This Thursday and Friday gives us back-to-back days with five games per night and features three ranked squads and no less than a dozen teams fighting for bowl bids. Order two pizzas and hit the sofa: it’s a good start to the bye week viewing for ‘Bama fans.
(LOL. Just realized these are in PST times, so add 3 hours in the East, 2 for Central folks).
|Baylor at #13 West Virginia||4:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Ball State at Ohio||4:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Toledo at Western Michigan||4:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|#25 Appalachian State at Georgia Southern||4:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech||4:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
Baylor +13 at West Virginia — When last we saw the Fightin’ Holgos, they were getting waylaid in Ames by the Cyclones. The ‘Eers are in a three-way tie for second in the Big 12 at 3-1 with a looming visit to Austin next weekend against conference-leading Texas (4-0). Baylor has been respectable in Matt Rhule’s second season (4-3, 2-2) and can catch WVU sleeping as Iowa State did and Kansas almost did. But, let’s see if West Virginia takes the top off of the offense and regains the air superiority that it should have with this personnel. This is potentially WVU’s best team since 2011, but it’s time to start putting together some decisive wins. There are still slim playoff hopes alive for WVU, especially with its backloaded schedule.
Ball State + 11 1⁄2 at Ohio — Frank Solich is as inexorable as the tide eroding mighty mountains. Now in his 13th season at Ohio, the Bobcats sit at 4-3 and are looking for their 11th bowl bid under Solich (and just the 16th in program history.) If you miss #RTDB, this team is your jam. Ball State meanwhile is nowhere near as bad as that 3-4 record; they’ve played some quality teams very closely, including Notre Dame. The Cardinals are tied with Ohio for 3rd in the MAC, so this one is also for conference positioning and ultimately a bowl berth: Winner makes a bowl, loser goes golfing in December.
Toledo at Western Michigan -7 — these two teams were supposed to be the class of the conference, and they’re certainly two of the three most talented. Western (5-2) has held up their end of the bargain. The Rockets have somewhat underperformed (3-4), but on that ledger are tough losses to Miami, Fresno State, Eastern Michigan and Buffalo — two of those are ranked, one leads the conference, and the other is one of the better .500 teams in the country. So, it’s not like they’ve played poorly against bad teams: all losses are excusable. An upset here could create a logjam in the MAC West with a Broncos loss and save the Rockets season: How far can desperation carry you against a better team?
Appalachian State -11 1⁄2 at Georgia Southern — Definitely a contrast in styles here: Southern will pound the ball for 60 minutes and try to shorten the game. The Mountaineers’ balanced team is led with its passing game and a stifling defense. This ”Group A” game may be the best one of the night: 6-1 Southern (4-0) and App State (3-0) lead the stacked division, with Troy (4-0 ) waiting for one of them to slip. Watch this one for sure. This spread is probably way too high, FWIW.
Ga. Tech +4 at Va. Tech — On a night with several excellent run-first offenses, we get the nation’s best: the Georgia Tech Yellow jackets travel to Blacksburg to face Bud Foster’s Virginia Tech defense. The Hokies offense has underperformed for sure this season. But, the Jackets defense is really soft in the backend, so VT will be able to generate some offense. Now, can they slow down the original HUNHS — the wishbone (fine, the flexbone in 2018). This will be a fun one, as night games in Southeastern Virginia usually are. This one is also crucial for ACCCG implications. VT is 3-0 in the conference, but tonight begins a 5-game season-ending swing with three bowl locks (BC, Miami, UVA) and two other teams fighting for bowl bids that are more than capable of getting a W (Pitt, GT). For the Rambling Wreck, they sit at a disappointing 1-3 in ACC play, 3-4 overall. And, like VT, they face a nasty Amen Corner to end the season: Miami, UVA, VT, GT and UGA — it’s hard to see a bowl bid without pulling this one off.
If you must watch one game, flip a coin between this one and App. State — Georgia Southern...Maybe even Toledo — Western. There’s just a lot of potentially good football tonight.
Sit back and enjoy.