I think there’s a game today. Have you heard that rumor too?
So, here’s your schedule for the day. All times are God’s Right and Proper Central Standard:
|Maryland at #1 Ohio State||11:00 AM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#4 Penn State at #17 Minnesota||11:00 AM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Vanderbilt at #10 Florida||11:00 AM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#12 Baylor at TCU||11:00 AM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|East Carolina at #25 SMU||11:00 AM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|UMass at Army||11:00 AM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Western Kentucky at Arkansas||11:00 AM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Texas Tech at West Virginia||11:00 AM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Purdue at Northwestern||11:00 AM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Florida State at Boston College||11:00 AM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Georgia Tech at Virginia||11:30 AM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|UTSA at Old Dominion||1:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Charlotte at UTEP||2:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Stanford at Colorado||2:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|South Alabama at Texas State||2:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|#2 LSU at #3 Alabama||2:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|#16 Kansas State at Texas||2:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#19 Wake Forest at Virginia Tech||2:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|UConn at #20 Cincinnati||2:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Georgia Southern at Troy||2:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Louisville at Miami||2:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|USC at Arizona State||2:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|UAB at Southern Mississippi||2:30 PM||NFL||NFLNetwork.com|
|Illinois at Michigan State||2:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#18 Iowa at #13 Wisconsin||3:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|New Mexico State at Ole Miss||3:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|North Texas at Louisiana Tech||3:00 PM||None|
|Georgia State at UL Monroe||4:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Florida International at Florida Atlantic||5:00 PM||Stadium||WatchStadium.com|
|Missouri at #6 Georgia||6:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Washington State at California||6:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Utah State at Fresno State||6:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Appalachian State at South Carolina||6:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|#5 Clemson at NC State||6:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|#15 Notre Dame at Duke||6:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Tennessee at Kentucky||6:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Liberty at BYU||6:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Iowa State at #9 Oklahoma||7:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Wyoming at #22 Boise State||9:15 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Nevada at San Diego State||9:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|San Jose State at Hawai'i||10:00 PM||Spectrum Sports|
No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama (-6) — I think this one needs no introduction. We’ve published about three dozen articles over the last two weeks on it. If you want to see how we think it all shakes out, check out the prediction thread. If you’re not hype enough yet, then...well...you’re about to be.
No. 13 Minnesota (+7) vs No. 4 Penn State — It’s the other game of the day featuring two ranked, undefeated opponents. You can be forgiven for not taking Minnesota and its godawful schedule seriously. But the last month of the season, they have been a machine (especially at home). Penn State is...well...still an uncertain quantity. Wins at Iowa and home vs. Michigan are really nice against flawed teams, but you get the sense that the wheels could come flying off at any moment. Is it in this one, the biggest game in Minneapolis in literal decades? It’s the early ABC game too, so you can watch all of it!
No. 18 Iowa at No. 15 Wisconsin— What’s that? You say you want a rock fight? Two of the Big Ten’s most plodding offenses and questionable passing games meet two of the Big Ten’s more fundamentally sound defenses. The speed on the field won’t wow you, and the talent is spotty all over the place. But, that’s more than made up for by hard hitting, quality line play, physical combat in gloomy 40-degree Madison skies, and genuine antipathy between the two. Football has always been likened to a a metaphor for war. If that’s true, then this is Verdun.
Keep The Remote At Hand:
Western Kentucky (+1) at Arkansas — Chad Morris ran off quarterback Ty Storey for Nick Starkel. Storey resurfaced at Western Kentucky and is leading the Hilltoppers to a potential CUSACG appearance. And, it just so happens, Storey is returning to the scene of the crime today in Fayetteville. Megabooster Jerry Jones, largely-but-quietly responsible for Morris’s hire, will be in attendance too as his grandson gets the nod at QB for the miserable piggies. So many fun storylines! See that point spread up there? That’s despicable, Arkansas. Chad may get fired at halftime by Jerry if this one goes tits-up early.
No. 16 Kansas State at Texas — Who would have thought in August that Klieman’s Cats would be the ranked team here? The Wildcats are a quiet 6-2, but blasting OU gets you a fairly lofty ranking. The Sooners exposed a complete lack of speed in K State’s secondary though, and these ‘Horns can light it up...at times. Given the heat on Scott Herman, he best hope that today is one of them. The uninspired, predictable, lame gameplans he’s trotted out for the last month won’t cut it, despite Texas’s tremendous talent advantage.
No. 19 Wake Forest (-6.5) at Virginia Tech — The Hokies were quite competitive last week in a loss to Notre Dame. They get another shot today to earn a signature win in 2019 against...uhhh...Wake Forest? Yuck. Be that as it may, the Demon Deacons high-powered offense is going to be a test for Justin Fuente’s offensively-challenged group. Even worse for the Angry Turkeys? Wake is trying to play defense of late. A bad loss at Lane Stadium may just have the boosters hitting up Jimmy Sexton to see who’s on the market. It’s been a disastrous four-plus years for Fuente in Blacksburg. HOT TAKE: Fuente was only winning at Memphis with Larry Porter’s talent — but Mike Norvell is the real deal.
Illinois at Michigan State (-15.5) Really? Yes. Really. The Illini are on a three-game winning streak, sit at 3-3 in the West, and are just one tantalizing win away from bowl eligibility. This is a gritty, fun team winning a bunch of different (though highly improbable) ways. Sparty just isn’t the Sparty of recent vintage — this team can be had at home. I’ll be partisan here: I want Lovie and his spectacular beard to clinch a bowl. One of the nicest, good guys in football meets one of its nastiest curmudgeons. Seeing as 2019 gives us villainy in abundance, it owes us this.
USC (-3.5) at Arizona State — It’s been an up-and-down year for both squads expected to compete for the South. Utah is running away with it, and in the process making both of these much larger, more desirable programs look silly in the process. With UCLA riding a nice streak that only makes the body of work here doubly disappointing. As bad as USC has been on the road, and with the Sun Devils penchant for playing it close to the vest, this could wind up being one of the more competitive games of the day. The Trojans have a great incentive too (or disincentive, if you think the players are tanking for Urban Meyer): Clay Helton got the dreaded “we’ll evaluate the program at season’s end” earlier this week.
There are plenty of fun shootouts on hand today, and especially in the G5. If the big boys let you down, peck around for one of these:
UAB at Southern Miss (-2.5) — The No. 3 and 4. in scoring offenses in the CUSA. They are only this low because...
North Texas at La. Tech (-4.5) These are the No. 1 and No. 2 scoring offenses in the CUSA.
East Carolina (+17) at SMU ECU’s offense hasn’t been the problem. Then again, you could say the same about the Mustangs.
Georgia State (-2.5) at UL-M The Directional Georgias have done quite well this year. State and its triple-option Southern brethren may both make bowl games.
San Jose State at Hawaii (-7) Two passing teams that turn it over a ton; O/U on interceptions should be somewhere around 7.5, and the total should be set around 80.
Utah State at Fresno State (-6) Disappointing seasons for both teams this year, and that’s largely attributable to flat-out bad secondaries. That should make for a viewer’s delight then. The WAC never died, it just got better PR.
Tennessee at Kentucky (PK) Mark Stoops’s name popping up in coaching searches continues to baffle me. Jeremy Pruitt has no such problem. This is usually a nasty rivalry game played at a terrible level — just butt football all around.
Wyoming (-8) at No. 21 Boise State. This likely won’t be a shootout. Think of it like Wisconsin-Iowa, but with smaller white people, Samoans, Mormons, and on blue turf in this battle for the intermountain west. It’s hard to believe that Brian Harsin and Craig Bohl will be at either place much longer.
This Week’s Unwatchable Filth:
Last week gave you what I thought would be the undoubted stinker of the year: UMass vs. UConn. It was a one-sided game, but not as horrid as you’d imagine. I did highlight two other games that I felt were strong contenders: The Cocktail Party and Vandy at South Carolina. In terms of sheer ineptitude, the product the SEC put on national television far outstripped the Conn/Mass game. Those teams at least have an excuse.
There are several unpalatable options to choose from this week — don’t sleep on that New Mexico State - Ole Miss game, for instance — but you would be hard-pressed to find the unique combination of bad defense, inept offense, terrible coaching, and the dangers of also-rans trying to keep up with the Joneses quite like today’s matchup.
Ladies and Gents, I present some truly foul Midwestern filth served up to you by way of Purdue at Northwestern.
Jeff Brohm, the hot name after last year’s improbable motor-boating of Ohio State, was re-upped by the Boilermakers for an absurd 7 years/$36.8 million. All he has done to reward that faith is post a 3-6 record and completely forget that his team has a defense. And I see why: There’s not a bright spot to be found: 72nd in scoring, 70th in rushing, 94th in passing, 77th in total defense, 76th in sacks, 79th in tackles for loss. It’s not that the Boilers have lost six games, it’s how they’ve lost them too. When the team needs to score, it can’t (see Iowa 26-20). When it needs to get a stop, it can’t (See Minnesota 38-31). Whatever clutch means, this team is the opposite of it.
Brohm’s dance partner today is Pat Fitzgerald, a man whose teams are so conservative, so get-off-my-lawn, that even Ronald Reagan cringes from the great beyond. You can be conservative and good. It worked for Alabama and LSU for the best part of a decade. But, conservative and bad? Pals, you’ve not seen an offense this terrible since...well, maybe never. They make Shula’s teams look like a Big 12 franchise. They make this year’s Cal passing game look positively Saints-esque.
Passing — 4.0 yards per attempt, 11 interceptions, 2 TDs, 120 yards per game. They are 126th here, and the only four behind them are the three service academies and Ga. Southern — all triple option teams. What makes this particularly awful is that the Wildcats attempt...wait for it...31 passes a game. This is the output they get WHEN THEY’RE TRYING.
Total offense? 128th — only Old Dominion and Akron are worse. Even Georgia Tech, a team using converted flexbone linemen at skills positions has been better. Scoring? Even worse — 130th in the country at 9.8 PPG. They’ve not scored a touchdown in 38 days and 44 drives. See that thing about Georgia Tech above? The Yellow Jackets are still doubling Northwestern’s output.
Bad coaching, bad talent, one side with the worst offense you’ll see in modern football hosts another team that can’t be assed to play defense — that adds up to some 100% pure filth straight from the Rust Belt warrior-poets. And Jim Delany still whines about missing the playoffs?
There will be worse teams you see this year, but perhaps not a worse game.
Dishonorable Mentions: Kentucky vs. Tennessee, Ole Miss vs. New Mexico State, South Alabama at Texas State