Naaahhh. It can’t be week 10 coming up already. Can it?
We have already fallen behind this week, since Tulsa played Central Florida (C-USA East) in Orlando on Thursday night, and we didn’t get any insightful commentary posted beforehand. (We also missed Tuesday’s 63-60 shoot-out in Toledo with Northern Illinois.) We’re blaming all that on the impending “retarding” of the clocks on Saturday night (or, technically, Sunday morning, although we have no intention whatsoever of staying up for the event). Our personal opinion here is that Daylight Saving Time is completely retarded – and it wastes energy too, forcing people in the Southwest to keep their air conditioning running later into the evening hours, throughout the summer, than they would have to if we’d just leave the clocks where they are, when March rolls around.
Tulsa seemed to have a touch of ADD in the first half, but buckled down and got the job done by the end of the game, coming out on the long end of 24-17. It wasn’t a big trouncing of UCF – which has lost most of the seniors with which it dominated C-USA East over the past few years – but it worked. Some better execution would be in order in terms of tackling effectiveness and smelling out the run. That Houston game is going to be tough, if Keenum has all his offensive muscle to call on. The Golden Hurricane didn’t look as “up” and prepared for the UCF match as for the SMU game.
Oklahoma, having made up a couple of notches in the standings, comes in at BCS #6 hosting Texas A&M on Saturday. A&M is 5-3 overall and not half-bad this year. The Aggies are coming off a painful OT loss to Missouri, however (something they will likely have an annual opportunity to avenge in the SEC), and now have to travel to Norman. The Sooners can beat A&M badly – better than the give of 14 – if they get off their duffs and put something into it. OU will miss Dominique Whaley, but they’ve got such depth in the back-of-all-trades corps that his loss for the season isn’t a showstopper. We at TOC would really, really like to see some execution in the defensive basics: tackling and heads-up recognition in the secondary. OU has a wickedly fast D, but it doesn’t always accomplish much when it gets there.
It does take more than a good offensive line to win the Big 12. Will the #3 OSU Cowboys have the magic formula this year? They give 21 in their bout with a rapidly improving Kansas State in Stillwater. The line looks pretty accurate in terms of what the Pokes could do. It will be an interesting study in the psychology of history and reputation, to see if the Wildcats have pumped themselves for this game as they did for the Oklahoma game. Even if they have, however, OSU’s well advanced in a year in which they know from experience that they can turn momentum around in the second half.
Navy hosts Troy, and is giving 6 to the Sunbelt Conference’s hard-luck Trojans, who whiffed in OT to Florida International last week. We know Coach Niumatalolo (Indian name: “Needs a nickname”) won’t let the Mids languish in melancholy over their drubbing by Notre Dame, but we urge him not to, just the same. Army is at Air Force for the next leg of the run to the Commander’s Trophy, and the Falcons give 17, which sounds about right.
#12 VA Tech will play next Thursday instead of Saturday, meeting #23 Georgia Tech for the marbles in the ACC Coastal Division. Big game, and one to which the Hokies bring more – and more varied – firepower (which, on the offensive side of the ball, can be seen as funny). GT has had an odd run, losing ignominiously to downward-trajectory teams like Virginia and Miami (Da U), but then knocking off an admittedly overranked Clemson. VT should be givin’ some, as we get closer to Thursday, but can always be counted on to use those little clawed Hokie feet for target practice.
Nevada has a bye this week and will host Hawaii on the 12th.
The best of the rest is blindingly obvious this week, with #2 Alabama hosting #1 LSU. In a triumph of Roll Tide betting, ‘Bama is giving 4. But that, of course, is silly. The teams are very evenly matched, but TOC would give the edge to the Tigers, even though they’ll be in Alabama’s house. That said, this will be one of the rare NCAA FBS games that truly showcases two teams with a valid claim to being the best. It’s not just that their styles of play are similar – committed to the run, fast, agile, and tough on D – but that they’re both so good at it. The Tide could certainly take the day. Too close to call. Too promising a game to not watch. One of them will drop from the ranks of the undefeated after Saturday night.
4-4 California hosts 3-5 Washington State, in a bout between two teams in the Gee-I-thought-their-record-was-worse-than-that category. In the “Huh?” column, #18 Georgia is playing New Mexico State for some reason. Seemed worth mentioning, possibly as a pretext for doing shots if you’re bored.
But the Battle for the Bottom of the Top 10 might be mildly interesting this week, since it will feature #7 Arkansas hosting #9 South Carolina. We here feel that the Gamecocks are overranked, and will be interested to see how handily the Razorbacks dispatch them. Other contenders for the Bottom of the Top should win without much difficulty: #8 Oregon over Washington, and #10 Nebraska over Northwestern.
Something is going on tonight with USC and Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”), but we so do not care. #19 Arizona State should have no trouble at UCLA, nor #5 Boise State at UNLV.
In Div II, our SWOSU Bulldogs are 4-5 facing their collision in Alva with conference foe Arkansas Tech, whose team, we are sorry to say, plays under the name Wonder Boys. This sounds like a reason for endless locker-room pranks by opponents, but there it is. If you’re going to call yourselves the Wonder Boys, your record should be better than 2-7.
NWOSU’s 4-5 Rangers head to Goodwell, OK (pop. 1293) for their final game of the season against Panhandle State. The 2-6 Aggies play in the Heartland Conference (not to be confused with the Div III Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in which Rose-Hulman plays). It’s supposed to be cloudy and 69 in Goodwell on Saturday, and frankly, there’s hardly anywhere we’d rather be than at the game.
Perhaps the one other place is in Ferrum, VA (pop. 1313), for the Div III, USA South clash between Christopher Newport and Ferrum. Both come in 6-2 and tied for the conference title. The Panthers won their last game over Shenandoah, but only after it was postponed by a day due to weather. Saturday should see it chilly (54F) but sunny at game time. We wish the Captains well.
Rose-Hulman will be in Anderson, IN (pop. 56K) to meet HCAC rival Anderson U., whose Ravens have lost to everyone except the Earlham College Quakers. The 3-5 Engineers have a good shot at boosting their record to 4-5 in this one. 56 and sunny at game time.