Well, we were prepared for the sports information warriors to decide that week 1 actually encompassed everything from week 0.5 to Labor Day Monday, and this week is really week 2, and it’s a good thing we were so prepared. Otherwise, on discovering that, sure enough, Labor Day weekend has been re-labeled as week 1, we wouldn’t have had our Back-Up Plan in place.
But we did, it was, and we now introduce to you Week 2.1: The Galaxy Strikes Back. All the excitement of the Week 2 Phantom Menace, but none of the same games.
What we weren’t prepared for was some way to work in the passing of the late Queen. So we will merely mention it, as we have elsewhere, and add our condolences and a heartfelt R.I.P.
Friday night sees some matches that will probably be enjoyable, with Louisville on an out-of-conference toot at Central Florida (-5.5), followed by Boise State donating 17 at New Mexico.
We note with mild interest that the CFPBQT++– has voted, as most schoolboys now know, to expand the FBS playoffs to a 12-team tournament no later than 2026, and possibly as early as 2024.
We also note with some concern that the first meeting on bumping it to 2024 was held on 8 September “in a small meeting room at the DFW airport for about 4½ hours,” which seems unnecessarily like durance vile. There’s a fine selection of mid-price chain hotels and restaurants in the usual ring around DFW (which granted is the size of Belgium, and that’s just from the boarding gate to the runway), with better-sized meeting rooms and catering options, and it would have been nice to break it up into two sessions. We’ll be interested to see what they came up with.
Meanwhile, the NFL season is kicking off as we type, with Buffalo currently ahead of the Super Bowl champs LA Rams 17-10 in the 3Q. The Rams haven’t been looking like champions this evening. (Bills took it 31-10.)
The NFL is still on probation at TOC, and it committed a major faux pas this week with Gisele apparently not reconciling with Tom or some such thing and causing no end of a ruckus, which kind of nonsense is starting to drive us really batty. Just the football, please. Tom, stop strutting around in traffic and hang it up like a sensible fellow, eh? Enough with the head fakes. It’s not like you wanted one of the coveted insurance ad gigs anyway. Even Rodgers seems to have moved on from that.
We’re doing our best to avoid knowing about any unseemly political gymnastics during the games. If information breaks through in spite of our best efforts, it will be a Sign. Ain’t got time for that. (That said, we may keep a running tally of how low the Washington Commanders should be busted in their fantasy world. Being busted in rank isn’t how officers are dealt with for discipline purposes in real life, but we’ll be sure to let you know if the WFT needs to be the Washington Lieutenants Junior Grade at some point, or God forbid the Ensigns. We should know, of course, as longtime followers of the inexcusable NFC East.)
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, succumbed to Wyoming last week in a barn-burner, but gets a fresh set of quarters on Saturday hosting MAC’s Northern Illinois. The Huskies beat Eastern Illinois (FCS, Ohio Valley) in their first outing, but weren’t exactly dominating in the 34-27 decision, which saw EIU pony up 21 points in the second half. TU’s frisky offense certainly has a chance to bring the 0-1 start to .500. Golden Hurricane gives 6.5.
Oklahoma has for some reason been bumped up to #7 off the expected and non-epic win over UTEP. A development we view with disfavor. The ranking trolls are forever overranking the Sooners early, and it never tuns out well. For our convenience, we’d prefer that sportsbabblers just leave OU at one rank for at least the first month and save everyone a lot of trouble.
The Sooners host Kent State’s Golden Flashes (box; checked) on Saturday at 6 PM Central, and have been dragged by the opponent’s lack of audience interest and advertising power into an ESPN+ appearance. Communism in action. Let this be a lesson.
Oklahoma’s laying 33.
Oklahoma State, edging up one to #11, has the intriguing opponent this week, hosting Arizona State on Saturday. ASU didn’t look half bad blowing out Northern Arizona (FCS, Big Sky) 40-3 last week, which as things have been going for the Sun Devils in recent years is a change. (NAU’s last previous game was a year ago, and was actually a win over a suffering, unpresentable Arizona.) The Sun Devils’ new look comes even after QB Jayden Daniels transferred to LSU from Tempe.
ASU could give the Cowboys a challenge, in other words. And although the oddsquad has OSU favored by 11.5, we assume Gundy will fret and fume as usual and have the Pokes suitably on edge and non-complacent.
Navy dives now into American Conference action, importing Memphis for a Saturday match in Annapolis. Memphis dropped last week’s game to Mississippi State, which isn’t quite the same as losing to Delaware, particularly since the Tigers scored 23 off the Bulldogs, to Navy’s 7 off the Fightin’ Blue Hens. We figure the sooner Coach Niumatalolo (Indian name: Needs a Nickname) gets himself a nickname, the better. Memphis is giving 5.
Army couldn’t pull it out at Coastal Carolina last week, and is 0-1 hosting C-USA’s UT-San Antonio in Michie Stadium on Saturday. The Roadrunners won’t be beanbag. They’re 0-1, but they nearly pulled it off against Houston, losing by only that much – 37-35 – in a tough 3OT marathon. The line has UTSA favored by 3.
Air Force takes its well-ordered pronoun-and-gender protocol out for another spin after the win last week, hosting Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) on Saturday in Colorado Springs. The Buffaloes sucked so badly in their showing against visiting TCU that the line has Air Force giving 18, on the strength of one win over an FCS team. We might not take the points, but we concur the Falcons are likely to win.
Virginia Tech, let’s say, got its annual Incredibly Stupid and Pointless Loss out of the way last week in Norfolk, and can now buckle down and play some football already. Saturday evening sees a renewal of the Storied Rivalry with ACC opponent Boston College, which the Hokies are hosting in Blacksburg. We’re glad they have that advantage, though BC dropped game 1 to Rutgers last week, and will arrive in Lane Stadium matching VT’s 0-1 record.
Memo to Tech: you choose which, but lose at least two of the treacherous trinity: penalties, turnovers, and stupid mistakes. Oh, and feed the O-line their Wheaties this time. Putting some offensive points on the board is where it’s at. Chamarri Conner doesn’t need to spend another game out on the field by himself trying to keep the other team from scoring.
Hokies are favored by 2.5.
Nevada is at 2-0 now after the win over Texas State, which we are very pleased to report, and will be hosting again this weekend when Incarnate Word (FCS, Southland) comes to Reno. UIW is ranked #9 in FCS, incidentally, after a stomping of former #9 Southern Illinois in game 1.
For now the Wolf Pack is atop the MWC-West, though conference play hasn’t really started. Nevada will head to Iowa next week before getting its first MWC bout with Air Force on the 23rd.
LSU produced heart attacks across the fruited plain last week in the frenzied, last-minute loss to Florida State on a missed extra point. We’re still recovering from that one. We’d like to think the special teams learned something from it all. It took a while for the offense, helmed by ASU import Jayden Daniels, to get clicking, but for the final 20 minutes of the game they looked good.
Saturday serves up the first game in Death Valley. Southern’s Jaguars (FCS, Southwestern) will be visiting from across Baton Rouge, so the LSU win won’t repair the 0-1 problem, FBS- and SEC-standings-wise. And we suppose we shouldn’t count any chickens before their time anyway, so we’ll just leave that one right there.
TCU had a most gratifying win at Colorado last week, and takes the homefield in Fort Worth on Saturday to host Tarleton State of Stephenville, TX (FCS, Long Explanation Ensues). Tarleton State is one of the teams that wandered a couple of years ago from their former conferences to resurrect a Western Athletic Conference in the FCS. Since the FBS WAC has been decently buried for years, and who cares about the FCS, that’s probably all you care to know. At any rate, the Frogs’ win over Colorado trumps Tarleton’s win over Mississippi Valley State, and after the TCU offense’s showing in game 1, we’ll take them.
Toledo body-slammed the Sharks last week, and the Rockets are likely to do the same in a bout we can’t help but love: hosting UMass on Saturday in the Glass Bowl. The Minutemen fell to Tulane in game 1, but remain in the hunt, undaunted, for their second-ever FBS win.
Toledo’s really big day out will be on 17 September at Ohio State, and eventually, after another expeditionary event at San Diego State, MAC play will start with Central Michigan on 1 October. In the meantime, the Rockets are giving UMass 28.5.
Wyoming has presumably recovered now from the heart-stopping contest with Tulsa, and will host Northern Colorado (FCS, Big Sky) on Saturday in Laramie. The Bears lost game 1 to Houston Baptist; their coach is Ed McCaffrey, whom old-timers may remember from his receiver years at Stanford, and with the Giants and Broncos in the NFL.
On a hunch, given all the crazy weather, we just checked, and sure enough, rain and 50s are expected in Laramie for the game. It’s 2022.
For now, we’ll keep general Top 10 commentary to a minimum. We’re not so convinced about Michigan at #4. There, we said it. Moving on.
#1 Alabama hosts unranked Texas in a heavily-freighted Expanded SEC preview, giving 20. We’re awarding this one a slight edge as game of the week, though two others are in contention.
New #2 Georgia hosts Samford (FCS, Southern).
New #3 Ohio State (-44.5) hosts Arkansas State.
New #4 Michigan hosts Hawaii for some reason, donating 52.
New #5 Clemson slew Georgia Tech Monday night, and will host Furman’s Paladins (FCS, Southern) on Saturday.
#6 Texas A&M (-19) hosts Appalachian State.
New #8 Notre Dame, having dropped three spots with the loss to Ohio State, hosts Marshall, giving 20.5.
New #9 Baylor will visit #21 BYU. BYU is laying 3 in that one, off a decisive win over South Florida, but we’re smelling Bears here (and you know what Bears do in the woods). What Baylor could manage to accomplish makes this one of our auxiliary back-up games of the week.
New #10 USC, under the aegis of Lincoln Riley, took Rice apart last week. A team of Girl Scouts could take Rice apart, but it was enough to get the ranking trolls stumbling all over themselves to thrust the Trojans up four places in the polls.
USC visits Stanford Saturday, and let’s not kid ourselves: the 8.5 Trojan give is warranted. Besides USC looking quite competent for four solid quarters, the Heathered Cerise had a hard time getting started against FCS opponent Colgate (though they prevailed 41-10 in the end).
This one, of course, is a Storied Rivalry going back to 1905. It’s also the Saturday marquee game, and our other auxiliary back-up game of the week. If either Baylor or USC, both teams with excellent promise, wants to end up in the final four, these are stepping stones to that goal.
Best of the rest
You’d think there’d be more cherce morsels than we’re finding among the also-rans this week. But it’s still largely Overdogs’ Choice with all the cross-ranks gimmes of the early season, and few Storied Rivalries to pick through.
As for the latter, it’s Iowa State-Iowa weekend, with the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy looming and Iowa laying 3.5. This is a goofy one; Iowa looked completely asinine last week, while Iowa State, regardless of how much of a learning curve it’s on, always manages to play the in-state rival tough. The bettors have their work cut out for them, but seem to reflect about where most observers would come down on the matter.
The current Cy-Hawk Trophy is frankly a bit creepy.
But this is an interesting case of the current one being no worse than the previous two, and perhaps marginally better than at least one. They go through a lot of trophy designs in Iowa.
In general action, we have a feeling #24 Tennessee at #17 Pitt will be pretty entertaining. If you’re a cognoscento, you know why the Vols are giving 6.5 in the line.
Likewise #20 Kentucky at #12 Florida. Both teams have improved enough to confer interest on this one. Gators are favored by 6.5.
Surprisingly, Mississippi State and Arizona haven’t played before. The Bulldogs will be at Wildcats for Saturday’s nightcap, Dogs giving 10.5
In FCS, McNeese State had an unfortunate 40-17 encounter with Montana State last week, and we figure it’s kind of a toss-up whether the game this coming Saturday will be a bigger opportunity. The Cowboys head to Houston to take on Rice. Rice was lately disassembled by USC, but we wouldn’t call that an informative fall of the chicken entrails, since we haven’t seen McNeese play yet. We may get to tomorrow; the game will be carried by ESPN3.
Kickoff is at 6:30 PM, with 80s and partly cloudy conditions.
In Div II, Slippery Rock made short work of Wayne State in a 42-10 stroll, and heads to West Chester, PA on Saturday to continue shaking out the out-of-conference wiggles. WCU is also coming in off a win over Bentley University (Waltham, Mass.) of the Northeast-10 Conference.
We’re sure you knew that First Lady Jill Biden is an alumna of WCU. But you may not have known that it’s also Stanley Weintraub’s alma mater, as well as that of rapper Asher Roth, with whose oeuvre we have now become acquainted. You can find it on YouTube, and presumably other online locations, where such gems as “I Love College” lurk.
We feel that West Chester’s turreted community center on High Street is an excellent precaution, especially with the small battlements in case there’s a need to deploy overwatch. America’s college towns are less apt than you might imagine to think of these things.
It looks like rain in West Chester will hold off until Sunday, and Saturday’s noon kickoff should see a delightful 80 under partly cloudy skies.
Central Oklahoma took a severe 35-0 beating in Missouri last week, but this week has already prevailed (Thursday night) over Emporia State (Emporia, KS) in a 21-13 home stand. The Bronchos’ next game will be 17 September at Missouri Southern in Joplin (Pride of I-44).
In Div III, Rose-Hulman dropped last week 17-14 to DePauw in Greencastle, IN. This week the Engineers will host Trine University (Long Explanation; sort of from Angola, IN; non-conference) in Terre Haute. RHIT played Trine last year as well, bringing home a 31-30 W. Last Saturday Trine wiped the turf with RHIT’s conference running mate Anderson (Ind.), 38-0, so they’re probably not a pushover.
With an unusual nighttime game start at 7 PM Central, expect spitting rain setting in and temps dropping through the 70s.
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy came up on the short end of 17-7 versus FDU-Florham on 2 September, a leisurely contest in which neither team bothered to rack up much in the way of yardage. Energy conservation is good.
The Mariners have this one off, and will next take on conference rival SUNY Maritime on 17 September.
Feature image: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where FBS conference bosses make shady backroom deals in “small meeting rooms.” Wikipedia: Tom Walsh – Own work