Early lead squandered. Jayhawks go down 49-22. Chanticleers crow profanities, as seems to be their wont.) UTEP will be at Boise State later tonight (the Broncos now comfortably ahead by some 38 points in the 4Q).
Oh, and the Big 12 has up-voted four spanking new applicants to fill in for Oklahoma and Texas, if we’re all still here come 2025: Cincinnati, BYU, Houston, and Central Florida. The Big Poach is from the American, clearly.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is at Oklahoma State Saturday morning for a much-needed whuppin’. OK, yes, it’ll be interesting, as on paper TU has a shot after the week 1 reviews are in. In spite of the narrow 19-17 loss last week to FCS’s UC-Davis, Tulsa had a solid-to-excellent performance on the ground, on both sides of the ball. The Golden Hurricane fell apart in the air, however, on both sides of the ball, and was plagued by penalties and two interceptions tossed by new starting QB Davis Brin (a junior). OSU had a narrow 23-16 win over its own FCS opponent, Missouri State, and achieved that with sheer staying power in the air. The Poke ground attack was decidedly lackluster – a weakness into TU’s defensive strength. But of course the Cowboys’ air options are a big notch up from UC-Davis’s.
Saturday will be our first televised glimpse of either team this season (FS1, 11:00 AM CDT). We figure the oddsquad is about right, with OK-State giving 12.5.
#4 Oklahoma hosts Western Carolina (FCS, Southern), which lost the season opener to Eastern Kentucky and is generally in an excellent position to embarrass the heck out of the Sooners. (For those who don’t know our rituals, this deprecation is known as “shaking the totem.”) We will briefly mention that the WCU team is the Catamounts, because that’s as obligatory as saying “Blue Hose” and “Chanticleers” and other team names of excellence.
Navy and Air Force take the field Saturday afternoon for the first leg of the Commander’s trophy run, which is one game we expect to commemorate 9/11 with seemliness and honor. Poor Navy was underwhelming in week 1, whereas Air Force chalked up a nice win over Lafayette. We’d only dispute the oddsbubbas over the meager size of the Falcon give of 6.
Army kicks off early Saturday hosting Western Kentucky (C-USA New Blood) and giving 6.
Continuing the general theme of overdog’s choice, Virginia Tech will host Middle Tennessee (C-USA New Blood) on Saturday, donating 20.
Nevada, coming off a very nice, nail-biter win over Cal, hosts Idaho State (FCS, Big Sky), which lost last week to North Dakota.
LSU, descending from the top 25 for now after the bruising by the Bruins, hosts our very own FCS fave McNeese State for the long-delayed in-state match originally scheduled in 2020. We’re trying not to judge too early, and utter knee-jerk phrases about the loss of Dave Aranda being evident, but the Zouave D didn’t look like its old self last week, and we wonder about Saturday. The game looks to air on the SEC Network, so we hope to see it here. McNeese, of course, lost last week to Div II champ West Florida in a paroxysm of suckage for the Louisiana contingent of the Inner Circle.
TCU, victor over Duquesne last week, gets another Inner Circle shot at Cal, hosting the Golden Bears in Fort Worth on Saturday afternoon and giving 11.5.
Toledo, we are excited to report, after romping over Norfolk State, heads to #8 Notre Dame for a Saturday afternoon faceoff with the Arsh. You know how we feel every year about Notre Dame’s ranking. We don’t really expect Toledo to challenge it; the Arsh defense will be more successful than the hapless Spartans in corralling sophomore QB Carter Bradley, and the Rockets aren’t likely to get 14 of 49 points off blocked punts when it’s Notre Dame doing the punting. The game will be available on Peacock (NBC streaming), for the dedicated. Arsh give is 17.
Wyoming, meanwhile, takes another flyer this year in MAC territory meeting Northern Illinois in DeKalb at noon-thirty on Saturday. The Huskies edged out Georgia Tech last week, and although that hasn’t been hard for ACC teams of late, it may portend a certain je ne sais quoi to NIU’s 2021. We’re a touch surprised by the 6.5-point advantage for Wyoming in the line. But we’ll be cheering madly for the Pokes from Laramie.
#1 Alabama hosts Mercer (FCS, Southern) in what will clearly be the Laughably Surreal Mismatch of the Week. Not that Mercer doesn’t come in with a winning record. The Bears stomped Point University (NAIA) last week 69-0. So they know what it is to win. We think the Tide can take them, and hope Mercer leaves town with a well-deserved pallet of cash.
New #2 Georgia (-23.5) hosts U. Alabama-Birmingham.
New #3 Ohio State (-14.5) hosts #12 Oregon in what we can hope will be an excellent game, demonstrating that Oregon, although stuffed with talent, remains the Nuke Laloosh of the FBS, kind of all over the place and suffering permanently from First Half ADD.
#5 Texas A&M will be at Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”), giving 17.
It won’t be #6 Clemson’s get-well week, as the Tigers are hosting South Carolina State (FCS, MEAC), which lost in week 1 to Alabama A&M. Clemson faces a weak-schedule problem this season; last week’s clash with Georgia was pretty much get-well week for 2021, unless the current top 5 start taking pratfalls all over the place, or the ACC Atlantic suddenly takes off like a rocket. Either one could happen, of course.
#7 Cincinnati hosts Murray State (FCS, Ohio Valley) in a clash of titans. Murray State’s Racers knocked out Mississippi Valley State’s Delta Devils in week 1, which sounds like a timely coronavirus fable from here.
#9 Iowa State hosts #10 Iowa for what we, personally, think will be the game of the week, much surpassing the marquee game later on ABC (Washington at Michigan, neither of them ranked). ABC did have the foresight to snag the wild rumpus in Iowa, and it looks to pay off. Both teams showed tough chops in week 1 and are on a roll heading into their Storied Rivalry, in which the victor totes off the Cy-Hawk (Cyclones, Hawkeyes) Trophy.
It could be worse.
ISU gives 4.
Best of the rest
In further rivalry action, it’s hard to beat the rumble in Iowa, but Houston (-8) at Rice will be giving it a go. The Bayou Bucket trophy has big potential, but they had to go and mount it like it’s supposed to be something, which always kind of lets the air out of the cred.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) September 12, 2017
#21 Utah (-7) heads to BYU for their Storied Rivalry, one of the fabled Holy Wars. There’s no foncy trophy, but this Holy War was enlivened some 22 years ago by an incident in which a Utah cheerleader was attacked by a BYU fan and whaled on him for a while before they were separated by security.
During the 1999 edition of the Holy War, Utah recorded its fourth consecutive win in Provo. Early in the fourth quarter, Utah scored a touchdown when quarterback T.D. Crowshaw completed a four-yard-pass to Donny Utu to put Utah up 20–10. In celebration, Utah cheerleader Billy Priddis ran along the visitor’s sideline with a large “U” flag. A BYU fan who was later banned from the BYU campus, ran onto the sideline and tackled Priddis from behind. Priddis turned around and started punching the fan. He landed seven or eight punches before security separated them. About the incident, Priddis said, “There’s 65,000 fans here, does he think I’m not going to retaliate?”
New Mexico State will be at New Mexico (-19) for their Storied Rivalry as well, the notorious Rio Grande Rivalry. We love seeing any game scheduled to unfold in Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, which is one of our main places. The Lobos lead the series 72-33-5, but NMSU claims the biggest win, from 1917 when it was NM A&M and pulverized UNM 110-3.
Dragging up the rear, Stanford meets #14 USC (-17) in the Coliseum for an early-season chapter in their Storied Rivalry, broadcast as the Fox nightcap on Saturday. No tacky game tokens for this one.
#15 Texas (-7) will be at Arkansas, which should have some moments of eventhood in got-game terms.
In that marquee slot we were talking about, Michigan (-6.5) hosts Washington, which in a galaxy far, far away would be a big deal. Cycles do what they do.
Illinois is at Virginia (-10.5) on Saturday, for some reason, and we say live it up. The Illini could win this one.
Pitt (-3) at Tennessee isn’t to be sneezed at. It’s one of those weekends where not being sneezed at is an advantage; the A-choo Chorus is otherwise all cued up for the endless parade of overmatches.
Boston College (-37) will be at our part-time obsession UMass, although this one isn’t being televised.
West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, will host Long Island University (FCS, Northeastern), and we’re admiring the Sharks’ chutzpah. You go with your bad fins.
In FCS, we explained McNeese under “LSU” above. The Cowboys will have stories to dine out on for quite a while.
In Div II, Slippery Rock has slipped to #8 in the Coaches Poll, but with the week 1 win over Wayne State remains the top-ranked PSAC team (above Indiana (PA) and Kutztown). The Rock will be in East Stroudsburg Saturday to take on, wouldn’t you know it, PSAC foe East Stroudsburg, which took down Pace in an out-of-conference clash on 2 September. 70-ish and clear skies expected for the 6 PM (EDT) kickoff.
Central Oklahoma heads to Emporia, Kansas Saturday to meet Emporia State, an MIAA opponent. The ESU Hornets rolled over Oklahoma’s Northeastern State in Tahlequah last week, and as always will be a challenge for the Bronchos. Readers may remember that Al Feuerbach is a notable alumnus of Emporia State; fewer are probably aware that a serial sniper, Black Panther Mark Essex, also attended ESU for a semester just out of high school. Mr. Essex, who joined the Navy after his stint at Emporia State, eventually met an untimely end in 1973 in a standoff with New Orleans police.
We feel sure Saturday’s game will be a better-news story. The 7 PM kickoff should see temps in the 80s and light winds.
In Div III, Rose-Hulman fits in another out-of-conference bout at Trine Illinois Wesleyan (Angola, IN) on Saturday evening. (You know you’re in Div III when the school names sound like made-up-word bank names and a school with “Illinois” in its name is situated in a whole other state. It’s all good.) Trine kapunched Manchester in week 1, 52-14, and obviously won’t be beanbag. Look for cloudy and lower 70s for the 7 PM (CDT) game start.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has this weekend off, and will resume play at SUNY Maritime on 18 September.