Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 9

Rivalries, and season, heat up.

The TOC Inner Circle owns Friday night this week, as Navy at Tulsa winds down its final minutes and Nevada hosting lice-ridden UNLV has drawn first blood in the 1Q of their Storied Rivalry.

Too much adequate stuff.  Navy’s up 20-10 now after trailing 10-3 coming off an unimpressive first half for both teams.  Tulsa’s defense looked better against Oklahoma State and Ohio State, but it’s been churning out above-par teamwork versus the option, and mainly needs an assist from the Tulsa offense, which just keeps making an incessant stream of avoidable mistakes.  Pro-tip: keep the ball longer and your defense doesn’t have to be gassed by mid-3Q.  Bonus: you could even score more points.

It would also help if Phil Montgomery didn’t blow timeouts pointlessly on icing the kicker when there are still 4-plus minutes in the game.

Well, we’ll check back in with the live action.  (Check-back: Navy prevailed 20-17.  Congratulations to the Mids.  Coach Niumatalolo – Indian name: Needs a Nickname – has brought them a long way since their first 2-3 games.  We’re delighted to report that the Wolf Pack is up 13-0 on the pus-encrusted Rebels.  Update:  Nevada won 51-20.  Outstanding!)

Big rivalry doings this week.  Fun for all ages.

Inner Circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is playing Navy.

New/repeating #4 Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech Saturday, giving a very dangerous 19.5.  We hear Fox was playing “Aqualung” for the commercial breaks over in Game 3 of the Series, and feel that shaking the totem for the Sooners to the strains of “Aqualung” would be surprisingly appropriate.  “Bungle in the Jungle” is an alternate option.  Take points at your own risk in this game.  We may stage a Scottish-games-style totem-throw between now and Saturday afternoon.  (We’re working on a way to make popcorn-festooned totems, ideally for frying and barbecuing.)

New #15 Oklahoma State, after dropping one to Iowa State, hosts Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”) on Saturday.  The Pokes are donating 29.5.

Navy is playing Tulsa.

Army, thoroughly exhausted after the 70-56 shootout with Wake Forest, is sleeping it off this weekend.  Next week: Air Force.

Air Force couldn’t quite bring it off against San Diego State last week, and stands now at 6-2.  The Falcons are off this weekend before the meet with Army.  Sensing a pattern here.

Virginia Tech is 3-4 after the heartbreaker versus Syracuse, and heads to Georgia Tech for their Storied Rivalry, the Battle of the Techs, on Saturday in the early slot.  Georgia Tech, also 3-4, has beaten UNC and Duke in conference so far, but also lost narrowly to NIU and badly to Pitt.  The Yellow Jackets are giving 4 in their house.  This is one VT is capable of winning, but as always, we’ll see.

Nevada is now up 20-0 on scabies-scabbed UNLV.  Here’s the obligatory glamour shot of the Fremont Cannon in Nevada blue, which our long-time correspondents know and love.

The Fremont Cannon, righteously adorned in Nevada blue. Wikipedia

Real Cannon.

LSU had its persistent 2021 issues in the loss last week to Ole Miss, and we’re not sanguine about reflection and renewal being beneficial during this weekend’s off time.  That’s too bad, as Alabama is coming up on 6 November.

TCU is 3-4 after the loss to West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, last week.  The Toads head to Manhattan for the Big 12 Purple-Off with Kansas State, now 4-3 and coming off a 25-24 squeaker over Texas Tech.  The Wildcats are giving 3.

Toledo surged to 4-4, 2-2 conference, with the win over Western Michigan last week.  The Rockets remain in the bowl hunt, although NIU would have to lose a lot in the last four games to make them a MAC contender.

The good news:  weeknight MAC play starts next week!  And you’ll never guess who’s playing on 2 November, the night of that unspeakable election brouhaha going down in Virginia and New Jersey.  That’s right:  our very own Toledo Rockets.  Watching them host Eastern Michigan will be much preferable to hanging out with newscasters on Tuesday night.  ESPN2, 6:30 PM Central.  No line yet; EMU is bubbling gently mid-pack with the entire MAC West, 2-2 conference and 5-3 overall.  Quality win over Miami (OH) to date, and a respectable one-score 38-31 loss to hot-running Ball State.

We’re so not giving up on Wyoming, in spite of the really epic bout of fumblitis and the three losses in a row.  We believe; and we’re high on the Pokes as they head to San Jose State on Saturday.  The Spartans are 4-4, 2-2 conference, with an early win over Hawaii and a win last week over UNLV.  SJSU is favored by 3.

Top 10

#1 Georgia is at Florida this week for their Storied Rivalry, the battle for the Okefenokee Oar.  The Bulldogs give 14.

The OK-by-us Okefenokee Oar. Twitter

#2 Cincinnati (-27.5) is at Tulane for an AAC clash.

New #3 Alabama has the week off to prepare for the LSU meet on the 6th. 

#5 Ohio State hosts #20 Penn State in the marquee slot Saturday evening for their Storied Rivalry, which we regret to say has no easy-to-assemble Big Lots furniture pieces on the line.  The Buckeyes give 19.5.  Although some might suggest Georgia-Florida as the game of the week, we’re thinking it’ll be this one.

Others might think it would be #6 Michigan (-4) hosting new #8 Michigan State for their Storied Rivalry, which of course has the overgrown Paul Bunyan Hummel figurine as its traveling token.

Debonair Paul Bunyan strikes a pose. Wikipedia: By megstersdad

Oregon bobs back into the top 10 at #7, and is giving 24.5 hosting Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”).

New #9 Iowa is at Wisconsin for its own date with destiny, battling the Badgers in their Storied Rivalry for the Heartland Trophy.  The Heartland Trophy, you may remember, is a brass bull mounted on wood.  We only hope PETA, which is so put out by baseball having “bullpens,” doesn’t know about the Heartland Trophy.

Wisconsin gives 3.  We salute Badger bettors for their crust.

New #10 Ole Miss heads to #18 Auburn (-3) for their Storied Rivalry on Saturday evening.

Best of the rest

A few other Storied Rivalries enliven the schedule this weekend, such as Fresno State at #21 San Diego State in their battle for the Oil Can.  It’s most gratifying when the rivalry game matters to the Mountain West, as it does this season with SDSU atop the West Division at 7-0, and Fresno State right behind at 6-2, with one conference loss to Hawaii.

The much-festooned oil can, memorabilia from a leakier time.

But, of course, we appreciate the heck out of fighting endlessly over garage-hoarder junk, especially with an automotive theme.  Bulldogs are giving 1-ish.

Boston College will be at Syracuse (-6.5) for their Storied Rivalry.

And Georgia State will be at Georgia Southern for their late-coming but already Storied Rivalry, dubbed “Modern Day Hate,” with GAST giving 6 to GASO.

Among other selections for the weekend, we can recommend #22 Iowa State (-7.5) at West Virginia, Miami (Da U) at #17 Pitt (-9), #19 SMU at Houston (pick-em), and North Carolina at #11 Notre Dame (-3.5).

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State is 3-4 after finally getting a win over Incarnate Word in their third meet in 2021.  Go Pokes!  The Cowboys get their second crack at Southeastern Louisiana this fall (with the Southland remnant holding multiple match-ups as explained last week), 28 days after the first clash on 2 October, which SELA won 38-35.  SELA is 6-1 now, and #8 in the Coaches Poll.  So:  you know.

The game will be at SELA’s crib in Hammond, east of Baton Rouge off the I-12, and frankly, in our view, suspiciously close to Tickfaw, Louisiana, which has the interesting distinction of having been founded by Italian-American immigrants, and, we are told, still having a “distinct Italian-American heritage.”

We tried to discover what Italian is for “Tickfaw,” but without success.  We’re gratified, however, to see that the main drag through town, Highway 442, features the requisite First Baptist Church of Tickfaw, and the obligatory Tickfaw Baptist Church, within 400 feet of each other.  Some cultural patterns, even an Italian heritage can’t supersede.  Temps should top out around 70 in Hammond, with partly cloudy skies, at the 4 PM game start.

In Div II, Slippery Rock inched up to #15 in the Coaches Poll after prevailing over Mercyhurst last week, 20-17.  (We note, because we have a bad attitude, that the Colorado School of Mines finally lost last week, to new #22 Colorado Mesa, and has tumbled to #14.  Someone seems determined to keep the School of Mines ranked above SRU no matter what it takes.  Meanwhile, California-PA has vaulted to #4 with a win over Indiana-PA, loading SRU’s match versus CUP on 6 November with more freight than they’ve got swinging at anchor off Long Beach.)

SRU’s next challenge is visiting PSAC opponent Gannon U. (Erie, PA) this Saturday.  Gannon, 4-4, is coming off a win over Edinboro in the Chick-fil-A Promotional Game, for which we congratulate Gannon and Chick-fil-A.

Saturday will donate a 50F and rain to the noon kickoff in Erie.

Central Oklahoma is hanging in at 4-4 after a respectable loss to Washburn, and breaks next for Pittsburg State (Pittsburg, KS) on Saturday.  The 6-2 Pittsburg State Gorillas won’t be a pushover, with losses only to ranked Nebraska-Kearney and Northwestern Missouri State.

The game starts at 1 PM, making it unlikely fans will get to see much of Halloween Harvest in Pittsburg, which looks like a lot of fun.  There’s a Boo-Tique Crawl down Main Street, among other attractions (to which visitors are invited to show up in costume), and the Pittsburg Community Theater is putting on a live performance of Aric Cushing’s stage adaptation of Dracula.  You’d think the play might run after dark, but it’s scheduled for a 2 PM opening curtain, lining it up inconveniently an hour into the football game.

We are pleased to note, at least, that Pittsburg has a Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Store.  Sunny and mid-60s for the 1 PM game start.

In Div III, Rose-Hulman is 5-2 and topping the HCAC after grinding Manchester to dust 57-14 last week.  Long-time rival Mount St. Joseph lost narrowly (and unexpectedly) to Defiance, 14-13, last week as well, dropping MSJ below Hanover, which RHIT has already beaten (on 9 October).  So the rivalry meet of RHIT and MSJ on 13 November – the last game of the season – is likely to be epic.

This Saturday, Rose-Hulman hosts Bluffton (2-5).  Terre Haute will see mid-50s and mostly cloudy for the 1:30 PM kickoff.

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is 7-0 after defeating Catholic last week, and on Saturday hits the sod at Springfield (Mass.) for its last game before the rivalry clash with Coast Guard on 13 November.  Springfield is 4-3, but while not having its best year is a perennially tough opponent.  Springfield’s football field is named for iconic football pioneer Amos Alonzo Stagg (today known as the patron saint of Div III ball), who inaugurated the school’s football program in 1890, when Springfield was still the International YMCA Training School.

A bird’s-eye view of Springfield’s Stagg Field, with a glimpse of the scoreboard. Via Springfield College Athletics video.

The field’s scoreboard cost $63,000, which we’re betting you didn’t know.  Kickoff in Springfield, at 1 PM, should see temps right around 60 and a significant threat of rain.

Feature image:  Toledo #7 safety Zachary Ford runs 35 yards for a defensive TD off a Western Michigan fumble in the Rockets’ 34-15 win on 23 Oct 2021.  Via ABC 13 Grand Rapids video, YouTube.

26 thoughts on “Football Follies 2021: NCAA week 9”

          1. Week after week, the principal take-away from watching OU is the same: O-line doesn’t walk and chew gum at the same time, and the defense just needs to be at a different level to beat, say, Ohio State or Alabama.

          1. Baylor is not to be trifled with. Obviously, their late 3rd qtr/4th qtr play, against Texas, is a clear warning. I left the preposition(s) dangling, at the end, to give you something to chew on.

            1. Yes, Baylor’s a good 98% back. ISU and OSU will both be big challenges as well. Guess the good news is, if OU can avoid going sideways and stupid, it should be an impressive run from the CFBP+ perspective.

              Totem tectonics.

  1. Hammond is more know for strawberries at adjacent Pontchatoula. This ag industry was started and grown by Hungarian immigrants and also well known for their strawbettry wine. SELA’s Strawberry Stadium is aptly named. They may be the best tasting strawberries around. Travel to Baton Rouge from elsewhere in state meant a side trip to Hammond during strawberry season to pick up a few flats to take home.

    Tickfaw’s claim to fame these days is the home of Kim Mulkey, the diminutive women’s basketball player and coach. Her only perfect record is her GPA, with 4.0 in both high school and college. When Italians took over the Germans as the produce dealers in NOLA around 1900, Italians expanded the truck farmung area supplying vegetables to them from the Northshore (north side of Lake Pontchartrain)

    Go Cowpokes!

    1. I love that Tickfaw has a claim to fame. Might as well be a diminutive basketball player, I guess. 🙂

  2. Sad! No real preference for a winner, in spite of extended family connection (Gorilla-gluing, really) to Blue.

    But I would have liked to see Michigan get a full shot, even if their offense wouldn’t really know what to do with it.

    Ah, well. On to Oklahoma.

    1. Florida D did better than it looked, at least in the first half. The Gator offense was useless.

  3. Confession: did not expect Wisconsin to whale the snot out of Iowa.

    At least VT bagged a W, 26-17 over GT. Didn’t get to see it here.

    Kansas State crunched TCU. Frogs not having their best year, for sure.

    Sorry to see Wyoming take another hit. Still some season left to get to 6 though.

  4. Other ranks roundup.

    McNeese is holding SELA off so far, 7-3 with 4 and change to go in the first half.

    SRU romps over Gannon 63-21 to go to 8-1.

    UCO slips to 4-5 with a respectable 26-20 loss to Pittsburg State.

    Rose-Hulman crunches Bluffton 48-12 to stay atop the HCAC.

    Bummer! Merchant Marine drops to 7-1 with a loss at Springfield. 28-23. Those $63K scoreboards will get you every time. (It IS a bummer, although USMMA is still the class of NEWMAC. May get a post-season Ultra-Sub-Booger invite. Iffy for the Div III tourney though.)

  5. Oh noes!!! I switch away for 10 minutes and suddenly EMU is up 45-28 on Toledo. How’d that happen?

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