Yikes, and so like OMG – the first edition of this year’s Football Follies, and we’re already behind.
For the old alma mater, that turns out to be a literal statement. Admin note: for our new readers, we do NCAA football here during the season (with some NFL, and the occasional high school mention, thrown in for free). TOC’s alma mater, the University of Tulsa, smallest-enrollment school in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, has pride of place.
We have a motley collection of TOC favorites, including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Nevada, Navy, and Army, as well as our beloved Div III teams, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (in Indiana) and Christopher Newport U. in Newport News, VA. To this gaggle, we add this year Texas Christian University, where a young cousin has just matriculated in the School of Music. He may not care about football, but his mom and her cousin are mad for it.
On to the weekly Football Commentary Service. Tulsa, we are extremely disgusted to report, lost ignominiously, 34-7, in a Thursday night opener to Bowling Green, which has regularly served as a bowl-season punching bag for the Golden Hurricane in the last several years. There was no coverage of the game in the TOC viewing area, so we have only the post-game reporting to go by. It sounds like a miscue and fumble-fest for Tulsa, but the BGSU defense must be given its due.
Second-year starting QB Cody Green, who came to TU from Nebraska in 2011, racked up the yards and points last year, but was knocked off his pace by the Falcon D yesterday. He went 17 for 34 and a measly 172 passing yards. Overall, TU piled up only 273 yards, the lowest total since a shutout by Oklahoma in 2009. Two missed field goals, a blocked punt, and a flubbed fake-punt play contributed to the general Tulsa football squalor. Tighten it up, guys. Some tough games ahead for you in Conference USA this season. (Not to mention Oklahoma itself on 14 September, in Norman.)
You wouldn’t know Tulsa was the C-USA champ in 2012, and downed Iowa State 31-17 in the 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
(Also on Thursday, #6 South Carolina – motto: “The Other USC” – knocked off North Carolina 27-10, in a fairly workmanlike match. Note: we’ll be arbitrarily using the AP poll for Top 25 ranks. #24 USC let Hawaii score in a 30-13 dusting. Trojan offense needs some work.)
Speaking of Oklahoma, though. The #16 Sooners’ opener is on Saturday, in Norman, versus Louisiana-Monroe (ULM), which may be Sun Belt but ain’t necessarily bean bag. The Sooners launch the season with a redshirt freshman at the helm: Trevor Knight, who has been picked over the more experienced Blake Bell (the “Belldozer”) for the starting position. The difference between them is pretty simple: Knight’s lighter, faster agility in the pocket and throwing arm. Bell is just more of a three-yards-and-a-clod-of-red-dirt Clydesdale. By all accounts, the QB contest (which was a three-way until a few days ago, when Kendall Thompson dropped out due to an injury) was a very tough one for Bob Stoops and his offensive staff. Promisingly, Knight hails from Reagan HS in San Antonio, TX.
ULM’s athletic director has lately announced that his school “can be the Gonzaga of football,” presumably a reference to the looming NCAA FBS shift to a playoff structure, and Gonzaga University’s record in men’s basketball of making the regional finals every year since 1999. Aim high, dudes. The Warhawks, who bumped off Arkansas last year and performed credibly against Auburn and Baylor, bring back a lot of their 2012 roster, and won’t be a pushover for the Sooners, who always spend some time rolling around in shaving cream in the early season. OU seems to be giving about 24 in the line. TOC bet: it will be closer.
Oklahoma State, #13, opens on Saturday hosting Mississippi State in Reliant Stadium in Houston (instead of at T. Boone Pickens in Stillwater). The Cowboys give 13 in this match-up, bringing back their trademark high-tempo offense and bend-but-don’t-break defense, with a lot of last year’s starters. QB isn’t one of those positions, however, and the Pokes will be playing two during the game: senior Clint Chelf and sophomore J.W. Walsh. Not a walk for them under these conditions. Just stay away from those hideous neon-gray uniforms, huh?
Moving on: the Hokies of Virginia Tech won the lottery and get to host #1 Alabama for their season-opener, aka the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, to be held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Tide are giving about 22 in this one, and it’s probably best to keep the story short, as everyone knows it anyway. Tide: Death Star D. Hokies: expected to be mid-pack ACC this year, with Logan Thomas – strong arm, 16 INT 2012 – at the helm. Pretty good D, but can it shut down T.J. Yeldon? Left-field Beamer vs. down-the-line Saban: gotta go with the bag-em-tag-em Saban style.
Navy’s season kicks off next week, on Saturday at Indiana, but Army will host Morgan State (FCS, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) tonight in West Point. Knights give 33, not overly generous considering the Bears finished 2012 at 3-8.
Also notable this evening, Miami (Da U) opens at home versus Florida Atlantic, which, sure, is chopped liver, but plays in C-USA now. Texas Tech will be at SMU this evening as well. The overdog should win handily in both games, but at least C-USA is steppin’ out. Western Michigan will get its drubbing by Michigan State out of the way this evening (Spartans give 28); C-USA’s Houston walks away with the point-spread honors giving 40 versus Southern tonight.
Back on track for Saturday, Nevada is landing at Normandy on Day 1 of the season, facing a recharged #21 UCLA in the Rose Bowl. We’ll get to see if returning Wolf Pack QB Cody Fajardo has settled down any, and how much Richy Turner and Brandon Wimberly can do for him. Bruin fans are over the moon at the idea of an even better season than last year, after nearly a decade of pure suckage. As we understand it in these parts (SoCal), the fathers of both head coaches – Brian Polian of Nevada and Jim Mora of UCLA – coached for the Indianapolis Colts at one point. So that’s really exciting. Bruins give 21.
#20 TCU launches the season with a bang by hosting #12 LSU at 8 PM Central on Saturday. The line has the Tigers giving only 4; Horned Frogs have their work cut out for them, however, with LSU’s usual array of firepower now under the experienced hand of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. The Tigers have been offensively uninteresting under Les Miles, but Cameron has the tools to change that. Should be a good game.
It can be hard to pick other games of note in the early season, when the creampuff parade wends its way through FBS stadiums, but we do note that Rice is manning up to #7 Texas A&M (Aggies give 27), New Mexico State will fling itself at #15 Texas, and, of course, #5 Georgia will visit #8 Clemson in a marquee match-up on Saturday evening. Elsewhere in the top 10, #2 Ohio State hosts Buffalo, #3 Oregon hosts Eastern Washington, #4 Stanford will play next week, #9 Louisville hosts Ohio on Sunday, and #10 Florida gives 24 hosting Toledo.
For the Punching Furthest Above Its Weight Prize this week, we select Elon (FCS, Southern Conference), meeting Georgia Tech on Saturday across a 46-point Yellow Jacket give. Good luck to the Phoenix.
Over in Div III, our RHIT Fightin’ Engineers are busy preparing for their first game on 7 September in Kalamazoo. Rose-Hulman plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, and achieves a .500 season pretty darn often.
The Christopher Newport University Captains, who finished as USA South Conference champs last year, will meet their first foe in Salisbury U., in Maryland, on the 7th. We think there is still a TOC Nation band-geek connection in this regard, but will await updates from the gallery on that.
See you on the gridiron.