Football Follies 2022: NCAA Week 12

Rivalries big and bigger as the season matures.

For some reason we’re always a bit suspicious of high rankings for Oregon, but we admit, the loss to Washington last week was unexpected.  Let the “what ifs?” now proliferate, for the PAC 12 and yea, even unto the C#@Pflugenheimer.

For some other reason (probably; though in a metaphysical sense who knows), we had major computer problems this past weekend, and had no means of chiming in with the usual facts & insights as football did its roll.  It appears that running a diagnostic and system clean-up has put the evil boxes back on the path of righteousness.

We can’t proceed with this week’s Follies without mentioning the heartbreaking loss suffered by the Virginia Cavaliers on Sunday night in the shooting of a team charter bus.  UVA has cancelled this week’s game with Coastal Carolina because of it.  The suspect is in custody and law enforcement will do its job, but it is always with melancholy and grief that we remark on this being thought of as finding “justice.”  Such justice can’t be done by humans on this earth.

We pray for full and quick recovery for Mike Hollins and Marlee Morgan (the latter a UVA student who was on the bus and injured in the shooting).

We wish the team, friends, and families of Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry comfort and peace in their sorrow. Nothing can replace the promise of those young men.  R.I.P.

We were saddened to see Toledo not quite get a comeback done in the Storied Rivalry with Bowling Green Tuesday night.  But who needs a silly old trophy in the shape of an Interstate highway sign.  Overrated.  Congratulations to BSGU.

Tulsa plays for us Friday night, kicking off our Inner Circle weekend early.   There are some juicy, major Storied Rivalries coming up this weekend, with others slotted in for Thanksgiving weekend as the season roars its last.  The Inner Circle has its share in both.

In NFL matters, we just have to spit this out in passing.  The question might arise, who could object to not one but two NFL teams coming to the Los Angeles viewing area?  Well, the answer is, we could.  Fox’s big, feature game of the week, touted for days before Sunday the 13th, was Dallas at Green Bay.  But, speaking as a lifelong Cowboys fan, we didn’t get it here, because of the dang LA NFL teams.  Some programming moron seems to imagine LA-area viewers want to see an LA-area team instead of the Dallas Cowboys.

There is no excuse for this.  The universe has some hustling to do, and we’re not going to forgive it any time soon.

If we’d been watching, the Cowboys would have pulled it out in O/T instead of the Packers.  Rage, rage, against the dying of the light and all that.  (Speaking of which, it’s dark at 4:30 PM in these parts now.  Another good reason why the weekday MAC Attack! is a timely blessing each year in November.)

Tennessee’s Titans will be at Green Bay Thursday night.

Inner Circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, has gotten the perilous moment behind it, crossed the rainbow bridge for the year, and is now 3-7 with no prospect of bowl eligibility.  Ironically enough, this now means Tulsa is ready to be favored in Friday night’s match with visiting South Florida, which granted is 1-9 and terrible this year.

The Tulsa D last week held Memphis better than all but a couple of teams this season, continuing to demonstrate the chops of an increasingly impressive program, now under DC Luke Olson after three years of Joe Gillespie.  But the offense is hurting for linemen, QB starter Davis Brin is again a game-time decision (and I’m betting against much if any play, now that no bowl eligibility is on the line), and backup Braylon Braxton, though promising, hasn’t found his balance yet.  TU gives 13.5.  Roar, Hurricane, roar!!

Oklahoma whiffed again in a close one with West Virginia, pride of the Big 12.  Attending family members in Morgantown didn’t get their job done, though the weather was probably some excuse for them.

At any rate, OU will be hosting #22 Oklahoma State for the Storied Bedlammm!!!! Rivalry on Saturday night in the marquee slot on ABC, for whatever good that does anyone.  OU is well out of Big 12 contention; the Cowboys aren’t likely to edge anyone out at this point.  We’re just clinging to a hope that the Sooners will win one more and be bowl eligible, so maybe they’ll get an invite to the O’Grady’s Bar-B-Q Kitchen and Hardware Emporium Bowl in East Bugsplat or something.

Though all three of Oklahoma’s FBS teams have had quarterback-itis this fall, both OU and OSU will have their starters back for Bedlam (respectively, Dillon Gabriel and Spencer Sanders).  That at least is good news.  OK-State is 7-3 and ranked; OU is 5-5 and not, but the chronically D-deficient Sooners are giving 7.5 because Sooner bettors start their hearts by plowing the North 40 every morning with their noses and a fish fork.

Navy is 3-7 and out of the Booger Bowl hunt after the narrow, truly heartbreaking loss to new #18 Notre Dame last week.  The Mids dust themselves off and head to #20 Central Florida for an AAC clash in Orlando on Saturday at 11 AM.  The Golden Knights are 8-2 and standing first in the American, having narrowly defeated second-place (now #25) Cincinnati a few weeks ago.  So we’re hopeful for Navy, as always, but let’s say we’re not complacent.  UCF is favored by 16.5.

Army fell to Troy last week, and is 3-6 hosting UConn on Saturday at West Point.  There’s no reason Army can’t win the final three (UMass and Navy wrap it up) and get a Booger Bowl, but of course on 10 December you know who we’ll be rooting for.  The Black Knights are donating 10 in their house.

Air Force, meanwhile, 7-3 and our fair-haired child among the service academies, has a Storied Rivalry to knock out on Saturday, hosting Colorado State in their clash for one of the all-time great rivalry tokens, the Ram-Falcon Trophy.  CSU, of course, comes off the loss to Wyoming minus a Bronze Boot, and is now facing the absence of the Ram-Falcon Trophy (about what you’d expect, a Ram and a Falcon, and wildlife is just all right with us) for a whole entire year.

The reason to pine for this trophy should be obvious.  It’s under Plexiglass.  If you can say your trophy is tidily secured under Plexiglass, you can talk.  Yeah.

Air Force has lost to Boise State and has no shot at the MWC title match, but we’re expecting an excellent Booger Bowl on the season.  Meanwhile, they’re giving the Rams 22.

Virginia Tech has dropped to 2-8 with the loss to Duke, and while QB Grant Wells could really use an offensive line, there’s such a variety of other things haunting the Hokies that we just hope they’re learning a lot this year.  They’ll head a few dozen miles up the road to Lynchburg on Saturday to take on Liberty U. of the Independents, which at 8-2 is currently atop the Independents standings, for which we congratulate them.

Next week, the Storied Rivalry with Virginia.  We send our condolences out again to the Cavaliers for their tragic loss in the awful shooting on 13 November.  It’s hard to have the heart to misnomer them in such circumstances.

And here’s a sentence we never thought we’d write:  the Liberty Flames are favored by 10 over VT.

Nevada succumbed pretty much as expected to Boise State last week, and is 2-8 hosting Fresno State in a Saturday nightcap.  Fresno State is 6-4 and the MWC-West division leader, as opposed to Nevada’s current role as the division cellar-dweller.  Some seasons are like that.  It’s all good.

Last week it was snowing in Reno for the epic contest with the Broncos.  This Saturday night it will be in the 30s in Mackay, dropping into the 20s, but skies are predicted to be crystal clear.  The visiting Bulldogs are laying 22.5.

New #6 LSU edged up a slot with the narrow rivalry win over Arkansas, and more importantly, bore off the marvelously inexcusable Golden Boot to its proper home in Baton Rouge, merci beaucoup.

On Saturday they’ll be hosting U-Alabama Birmingham (5-5) for a patented SEC creampuff break (though we applaud them for bringing in an FBS team, rather than an FCS lamb to the slaughter for the November intermission game, which is what some of those SEC clubs do).

LSU’s fate is largely in LSU’s hands at this point; they’re locked in to face #1 Georgia in the SEC championship on 3 December (geaux!), and assuming they beat UAB and Texas A&M, will be doing everything they can to make the CFP-berth case.  We’re gunning for them here at the TOC Football Commentary Service.  They’re giving the Blazers 14.5 on Saturday.  Geaux! 

Our own #4 TCU is breathing the mountain air of 10-0 after the scrappy win over Texas in Austin.  Saturday sees a YUUGE three-fer: the Frogs’ big Storied Rivalry with Baylor (oh boy), and defense of that winning record not only for the momentum going into Big 12 title contention, but for the playoff slot that is now tantalizingly close.

We don’t even want to speculate on how LSU and TCU could both make the playoffs, though we’re reasonably sure it would involve Ohio State beating Michigan.  At any rate, for the time being TCU has to concentrate on beating Baylor, which is no small task.  The 6-4 Bears always play the Horned Frogs tough, and TCU will face them in their house in Waco.  Sportsbabblers across the nation are smelling upset – but we’re pulling for our purple people eaters to get it done once again.

The Storied Rivalry, going back to 1899, will be played for the 118th time this week.  The odds-nod is 2.5 from Sonny D and the Horned Hoppers on Saturday morning.

Toledo is locked in for MAC championship weekend on 3 December, in spite of the aforementioned rivalry loss to Bowling Green on Tuesday night.  It’s not clear yet if the title game opponent will be Ohio, or a second whack at Bowling Green; those two MAC-East leaders will settle the point on 22 November.

But Toledo has one more regular season match a week from Friday, on 25 November, at Western Michigan.  We bid farewell to the Rockets on early weeknights, and will preview the Broncos game in next week’s exciting edition.

Wyoming killed us almost dead last week in the 14-13 win over Colorado State.  But we survived, and our hearts are glad, and now we have the game of the season coming up on Saturday as the Cowboys host division rival Boise State in what looks to be the decisive face-off for the MWC-Mountain in 2022.  Both teams are 7-3; BSU is 6-0 conference and Wyoming is 5-1.  So you see how things can go, and we sure hope they’ll be going our way.

It’s been snowing in Laramie with the front going through, but although temps should drop below zero F before it’s said and done, and will top out at freezing on Saturday, the frigid evening match should see clear, starry mountain skies.  Both teams are used to it.  The Broncos are laying 14.5.

Illinois, like Texas, is now a favored lurker just under the 25 mark, after a painful loss to Purdue last week.  As with TCU and Baylor, the sportsbabblers are whispering “upset” as the Illini head to their big fight at #3 Michigan on Saturday – and we’d sure like to have that to celebrate (much as we otherwise appreciate Michigan, if not necessarily all of the team employees, because of extended-family fans who were dyed blue decades ago and it’s in their DNA).

This Storied Rivalry, while it doesn’t involve silly gadgets, goes back to 1898, when the world was newer, and will be played for Round 97 on Saturday morning.  Our concern at the moment is for RB Chase “1,442 yards” Brown, whose leg injury we understand to still be in the iffy category, though improving.  Beating the Wolverines is a much longer shot without Brown.

Tommy DeVito, healthy and solid from recent reports, will need better O-line protection than he’s had all season against Michigan’s defensive marauders.  The Illinois D under Coach Bielema and staff is notably sturdy; Michigan’s offense is beatable.  This is another early game on Saturday, and a biggie for the Illini.  Blue is favored by 18.  Fight, Illini!

Top 10

#1 Georgia (-22.5) will be at Kentucky.

#2 Ohio State is giving 37.5 at Maryland.

#5 Tennessee (-21.5) heads to South Carolina (motto: The Other USC).

New #7 USC has its YUUGE cross-town Storied Rivalry match with #16 UCLA in Pasadena, Trojans laying 2.5.

New #8 Alabama will be creaming a creampuff hosting Austin Peay (FCS, Ohio Valley).

New #9 Clemson (-19) hosts Miami (Da U).  Clemson and #13 North Carolina will play for the ACC title on 3 December.

New #10 Utah has a major PAC-12 clash with new #12 Oregon in Eugene Saturday night.  As of now, no one is locked in for the conference championship match, because the Youths and Ducks are both 8-2/6-1 conference, and Utah has already beaten conference leader USC, which is 9-1/7-1 conference.  So this game couldn’t be bigger – nor can the Trojans afford to lose the Storied Rivalry game to UCLA.

The potential in the TCU-Baylor and Illinois-Michigan games may be bigger, but we’re thinking, if provisionally, that the PAC-12 nail-biter in Oregon is the game of the week.  O-Ducks are giving 2.

Best of the rest 

In Storied Rivalry action, Wisconsin will be at Nebraska to play for the Freedom Trophy, a marvelous token that looks to us like a dessert someone is about to set on fire.

The Freedom Trophy, Wisconsin side. (Image via Huskers.com)

It’s actually an American flag on top, with the stadium walls of the two schools on either side below, so you can see how it all makes you think of freedom.  The trophy dates to 2014; the rivalry, though dating to 1901, will see only its 16th meeting on Saturday.  The Badgers are giving 12.5.

Indiana, we are gratified to say, will finally be making its Storied Rivalry appearance at Michigan State for the Old Brass Spittoon.  The only good spittoon is an Old Brass one, as far as we’re concerned, and we follow this superb rivalry with great interest. 

The Old Brass Spittoon, which we don’t want to think about trying to, er, precision strike. MLive image

We assume the Spittoon is properly sanitized for handling on the field, but we just try not to think about it too much.  The 69th meeting is heading our way, with Sparty-cus laying 10.5.

Boston College, for its part, will be at #18 Notre Dame to play for the Ireland Trophy in their Storied Rivalry for the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl.  This is one of Notre Dame’s interminable series of Holy Wars, and naturally not the only one to be played for cut crystal, because as much as you may not immediately think “cut crystal” in these circumstances, there’s a whole bunch of Arsh who do.  The Fighting Arsh are favored by 21.

Cal will host Stanford Saturday afternoon for their Storied Rivalry, the battle for the Safety-mounted Axe-head.  The first game in this series was played in 1892, so we suppose something was bound to have been safety-mounted since then.  We are pleased to report that the pre-game bonfire has also been resumed after being addressed with a safer bonfire torch.  We note that it is still, you know, a bonfire, but we’re sure a safer torch makes a difference.

The Stanford Axe-head, downblended with a home-improvement store backing. Social media

In the spirit of the great rivalry, we offer this poignant passage from Aristophanes’ play The Frogs, the source of alliterative inspiration for the “Give ’em the axe!” battle cry associated with this game.

ΒΑΤΡΑΧΟΙ

βρεκεκεκὲξ κοὰξ κοάξ,

βρεκεκεκὲξ κοὰξ κοάξ.

λιμναῖα κρηνῶν τέκνα,

ξύναυλον ὕμνων βοὰν

φθεγξώμεθ᾽, εὔγηρυν ἐμὰν ἀοιδάν,

κοὰξ κοάξ,

ἣν ἀμφὶ Νυσήιον

Διὸς Διόνυσον ἐν

Λίμναισιν ἰαχήσαμεν,

ἡνίχ᾽ ὁ κραιπαλόκωμος

τοῖς ἱεροῖσι Χύτροισι

χωρεῖ κατ᾽ ἐμὸν τέμενος λαῶν ὄχλος.

βρεκεκεκὲξ κοὰξ κοάξ.

[…]

ΔΙΟΝΥΣΟΣ

ἀλλ᾽ ἐξόλοισθ᾽ αὐτῷ κοάξ·

οὐδὲν γάρ ἐστ᾽ ἀλλ᾽ ἢ κοάξ

(Source:  Aristophanes’ Frogs, a Dual Language Edition, Translated by Ian Johnston.  Edited by Evan Hayes and Stephen Nimis. Faenum Publishing: Oxford, Ohio, 2015.  PDF pp. 23-24)

Cal is laying 5.

If you thought we were going to forget Iowa at Minnesota for Floyd of Rosedale, the Bronze Pig, you don’t know us very well.  We’ve been waiting for Floyd all season.  There isn’t much that’s bigger than Floyd, when all’s said and done.

At this point, there’s not much new to update you on as regards Floyd the Original, who perished in 1936, or his bronze image, commissioned shortly thereafter.  But his brief life had a feature oddly pertinent to our present day.

Floyd of Rosedale, Pig without peer. Wikipedia

After Iowa’s and Minnesota’s governors agreed to pony up prize livestock to the winning state in the 1935 game, an Iowa hog farmer, the owner of Rosedale Farms, offered Floyd to Iowa Governor Clyde L. Herring as the Hawkeye State’s end of the bet.  Herring surrendered the pig after Minnesota won the match, and Floyd went off to the family farm of Mr. Donald Gjerdrum.

Sadly, however, in spite of excellent care, Floyd lasted only nine more months – because he was…wait for it…unvaccinated.

Iowa (6-4) had another basically idiotic football game with Wisconsin last week, but managed to win it 24-10.  Nevertheless, Minnesota (7-3) is favored by 2.5 on Saturday.

The Storied Rivalries should keep most folks busy enough.  But for those with a taste for the unprecedented, we note that Missouri (-29) will be hosting New Mexico State Saturday evening for their first-ever match, and UMass will have its inaugural outing at Texas A&M (-33.5).

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State is up to 3-7 after defeating Houston Christian, and has one more shot in the season finale hosting Lamar U. (Beaumont, TX) on Saturday.  We’re very proud of their improvement since mid-season.  We’re pulling for the Pokes once more, and quite possibly not in vain given Lamar’s 1-9 record. 

Naturally, rain and 40s are expected Saturday as the front pushes through Lake Charles.  Kickoff is at 7 PM.

In Div II, though we’re bummed to report that Slippery Rock slipped to 9-2 with a narrow 23-21 loss to Kutztown last week, we can still announce with excitement that SRU made the playoffs, and will be at Assumption U. in Worcester, MA on Saturday.  The Rock did take a dive from #9 to #20 in the poll.

Assumption’s Greyhounds play in the Northeast 10 Conference and come in 8-2, the conference champion, and a lurker in the Div II polling.  (Interestingly, Assumption beat Kutztown 3-0 in an out-of-conference match in Week 1 of 2022.)

We figure the Rock certainly has a chance, especially given the sunny, if chilly (right around 40F) conditions for the noon game start up in Worcester.  Go Rock!

Central Oklahoma finished the season 6-5 last week with a 13-10 win over Central Missouri, and we couldn’t be prouder.  Well done, Bronchos!  We’ll be on the watch for any prospect of post-season goat-ropes or fancy dances.

In Div III, Rose-Hulman put up a very good fight against rival Mount St. Joe last week, but succumbed in the end 40-31.  RHIT retires honorably from 2022 standing second in Heartland, at 6-4 overall/6-1 conference, and earning plaudits from TOC.

MSJ, meanwhile, is now ranked #20 in the Div III poll, and the Lions face Alma College (Alma, MI) in the first round of the tournament on Saturday.  We wish them the best.

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy justified its season last Saturday, beating Coast Guard in a peppy, hard-fought 41-33 Storied Rivalry match.  First-year Head Coach Jameson Croall has done a great job with them, bagging a winning 6-3 season and prevailing in the big rivalry game.  Awesome photo finish, Mariners!

 

Feature image:  Wyoming WR #9 Alex Brown brings in a TD throw from QB #12 Jayden Clemons to seal a 14-13 win for the Cowboys in the rivalry game with Colorado State, 12 Nov 2022.  Mountain West highlights (CBS Sports), YouTube

18 thoughts on “Football Follies 2022: NCAA Week 12”

  1. Did not realize you spoke Ancient. Very impressed. I am very proud to announce OU is still in the Top 100. Baylor by 3. Will be on the alert for any Disturbance in the Force during the Holidays. Those lonely two lane roads are calling. BTW, I still owe you pics from the Wild West Dalhart Cemetery. Speaking of which: Warren Spahn is buried in Hartshorne. He owned a ranch there. Will Sampson, 10 Bears and Chief Bromden, is buried in Graves Creek Cemetery, Hitchita, Oklahoma.

    1. Don’t speak Ancient. Just know how to find side-by-side texts. 🙂
      (As it happens, I did have an idea what I was looking for, having read Frogs many years ago in school, and recalling how annoyed Dionysius was by the frog chorus.)

      We’ll see if the Sooners are still in that distinguished Top 100 after tonight. Sigh.

      Looking forward to the Dalhart Cemetery gallery.

      1. My Baylor prediction: missed it by that much. The end zone pick, at the half, took care of all that prediction stuff. Best regards OC!

  2. McNeese has come a long way after starting the season with a decimated roster. Seems that the previous head coach had a lot of players who were having fun instead of making the grade in school. Zero discipline at all.

    LSU seems to have a different person step up each game, or combination of players. Perkins missed a lot of assignments early in the year and why he didn’t shine back then as the LB/Nickleback he has become. The raw talent was there all along.

    All I know is that all my shopping and errands are done through Saturday. Traffic will be bad getting out of this neighborhood even with UAB in town.

    FWIW, Coach Kelly formed a partnership with Fort Polk and had NCOs and Jr officers lecture the team on leadership skills before the season. A deal was also made to give free tickets to everyone at Ft Polk to at least one LSU game, or over a series of home games. Great to see such partnership.

    If only LSU had of matured enough to beat Tennessee earlier. They will likely fall short of making the playoffs IF they should meet an underwhelmed playing flat Bulldogs team in the SEC championship game and win

    1. Well, Michigan didn’t help LSU out. I doubt Ohio State will either, although they’re asleep in College Park at the moment.

      Good on Kelly for calling on the folks at Fort Polk. Excellent place to go for leadership training. It’ll be interesting to see how far he can take the team. Notre Dame could always line up a season-full of quality opponents, but never had the advantages of a Power 5 conference while he was there.

      Certainly hadn’t heard about the academic issues at McNeese. Not a big topic for LA-area sports coverage. It appears there’s real improvement since the early season, which is typically due to good coaching, so a wide-open future is in the cards.

      Good call on having the errands and shopping wrapped up.

      1. My daughter was in the McNeese administration until she took a similar higher paying position at K State during the summer.

        The leadership lectures partially account for the turnaround in team culture and why they didn’t fold after that first game.

        Allowing ESPN to dictate time of game is failure and reason for the crowd leaving at halftime. Also, a friend who grew up in northern Wyoming remarked that 40 degree misty day in Louisiana felt colder than anything he had ever experienced in Montana or Wyoming.

    1. But their OC – still thinks he can run the ball into 9 man boxes stacked against you when you NEED a first down. Nice effort, but shows once again we need better OL line play. We have Northwestern next week, should finish 8-4, which is much better than we expected when the season started. It gets us a decent bowl. We are ahead of schedule.

      1. Yeah, it almost looked like they were overcoached to protect DeVito and didn’t have the running-play mindset, up on the line. Wolverines are too good a D to not take advantage of that.

        My instincts were spot-on about watching to the end, unfortunately. But as you say, ahead of schedule. Illinois has gotten noticeably better since Week 1. A good bowl should be a given, assuming the win vs Northwestern.

  3. Well, Navy, huh? Great job knocking off #20 Central Florida. Wow.

    And Army mushed all over UConn. Nice. The elder academies haven’t had their greatest year, but they’re finishing strong.

    Indiana hung in there to tote off that Spittoon in overtime.

    And Virginia Tech getting past Independents leader Liberty: priceless. Better days are ahead for the Hokies.

    OK. OK, and TCU with the patented Big Comeback squeaker over Baylor. Had to save that one for last. Ribbit!! Never give up on 2022’s Toads.

    Ohio State and Georgia both looking sluggish with their lackluster leads so far.

    Guess I’ll have to check and see if Texas A&M’s offense was put under a paralyzing curse or something, scoring only 20 on UMass.

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