Black Friday is a treat to those with the day off. You can eat leftovers, morning drink, catch a bonus day of football — better yet, most of the contests are rivalries and you still get your regular Saturday football. This is one of my favorite days of the regular season.
So, here’s what we’re going to keep an eye on today and why it’s passably important (or at least plausibly entertaining.) In a nutshell: everyone’s getting fired.
Your schedule is below in EST, and as always courtesy of Joe Piechowski at Bruins Nation. Speaking of: make no mistake, after the worst AD in America finally pulled the plug on Mora, the probability of Chip Kelly landing in Westwood is a near-mortal lock (sorry, Gata.) The Bruins and Kelly have been making moony-eyes at each other for months, so that’s one happy fanbase. See? One firing already in the books.
Western Michigan at Toledo (-13.5) 11:30 EST
One of the better MAC rivalries going. The Broncos took a small step backwards after losing PJ Fleck, but the Rockets absorbed the loss of Matt Campbell to Iowa State significantly better. Like Campbell before him, HC and former-Toledo OC Jason Candle is a name to watch in the offseason carousel. The Glass Bowl is also a pretty raucous little venue to watch a game. Give it a shot. No one’s getting fired, but Candle could be gone.
Navy at Houston (-4.5) 12:00 EST
These teams have underacheived, no doubt. I think we expected Major Applewhite to stagger a bit at Houston (6-5,) but the Middies have straight up disappointed at 6-4. Houston has a better defense than its pass-first counterparts on offense, but Navy’s secondary is still a bit of a mess. Also on-tap for Navy? Next week’s showdown with 8-2 Army. Radical contrast in styles here (which is one of the reasons the AAC is so entertaining.) No one’s getting fired, but the Huskers are thinking about an option coach: Ken Niumatalolo is as good as they come.
Baylor at No. 12 TCU (-24.5) 12:00 EST
Don’t watch this game. It should be terrible. One of the first things Matt Rhule has worked on in Waco is rebuilding the defense. The Bears are a lot better than the last few iterations. The offense is dreadful though. Still, TCU has a tough time scoring at times this season, so this one may be a little closer and a lot lower scoring than you’d imagine. Still, it’s important only for the B12CG pairing: Win and it’s a rematch with the Sooners. If the Frogs lose this, feel free to point and laugh Ft. Worth’s way. Also distracting, the annual Garry Patterson to ____ rumors. Not fired, but the flirting is enough. And Baylor should be shot into the sun and experience the cleansing fire of nuclear fusion.
No. 2 Miami at Pitt (+11.5) 12:00 EST
Old-school Big East rivalry renewed. There are a couple of reasons this could be the definition of a trap game: 1. The ‘Canes have punched their ticket to the ACCCG against Clemson before dozens of excited fans next week. 2. The Panthers have improved dramatically as the season has gone by. 3. Miami hasn’t played great from home. 4. The ‘Canes have just 13 players on the 101-man roster from places that even get cold enough for snow 5. Temp at kickoff? 37 degrees. Temperature in Miami? 81 degrees. They’ll be miserable. 6. Mark Richt can choke away winnable games. No one’s getting fired in this one.
Missouri at Arkansas (+9.5) 2:30 EST
Someone’s getting fired, and as of a month ago both should have been fired. Embattled Barry Odom is whacking bad SEC teams that are losing/have lost their coach. The Tigers are bowl eligible but are nowhere near as good as their 5-game winning streak suggests. The Hogs are eliminated from postseason play and will have a new coach by Christmas — and everyone knows who’s first on their list. There’s absolutely no reason for this game to be close, especially with Arkansas’ porous defense. You kind of sense the players just want to move on. How Bielema handles his exit is going to play a large part in how softly he lands (that rumored $5.78m buyout cushions the blow a lot.)
USF at No. 15 UCF (-9.5) 3:30 EST
The AAC is getting shafted a bit by the Playoff Committee. USF has one loss, UCF none. The winner of this game will face one-loss Memphis, likely for a New Year’s Six Bowl bid. Both teams run the power spread, with the Knights having the advantage in passing and pass defense. But, can they hold up against a team that absolutely comes at you on the ground 70 times a game? This is their first test. Should be the barn burner of the regular season in the AAC. One big distraction is that Scott Frost is being mentioned in conjunction with nearly every open job and USF’s Charlie Strong is getting consideration for a few as well. How dialed-in will these staffs be: No one’s getting fired, but neither may be around central Florida next season. And, for that matter, the head coach of their next opponent won’t be around either.
UVA at Virginia Tech (-7.5) 8:00 EST
No one’s getting fired in this one. Excellent low-key rivalry with two second-year coaches who have worked wonders turning their programs around. Vegas predicts a tight game, and you can easily see a defensive slobberknocker between the Commonwealth schools that have gotten a lot more physical a lot quicker. Don’t sleep on the ‘Hoos here.
Elsewhere, more people getting fired:
Iowa at Nebraska (+4.5) 4:00 EST - A nice cross-border rivalry screwed up by incompetence and apathy. Should be a pillow fight. Mike Riley is a dead man walking and Ferentz’s Hawkeyes have played their one good game of the year. Someone’s definitely getting fired, but Mike Riley is a nice guy so they’ll let him retire.
Texas Tech at Texas (-9.5) 8:00 EST — The ‘Horns have rebounded just a smidge under Herman to reach bowl eligibility. The Raiders were 4-1 and No. 25 just a month or so ago. Since then, they’ve gone 1-5. This is a must-win for Kingsbury, who’s underachieved with his best defense yet. And it still might not be enough just to make Shreveport. Usually a good game between these two, with some added desperation this season. Someone’s probably getting fired.
Cal at UCLA (-7) 10:00 EST -- Someone’s already gotten fired. Good matchup of terrible secondaries vs. competent passing games. Josh Rosen aims to take the No. 1 Overall Selection in the NFL draft from the erratic Sam Darnold. Besides, what else are you going to do on Friday night?
|Western Michigan at Toledo||11:30 AM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|#2 Miami at Pittsburgh||12:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Baylor at #12 TCU||12:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Northern Illinois at Central Michigan||12:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Navy at Houston||12:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Ohio at Buffalo||1:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Missouri at Arkansas||2:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|South Florida at #15 UCF||3:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|New Mexico at San Diego State||3:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Texas State at Troy||4:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Iowa at Nebraska||4:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Western Kentucky at Florida Intl||7:00 PM||beIN Sports||None|
|#25 Virginia Tech at Virginia||8:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Texas Tech at Texas||8:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|California at UCLA||10:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|