I’ve told you this several times before, but while New Year’s Day may get the pub, for my money the best day of college football on the entire calendar is Black Friday. You’re dealing with meaningful conference games, heated rivalries, bonus weekday morning football, and plenty of leftovers and excuses to daydrink. I will die on this hill.
And today, buddy, are there some low-key good ones.
Here’s your schedule, in God’s Right and Proper Central Standard Time Zone:
|Boise State at San Diego State||11:00 am||CBS (cable)|
|Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan||11:00 am||ESPNU: 208|
|Kansas State at Texas||11:00 am||FOX (cable)|
|Ohio at Bowling Green||11:00 am||CBSSN: 221|
|Utah State at New Mexico||12:00 pm||FS1: 219|
|Iowa at Nebraska||12:30 pm||BTN: 610|
|Cincinnati at East Carolina||2:30 pm||ABC (cable)|
|Missouri at Arkansas||2:30 pm||CBS (cable)|
|South Florida at UCF||2:30 pm||ESPN: 206|
|UNLV at Air Force||2:30 pm||CBSSN: 221|
|Colorado at Utah||3:00 pm||FOX (cable)|
|TCU at Iowa State||3:30 pm||FS1: 219|
|North Carolina at NC State||6:00 pm||ESPN: 206|
|Washington State at Washington||7:00 pm||FS1: 219|
Must See TV
Arkansas -13.5 vs. Mizzou — Can the Tigers bring some momentum from last week’s “upset” into suddenly-very tough Razorback Stadium and pull out a W? The Hogs have been outstanding at home, and no one works as hard as they do. They have no reason to hang their head for last week’s game, either.
The hate in this rivalry is organic, sudden and understandable: If you’ve ever been in one of these states, you suddenly wish you were anywhere else. The taunts of “meth” coming from either/both fan bases is as delightfully unaware as people calling one another “redneck” in the Iron Bowl.
Boise State -2.5 at San Diego State — Brady Hoke, the least discussed man in America, has his Top 20 Aztecs seemingly ready to run away with the MWC crown. But, SDSU is a home underdog here for a reason: the Broncos have the better offense and far more talent. It’s a shame this game is at 11:00 central, because that is 9:00 out in California, and just 10:00 Boise-time. Forget Gatorade, these dudes need buckets of Starbucks over there.
Still, after everyone wakes up, it should be an outstanding game between two teams that have been playing tight games all season.
Keep An Eye On...
Kansas State +3 at Texas — The woebegone ‘Horns are still a favorite here for several reasons: talent advantage, playing at home, K State’s poor road performances, and — one would hope — desperation. K State is playing better football, and is the better team, but that’s not anything like a guarantee they can grab a dub. Sark has to win this game.
Cincinnati -14 at East Carolina — If you want a potential upset, look no closer than this one. The Pirates are much improved this season, and are willing to win in shootouts and rock fights. If Fickell is off screwing around with USC, or the Bearcats don’t take this game seriously, or if their focus is on a damned good Houston team, they can lose it. Easily.
And SMU aside, over the last month, Cincinnati has looked like just a team. Their stay in the CFP Top 4 could be a very short one indeed. A loss would derail forever talk of putting another midmajor in those rankings.
UNC at NC State -6 — If you’re looking for unexpected shootouts, this one may be your jam. Both have explosive and balanced offenses; and both have had some downright sus play this season, especially in the secondary. We know Road Mack Brown is the Worst Mack Brown, but the ole’ codger has a clear talent advantage here.
It may wind up being the best game of the day. Plan accordingly
Apple Cup: Washington +1 vs. Washington State
Over the years, the Apple Cup has given us a variety of outcomes. (usually) an bsolute beatdown doled out by the talented Huskies, the occasional improbable upset in the snowy high plains of Pullman, even a few dreadful contests between teams with 1 or 2 combined wins.
But I don’t believe that ever in my life has such a traditionally-nasty rivalry ever been this...meaningless.
Oh, sure. With a W, and a few breaks, the Cougars can claim an improbable P12 North Title, and good on them. But it’s meaningless in the sense that the teams that began this season aren’t even remotely the ones that will finish — especially these coaching staffs, one of whom will be cleaning out their desks on Saturday; the other has one, and perhaps just two, more contests and then they will be doing the same.
U Dub’s Jimmy Lake was fired in the midst of an already-assy season after another bad loss, and an altercation that saw him strike a player on the sideline. Nick Rolovich had already been fired early in the season for his defiance of the state’s vaccine mandate for employees, leaving 101 guys in the lurch and without a leader.
And both coaches owed their players far, far more — the one, to suspend his political beliefs as a state employee long enough to fulfill the bill of goods he sold to players; the other, to be the damned grown-up in the room and keep his hands off of an unpaid college student earning a degree.
In short, it’s just incredibly sad that 170 scholarship athletes, who committed to these institutions and to the two men who hocked them dreams out of high school, won’t get to finish their season (and perhaps their careers) with those very same adults who were supposed to mentor them, but who, in fact, let them down at the end of the day.
It may not be filth — indeed, it figures to be a low-scoring and competitive — but it will be unwatchable. Neither of those institutions has earned your support or rooting interests today. Good luck to all the players, though. I eagerly look forward to seeing some of you in the transfer portal in those happier days ahead.
But the Apple Cup?
No, that’s not going to be feel-good for anyone.