Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 7

Top 10 gets a Great Reset.

I think we’re about marveled out over the saga of Saban’s Retreat From College Station.  It got Texas A&M bumped all the way up to #21, so, you know.  CFBP+ and its early-season collusion squad do what they do.

The one we can’t get over quite yet is UMass finally getting within whites-of-their-eyes range and bagging a W.  Minutemen!

We are sorry to report that Navy has already succumbed to Memphis this week (Thursday night), which may have been foreseeable but is nevertheless sad.  It wasn’t a very good game for the Mids. 

Friday offers Clemson at Syracuse, for whoever’s still in that jeu d’orange, and a choice of Cal at #9 Oregon (-14) or #24 San Diego State (-10) at San Jose State in the nighttime slot.  (Update: Clemson’s up 17-14 with half of the 4Q remaining as this goes to post.)

The Ducks will be rocking cartel chic.  (We don’t think those are ill-arranged tefillin.)

Having pondered the matter, we believe we were in error last week going with a Lord of the Rings allusion for remedying Oklahoma’s offensive line problem.  Much as we like Lincoln Riley as Aragorn, there’s a better metaphor for the O-line’s performance, in the cringe-y spectacle of V.P. Kamala Harris faking her way through an oration to middle schoolers about space exploration.

The solution for OU?  Audition child actors for the O-line.  Whatever it takes.  Fist-pump.  It helped putting Caleb Williams in behind center last week.  We’ll see what Aragorn does.  Does he win the crown, or does he morph into Boromir and lose a manhunt to the orcs?

Inner Circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, finally won one the right way last week, and we’re darn proud of them.  Good show.  TU will be at South Florida on Saturday, kicking off at noon in Ray-Jay and giving 8.5 to the 1-4 Bulls.

New #4 Oklahoma posted a very exciting win in a true shootout with Texas, and will be back in Norman Saturday evening for a marquee-slot date with TCU.  The Frogs gratified us with a win over Texas Tech last week, and this week will gratify us by giving OU a good game (the better to build CFPB+ cred with) before hopping home on the short end. 

The campaign is raging to (literally) see which QB will start for the Sooners tomorrow.  Reportedly, enterprising OU student reporters watched team practice through binoculars on Thursday and disclosed that Williams was taking snaps with the first string players.  Aragorn ordered a media blackout thereafter, for whatever good that will do.  We don’t think the B-52 Stratofortress, of which there’s always a nice selection in maintenance at nearby Tinker AFB, has a look-down imaging suite.  But now would be the time.

The betting is that Williams will start.

Whatever the outcome – even if he transfers out posthaste – Spencer Rattler gets to keep the two dealer-donated cars (see link).  So that’s the good news.  Sooners give 13.5.  Shimmy-shimmy totem shake.

#12 Oklahoma State heads to new #25 Texas after a week off.  We don’t think Texas really needs to be ranked lower than #24 San Diego State or #22 N.C. State (motto: “They have a football team?”), or #18 Arizona State, for that matter.  And we remain dubious about the OK-State ranking.  So we’re largely with the oddsbubbas, who have the Longhorns a 3.5-point favorite.  Aside from everything else, home-field advantage matters in Austin.  Expect a good game.

We covered Navy in “troubled waters under the bridge,” above, and pause only to note that they’ll be at Cincinnati next Saturday.

Army may have lost for no good reason to Ball State in the last outing two weeks ago, but is only disfavored by 14 points at Wisconsin on Saturday.  We wish our Black Knights well.

We can’t think why Air Force and Boise State aren’t a Storied Rivalry item, but they’re not.  They’re just meeting for ordinary football on Saturday on the Blue Field of Death.  Air Force is 5-1 to BSU’s 3-3; the Broncos are giving 3.5.

Virginia Tech came this close against Notre Dame, ultimately timing out at 32-29.  They’ll host 4-1 Pitt in Blacksburg on Saturday, and although Pitt is a 5-point favorite, we’re calling it closer.  VT has a disorderly grab-bag of problems, but they overcome some each week.  Reasonable chance of a win tomorrow.

Nevada continues its gratifying roll, 4-1 and bursting with momentum as Carson Strong brings his arm back to Mackay Stadium for the Saturday nightcap hosting Hawaii.  The Rainbow Warriors are 3-3, and managed to contain Fresno State in a 27-24 win last week.  The Wolf Pack is giving 14, which looks good on paper unless Hawaii can keep Strong from tossing 6 for 42 again, as he did against NMSU.

LSU is melting, but we believe in the 3-3 Zouave, even after two unrecoverable SEC losses, and will be cheering them on Saturday morning as they host #20 Florida for their Storied Rivalry.  But dang, guys, the opposing wide receivers go downfield.  That’s where they keep being wide open, in case it isn’t obvious.  Well, now and then you have to build back better.  No Salvation Army Thrift Store bric-a-brac will be endangered for this rivalry.  Gators give 11.5.

Toledo heads to Central Michigan after last week’s heartbreak 22-20 loss to NIU.  The Rockets are giving 5 to the 3-3 Chippewas, but we’ll see. In those three losses, CMU has put up 20+ points apiece on two Power-5 teams.  Look sharp there, Toledo.

Wyoming will have a quality outing hosting Fresno State Saturday afternoon.  The Pokes are 4-1 after the loss to Air Force; 4-2 Fresno State is better than its standing with an in-conference 1-1 in the MWC West.  The Bulldogs are giving 3; we’re just envious of the folks who will be in Laramie for the sunny skies and crisp fall 50s.

Top 10

New #1 Georgia hosts sudden #11 Kentucky for what might as well be the game of week, even if the ‘Dogs are giving 21.5.  See #2-#10 for perspective.

New #2 Iowa (-12) hosts Purdue.

New #3 Cincinnati (-21.5) hosts Central Florida.

New #5 Alabama (-17) heads to Mississippi State.  You’re seeing that game of the week point, I think. 

New #6 Ohio State has the week off.

New #7 Penn State is also off.

New #8 Michigan (I rest my case) joins the no-shows.

New #10 Michigan State will be at Indiana giving 4.

Best of the rest

It’s one of those weird weekends where you keep thinking, “Some of these have got to be rivalries, right?”  But then they aren’t.

There are two identifiable Storied Rivalry sightings in our spillover sample.  One is vintage:  Iowa State at Kansas State for Farmageddon!, which dates to 1917 and has in fact been played every year since, through war, famine, plague, rain, snow, dark of night, etc.  We salute the longest continuous-running rivalry in FBS ball, even if its moniker dates only to 2009.  No Dollar-Store trophies.  The Cyclones are giving 6.5 in Manhattan.

The other features Nebraska at Minnesota in the much-interrupted rivalry series now contested for the $5 Bits of Broken Chair trophy.

Sophomores on the rampage. Via Twitter

Deprecate, deprecate.  Makes us long for a shillelagh that looks like a Josephine Baker headdress.  The Huskers are favored by 5.

At random:

It’s not a recognized rivalry, but Yale (FCS, Ivy League) will be at UConn on Saturday.

#19 BYU at Baylor (-5.5) could be fun.

#13 Ole Miss (-2.5) at Tennessee and #18 Arizona State at Utah (pick ’em) have possibilities.

If you want to see Rutgers at Northwestern (pick ’em) for some reason, and we’re passing no judgments here, tickets at Ryan Field are going for $2.

Other ranks

In FCS, our McNeese State Cowboys are 1-4 heading to Natchitoches to take on 1-4 Northwestern State (LA) on Saturday.  For long-time correspondents of the Follies, yes, this is the one with the Civil War-era ghost named Isabella, and the one that’s also the alma mater of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron.  This would seem to be anybody’s game; the 1 PM kickoff should see a pleasant low 70s and sunshine.

In Div II, Slippery Rock remains #6 in the Coaches Poll, now 6-0 after knocking out Edinboro 49-13.  Saturday is homecoming for the Rock, which will host major rival Indiana (PA), coming in 4-1 with one loss to #11 Shepherd.  IUP isn’t currently ranked but continues to be a lurker just below #25.  This will be SRU’s toughest match so far.  It will start at 1 PM Eastern in plunging temps and a high probably of rain.

Central Oklahoma, 3-3, heads to Hays, Kansas Saturday for a night game at Fort Hays State.  FHSU’s Tigers are also 3-3, but prevailed over then-#12 Nebraska-Kearney two weeks ago, and overall are at or perhaps a bit above UCO’s level of proficiency.

A notable childhood resident of Hays, Kansas (though not an FHSU alumnus) is billionaire Philip Anschutz, owner – among numerous business entities – of the L.A. Kings, Walden Media, and the Washington Examiner.

Kickoff, at 7 PM, will see clear skies and temps falling from the 60s.

In Div III, Rose-Hulman is 3-2 and perched atop the HCAC with Mt. St. Joseph after last week’s win over Hanover.  RHIT hosts 0-5 Anderson U. (Anderson, IN) on Saturday.  The front sweeping through today will leave temps right around 60 and sunny skies for the 1 PM game start in Terre Haute.

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is 5-0 after a handy win over Norwich, and will kick off at noon Saturday with visiting MIT as NEWMAC play rolls on.  MIT is 2-2 with a NEWMAC loss to Catholic U., and a respectable 1,474 total yards in the four games so far.  The front rolling through Indiana hits New York on Saturday, bringing low 70s and probable fall rain to Kings Point during the game.

Meanwhile, MIT is working on a vibrating fabric, which is probably something somebody needs.

32 thoughts on “Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 7”

  1. McNeese vs. Northwestern is one that for many years was Northwestern playing spoiler to most teams in conference play.

    LSU still doesn’t have an O line. IMO, they are not taught to block aggressively on running plays. Everything seems to be zone slant to one side or the other where the blockers are turned towards the sidelines. Good news is that the center was noth thrown into the backfield almost every play last week. He must be putting those Harvard brains to work in technique (Full snark intended)

    1. Welcome, KH. You’re “in” now and shouldn’t need any more approvals. Good to see you around.

      The LSU O-line profile is indeed pretty predictable. A trait shared with Oklahoma’s. It was working busting Kennedy Brooks up left last week, but I don’t see Georgia or Alabama just rolling over for it, as Texas did.

      Another Saturday morning split three ways – followed by a similarly schizo afternoon. Sigh.

      1. Coach Muleshoe has a Corporation to run. Williams will start. 1 or 2 OU D Secondary players will return. That may slow down the 20 yard open receivers problem. Maybe. Note to slow, small, and inexperienced OU secondary players: receivers will be running toward your end zone. No feel for the game. Shorthorns may embarrass OSU. Stillwater faithful are, again, in the Best Team Ever frenzy. Like avoiding gravity, a QB that cannot throw the ball may be problematic. I have left over metaphors if you need some. Brandon says Hi!

        1. I guess Poke fans will continue their frenzy, after pulling a rabbit out of the cowboy hat.

          Excellent totem-shaking for the Sooners. It would be just like OU to import a 2nd rank Texas team just long enough to run the Schooner over a cliff. Shake, rattle.

          1. Shorthorn D made the OSU QB look like Joe Montana. Amazing. LSU beats The Gators. F QB 4 picks. Nice. Your call on TCU? Iowa: No comment.

            1. On second thought the little plastic thing that pops out when the turkey is done has appeared on the Iowa side line.

  2. Hmm, limited student attendance at VA Tech games:

    Over the last several weeks, we have heard too many stories of selfish, inappropriate, and embarrassing student behavior at home football games. What we have heard falls short of Virginia Tech standards – and most importantly, creates an unsafe environment for all who attend.

    Too many “Let’s go Brandon” chants?

  3. Well, that was enough excitement for about a month. The whole first-slot Inner Circle having to take it to the final minutes.

    But three nice if un-pretty wins. Davis-Price don’t need no offensive line. (Well, technically, he needs Florida to keep falling for the same O-line move time after time.)

    Tulsa receiver coach needs to step up or step aside. Tired of all the unnecessary ball dropping. Of course, I could have done without the interceptions too. TU handed USF 14 of their 31 points on a silver platter.

    Poor old Nebraska.

    Can’t believe I forgot to commemorate the Old Brass Spittoon. MSU squeaked out of that one. They’ll have something to wha-chonk into for the next year.

    Opponents drawing first blood in all our second-slot Inner Circle matches. But we’re undaunted. Hang onto that ball, Wyoming.

    1. Doesn’t matter, the line actually blocked and opened holes. Where has this team been all year? Lots of 2nd stringers playing today.

      McNeese wins!

  4. Hey, McNeese is up 28-9 on NW State in the 4Q. 6 and change to go; I’m thinking the Cowboys will have themselves a W.

    I figured Baylor could well sneak up on BYU, but wasn’t thinking we’d see Iowa down by 10 to Purdue in the 4Q.

    Toledo looking like they’re not going to pull it out. Space-y and lead-footed today.

    Wyoming just can’t quit the ball dropping. Is it 4 T/Os now? C’mon man.

    VT really struggling. What gives?

    Merchant Marine rolls over MIT 56-34.

    1. LOL! – was just popping in to say what in the world?

      Where were these Rockets for the first 52 minutes??

    1. It is. Had to break out the heavy totems.

      I’m thinking of experimenting with amulets, which generally tend to weigh less.

  5. I haven’t said much… principally because I was just trying to get warm.. it was C-O-L-D

    Lane Stadium was cold… the wind was mostly howling from the West, but everyone knows that it spills down off the tops of the east stands and swirls back onto the field… It was an uncomfortable game in more ways than one.
    I will say that from my perch above the T in Virginia Tech’s South End Zone, the offense was about as close to pathetic as it could be. The only thing more lame would have been just punting on first down to get ‘it’ over with quick.

    1. The downfield passing was putrid. The receivers didn’t get a ton of separation, and there were a few critical drops of otherwise low percentage throws. Most of the dropped passes were not well thrown, and the receivers were pretty well covered. Yes, you’d have liked to have seen a few more pulled in, but the reality is that the patterns were not well developed, or mixed up in enough layers to present much of a puzzle to Nardo’s defense. Oh? And Fuente’s excuse regarding defensive front looks? If you are throwing deep 20 and 30 yard low percentage balls too far downfield to be useful because the defense was moving players around on the line, you’d better check your X-Box play charts again and find a few better pattern sets to get your QB more makeable throws that actually move the sticks. It’s an excuse. For Saturday’s total failure, there is absolutely none of those to be had.

    2. The offense did not challenge Pitt between 8-15 yards downfield… that meant that Pitt’s secondary didn’t really need to cover the area at the line to gain, and they didn’t. People looking at the limited perspective of TV, or from the side in the stadium don’t see it, but when you are behind or in front of the play you can see exactly what Pitt was doing, and what Tech’s pathetic incompetent OC doesn’t have the mental and emotional flexibility enough to challenge; they were essentially loading the box, they only needed to cover two routes… that doofus deep fade route and the long slow bubble screen for -1 yard. Because other than the aborted drive that you mentioned, and the scoring drive… Tech had, as it usually does, abandoned the area under the zone across the middle of the field. Nardo might be a complete tool, but he’s got some defensive chops, and making it easy on him was pathetic. He just loaded the box and shut down the line of scrimmage… The low percentage probabilities of the tosses over the edges pinned against the sidelines took care of themselves.

    3. Tech QB Braxton Burmeister is a tough young man who is putting it all out on the field, but his physical skills are not a match for the putrid play book and pathetic excuse for game plans that dribble out of the booth to be wig-wagged onto the field for little effect. Who does Burmeister remind me of? Josh Jackson, Jr. and we all know how JJ ended up. The Tech merry-go-round in the QB Room is a serious season to season problem. No team goes anywhere without a Quarterback of any level of talent. What’s worse is that this particular QB Coach… (the execrable Brad Cornelsen) seems to grind up and spit out modestly talented Quarterbacks who, with some intelligent game planning, and play calling matching their skill sets would put winning combinations on the field. Burmeister is just the latest edition of QB coaching failure. The condition of the room is another reflection of that problem. A reminder: Rule #2 of High Powered organizations, football or otherwise.. NEVER HIRE Your personal friends and buddies to do critical jobs. What’s Rule #1? If you want to win, do what’s necessary to win! This current offensive staff violates both rules. Admittedly Rule #1 can be the path to perdition, but Rule #2 does not involve losing friends.

    4. This season is not entirely lost, our remaining contests are against teams that are in worse shape than we are… EXCEPT for UVA who seems to have found Corn’s ideal Quarterback (Huge, 240+ pounds, and very Tim Tebowish). How that plays out come Thanksgiving weekend? We can’t even speculate until Senior Night against Duke.

    5. All of us in the Hokie media warned that if Braxton Burmeister went down to injury that the season was pretty much over at that point. Burmeister is playing hurt. It’s obvious. He has no velocity or pace on his passes, and is too unwilling to run to sell the Cheeto (Fuente’s base Read/Option Play)… Our offensive line is not constructed, drilled, or taught how to drive block which means that this offense is not capable of picking up one or two yards inside.. of course the bonehead in the play calling booth (Corn, again) seems to think that he can… because… nyah…

    Well, my old writing and commenting partner had an observation that he texted to me, during the game that Pitt’s sneak worked because it looked like they actually practiced it, and our team looked like we weren’t sure of what the heck we were doing. And ultimately I really feel that might be the summary for the entire Virginia Tech non-Offense for the 2021 season. The team just really doesn’t have a clue as to what its doing. Or how it’s going to get whatever it is or isn’t done. That’s a massive coaching failure and for that there are no excuses.

    If Justin Fuente wants to keep his job, he fires Cornelsen tomorrow morning. He reaches out to the coaching tree for help and someone with something of a clue as to how to keep Quarterbacks healthy, productive, and game plans that actually work.

    The problem is that Fuente doesn’t fear for his job. It’s looking very much like the AD (Whit Babcock sporting a huge new contract extension) is happy with two tournament quality basketball teams, a softball team that played deep into the post season, a baseball team that is about to make it there too, and ACC championship Track and Field, and Wrestling squads. Football is waning, and I keep hearing solid speculation that Fuente’s seat isn’t particularly hot, and he’ll coach out his contract until 2024. With 2025 under total review as college football changes forever. That could change… If the Commonwealth Cup goes back to Hooville the flames might erupt… I don’t know that, but what I do know is that this football offensive staff is not giving its players the best chance to win football games, and that’s unforgivable. -OAB

  6. I did notice that Burmeister looked like he’s playing hurt. Limited movement and kind of sluggish.

    I think you’re spot-on about the one- or maybe two-trick offense. The play as the second half wore on reminded me of those games when I yearned for Bob Stoops to adapt because his game plan wasn’t working. You could name six coaches who would adapt, already, when it was obvious the opponent had the offense’s number, and at least one of them was Gundy up in Stillwater. For all his faults it’s something he knows how to do. Swinney used to do it well; not sure what’s going on now. Haven’t watched Clemson much this year.

    Urban Meyer’s another. Kirby Smart’s in that group. But to be in it, you have to think that way and plan for the *capability* to adapt, which can mean recruiting outside of your strengths and rep. Lincoln Riley’s been making that effort, although it doesn’t seem to come as naturally to him as it does to some others.

    Anyway, kind of painful to watch with VT. We’ll see if Fuente can adjust and rebuild on his own dime. He was hot coming out of Memphis, but the competition in the non-P5 conference wasn’t at the same level.

    1. I said back in 2016 after the third or fourth game that Fuente’s vaunted reputation for being an offensive genius was a figment of the fan base’s imagination. His offense was a pretty standard Bowling Green (Urban Meyer) Read/Option with a pass (RPO) added to some of the plays. It worked with huge, fast Paxton Lynch at Memphis, and 2016 with huge, fast Jerod Evans… It hasn’t worked since Evans quit school, left the program in a fit of ego… and disappeared into failure. Of course we remember how well Paxton Lynch did in the pros… NOT… And the archtype of the Bowling Green R/O was expressed at Florida where Meyer had Teebs to run the ball and toss 3 inelegant but effective passes when absolutely necessary.

      If Fuente wanted to actually live up the the fan fantasy offensive genius label, he’d have installed a Texas Tech/TCU Big XII Air Raid offense, and shaped it to work against actual defenses. He never did it, and frankly the reality of the Lynch years at Memphis shows that he just might have forgotten how.

      2 more games left in the season ticket pack. Saturday is an ignominious (now deserved) 1330 kickoff against ‘Cuse. Then a long road trip until Veterans’ Day weekend and Duke. Fuente needs at least three wins, and not one of the games is guaranteed with the offense being run and playing like it is. Painful to watch… painful…

      -OAB

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