Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 3

Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 3
Sooner split end #12 Jon Harrison (d. 2019, R.I.P) catches QB #11 Jack Mildren (d. 2008, R.I.P.) for a 24-yard go-ahead TD in the Nov 1971 faceoff called the “Game of the Century.” #1 Nebraska (HC Bob Devaney) ultimately defeated #2 Oklahoma (HC Chuck Fairbanks) in Norman, 35-31. Nebraska went on to take the national title with a 38-6 win over Alabama in the Orange Bowl in Miami. YouTube, Historical Husker Media video

Maryland will host Illinois Friday evening to get our weekend started, possibly more of a hoot than Ohio at Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday, which resulted in a 49-14 rout by the Ragin’ Cajuns.  Ohio seems to pretty much suck this year.  The Terps are giving 7.

(Game break: it is so freaking Maryland vs. Illinois that it’s 3-all at halftime. … OK, Terps pulled it out 20-17.)

Other than that, the theme of the weekend is jarring out-of-conference, and out of division, matchups.  We love that Long Island U. is taking another FBS flyer this week with Miami (OH).  Buhh-da.  Buhh-da, BUHH-da.   (Jaws theme, hello.)  But in our opinion, South Carolina State at New Mexico State takes the cake.

Will this presidential election be the most important in American history?

That said, with the CFBP+ vision migrating us to more of this zesty cross-conference/division play, there’s going to have to be some new arrangement for broadcasts and viewing that gets us out of the conference stovepipes.  The slate of games you don’t get to see unless you’re slinging nickels and dimes all over creation is getting long.  You can see most any Div II or III game you want online, but just try that with Ball State at Wyoming.  Or Sacramento State at Cal this weekend.  Nothing doing.  The PAC-12’s not down with that.

Inner Circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, heads to new #9 Ohio State for another much-needed whuppin’.  In spite of the Buckeyes’ medium-meh showing versus Oregon, we’re fully expecting them to prevail.  We’d love to think TU can beat Ohio State, but we’re not crazy.  We do think Tulsa is capable of holding OSU to around 35 points, if they play like we know they can.  It’s iffier on offense for the H.

Buckeyes are favored by 24.

Saturday morning tees up primo nostalgia ball with new #3 Oklahoma riding in on the Big 76-0 Win over Western Carolina to host ancient rival Nebraska for the first time in (let us check into that …).  This is another game that will need totem-shaking for the Sooners, as it’s just the kind of game they go out and plant their feet firmly and lose.

But for Sense of History and Days of Yore, it’s hard to beat.  The teams go back through 86 meetings to 1912 (the most recent for the Big 12 title in 2010, before Nebraska defected to the Big 10 and was never heard from again).  Storied Rivalry as high as an elephant’s eye, and then some.  Oranges on the field, dudes.  Oranges on the field.  Teams running option-looks on each other, you go back far enough, like trying to throw would be making entangling alliances and betraying George Washington.  Player names that belong to grandpas and Hall of Famers now, or already crossed that River Jordan and committed to hallowed memory.

These days it’s all fancy air attacks and we-don’t-need-no-stinking-defense.  Hey, it’s all good.  Lincoln-come-lately (that would be the OU coach, not the capital of Nebraska) and the boys are giving 22.  Red alert.  Don’t get cocky.

Oklahoma State will be in Boise Saturday evening to take on Boise State, neither of them ranked and BSU probably about as good as Tulsa on D this season, though with a decisive edge on offense.  Interestingly, the Broncos are giving 4.  They will have the Blue Field of Death advantage, of course.  The Pokes and Broncs played once before, in 2018, with OSU prevailing.

Navy is 0-2 after the loss to Air Force, and knows when to take a break for some profitable reflection.  The Mids have this weekend off and will play Houston on 25 September.

Army heads to UConn for a noon kickoff with its first Independents running-mate opponent.  An Army that can throw is scaring everyone to death; the Black Knights are giving 34, and not just because UConn is terrible.

Air Force is favored by 9 hosting Utah State, in spite of the Aggies being 2-0 with some healthy offensive numbers so far.  Washington State has seen better days, to be sure, and North Dakota isn’t the very cream of the FCS crop, but we’d look for a closer finish on this one.

#15 Virginia Tech gets back in the saddle heading to Morgantown for an out-of-conference bout with West Virginia, pride of the Big 12.  These two mountain-borne schools last played each other in September 2017 (VT by 31-24), but have played 52 times in a series going back more than a century.  For a brief period in the 1950s-60s their rivalry was known as the Tobacco Bowl.  WVU is giving 2.5 in the line, which isn’t silly, per se, but isn’t far from it either.  Should be a good game though.  If VT can keep up the lower-penalty, fewer-turnovers look they’ve been sporting so far, we’d see them prevailing.

Nevada crushed Idaho State 49-10 to go 2-0, and heads to Kansas State Saturday to take on the equally 2-0 Wildcats.  The two teams have never played each other, and the 2-point give for the Wolf Pack attests to that, no one being quite sure how to gauge them in week 3.  KSU posted a decisive win over Stanford in week 1, but didn’t look that dominating in the win over Southern Illinois last week.  We won’t get the game here; sigh.

LSU gives 19 hosting Central Michigan, for some reason, in the teams’ first meet.  Stick around long enough, eventually you’ll play everyone.  LSU slapped McNeese around 34-7 last week, as nature intended.

TCU had a close call with Cal last week, but pulled it out 34-32.  The Frogs are off this week, preparing to meet metro-area rival SMU next Saturday in the battle royal for the Iron Skillet.

Toledo came this close with new #12 Notre Dame last week, and while they couldn’t quite pull it off, they’ll be back in their own Glass House on Saturday to take on rare opponent Colorado State (yes, they’ve played three times before, the last in 2019).  The Rams have lost to San Diego State and Vanderbilt so far, both by double digits but scoring in the 20s themselves.  The Rockets give 13, and while we’ll be rooting for them we don’t totally hate CSU’s chances.  We can see the Rams covering, at any rate.

Wyoming prevailed in a 50-43 shootout with Northern Illinois last week, and will be back in Laramie on Saturday hosting another MAC stalwart, Ball State.  We’re delighted that the Cowboys are 2-0; Ball State is 1-1 after a week 2 drubbing by Penn State.  The Cardinals were the MAC champs last year, but last year was weird so take that for what it’s worth.  Wyoming is favored by 7.

Top 10

#1 Alabama heads to #11 Florida for what will undoubtedly be considered the game of the week (though less likely as a potential SEC championship matchup down the road than Alabama-Georgia).  Lot of football left to play, of course.  Tide give 14.5.

#2 Georgia (-32) hosts South Carolina (motto: The Other USC).

New #4 Oregon wins the overdog honors in a walk hosting Stony Brook (FCS, Colonial; Brookhaven, NY), which does come in 1-1 having smacked Colgate last week 24-3.  Stony Brook doesn’t neglect its football, but its main gig is as a premier research university, and as you’d expect, it has done plenty of premier research.  One of its recent feats was identifying the fossilized remains of the largest known species of frog, Beelzebufo (“devil frog”) on Madagascar.

Artist’s rendering of Beelzebufo (devil frog), giant prehistoric frog of Madagascar. Wikipedia: Nobu Tamura ( – Own work

The depiction above is a rendering of Beelzebufo’s beefy, 16-inch, 10-pound physique, reconstructed from 65-70 million years ago.

The depiction below is what comes up when you check the hyperlink from Wikipedia to its Beelzebufo citation at the Stony Brook page.  Apparently someone didn’t extend his domain name.  But if you happen to need bail bonds, you appear to be in business.

Former ScienceCentric webpage, no longer yielding news of giant frog fossils. Screen cap by author 17 Sep 2021.

We assume the Ducks will crush it over the Seawolves.

New #5 Iowa (-23) hosts Kent State.

#6 Clemson (-28) hosts Georgia Tech.

#7 Texas A&M (-30) hosts New Mexico.

#8 Cincinnati heads to Indiana giving a measly 3.  Huh.  #8.

#10 Penn State (-5) hosts #22 Auburn in the marquee slot.  Potential here for a real marquee game as well.

Best of the rest

At this point, given their play so far, we can unreservedly recommend the interesting matchup of Fresno State at #13 UCLA in the nightcap slot Saturday night.  The Bruins are giving 11, but it wouldn’t surprise us for the Bulldogs to cover.

Michigan State at #24 Miami (Da U) is one that sounds bigger than it is this year.  The Hurricanes are giving 6.5 in the line.  Still, it’s “name ball,” and we’d only forgo it because Oklahoma and Virginia Tech are both playing in the same time slot, and there’s only so much you can try to keep quality tabs on.

In a similar vein, Utah (-8) will be at San Diego State Saturday evening.  The one thing guaranteed is a glorious fall sunset.  Well, OK, and Utah will probably win.

Stanford, our favorite Candy Pink, will be at Vanderbilt.  Let that sink in.  The Pink’s favored by 12.5, on the strength of last week’s win over USC which knocked the Trojans out of the rankings.

Most of the zesty, exotic lineup is overmatches and funky stuff like Eastern Michigan (-22) at UMass or Grambling at Houston.  There’s a limit to how much weird you want with your football scheduling.

But there’s a bit of choice Storied Rivalry action, starting with Purdue at #12 Notre Dame in the clash for the Shillelagh Trophy.  This isn’t the creepy, tasteless gaud exchanged by Notre Dame and USC every year, so it’s got that going for it.  The Arsh are at a 7.5-point favorability in the line.

Tulane at #17 Ole Miss will be another chapter in a Storied Rivalry, this one conducted decently without worthless trinkets, and Ole Miss giving 14.5.

Rice at Texas is another Storied Rivalry, if one without much of a plot this year as Texas probably won’t have to break a sweat to make good on 26 points.

And of course we mustn’t forget the South’s Oldest Rivalry, which will see Virginia at #21 North Carolina on Saturday evening.  This one goes back to 1892; the Tar Heels are favored by 8.

Other ranks

In FCS, our McNeese State Cowboys are ready for a win after going 0-2 versus Div II champs West Florida and FBS rival LSU.  They take a hop down the road Saturday evening for one last out of-conference meet with Southern in Baton Rouge.  The Jaguars, who play in the Southwest Athletic Conference, come in 1-1.  McNeese starts Southland play next week.  Should see a pleasant mid-upper 70s for the 6 PM (CDT) kickoff Saturday.

In Div II, Slippery Rock has edged back to #6 in the Coaches Poll with a handy win over East Stroudsburg last week.  The Rock hosts Lock Haven this weekend, which comes in 1-1 after a resounding loss to California (PA).  PSAC play starting off with a bang; expect partly cloudy and low 70s for the 6 PM (EDT) game start.

Central Oklahoma, 1-1 after a loss to Emporia State last week, hosts MIAA opponent Missouri Southern Saturday evening in Edmond.  Missouri Southern comes in 0-2 from our favorite I-44 pitstop, Joplin, and a blank-out loss last week to Northeastern Oklahoma State.

We regret to report that someone is letting the temps get out of hand in central Oklahoma, and the high on Saturday will be 92.  The 7 PM kickoff can expect 80s and the usual humidity, which doesn’t bother regionally-adapted folks but feels like a steam-bath to visitors from the Great West.

In Div III, Rose-Hulman prevailed at Trine Illinois Wesleyan in Indiana last week, 31-30, to head into Saturday’s final out-of-conference bout at 1-1.  This week’s opponent is Hope College (Holland, MI) of Michigan Intercollegiate, which also comes in 1-1.  All kinds of people are alumni of Hope College, including Republican politicians Pete Hoekstra, Guy Vander Jagt, and Terry Lynn Land, and Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral.  The college entertains itself every September with a three-hour tug-of-war in which odd-year classes pull against even-year counterparts to see who can haul in the most rope within the three-hour limit.

Tug-of-war at Hope College, Holland, MI. Odd-year side. Wikipedia: Yhaelleinad – Own work

Colleges do sillier things.  For the 2 PM game start, expect to brush 80 with partly cloudy skies.

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy had last weekend off, but plays game two of the season at SUNY Maritime (Bronx) on 18 September.  SUNY Maritime comes off a low-scoring loss to Massachusetts Maritime in week 2.  LU Nation will of course recall that Geraldo Rivera is a distinguished alumnus of SUNY Maritime, along with astronaut Scott Kelly (Mark’s twin brother).  Fewer may be aware that the captain of the Exxon Valdez at the time of the notorious 1989 oil spill honed his skills at SUNY Maritime.  We feel sure that’s not a reflection on Maritime’s standards or commitment to excellence.

The noon kickoff in the Bronx will see temps around 80 and balmy breezes.

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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