I should have known that Kentucky would spit out the bit. It’s what the Wildcats do. I should not have put my trust in North Carolina. Any team that wears baby blue on the gridiron is suspect. And why didn’t I recognize that Houston is, well, truly good. With a coach who is going to be the Flavor of the Month in perpetuity until he steps up the ladder. Or stays with the Cougars when they move to the Big 12.
There is some comfort in knowing that my weekend was not as bad as that suffered by the Family Stoops. Then again, Brother Mark added a term to the glossary of sports, which should enhance his resumé when he’s looking for his next job. Which despite his big buyout will be sooner rather than later. (On the other hand, should he continue to give playing time to Matt “Humpty Dumpty,” Stoops’ rep as some sort of defensive expert, such as it was, shall become ever more suspect.)
It’s a new week. Undaunted I forge ahead, confidant of erasing the red ink on the books.
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Bristol Motor Speedway). The current record for the biggest college football crowd ever is 115,000+ in Michigan’s Big House. The folks in eastern Tennessee hope to shatter that at what is heralded as the fourth largest athletic facility in the U.S. of A. Capacity 160,000. The track sits equidistant, give or take a mile, between the two schools. This game — official name: Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol — is neither the first to be played there nor the last. Philly and Washington played an NFL exhi there in ’61. And next week, East Tennessee State will play Western Carolina on the same turf. None of which background, PRish info has any bearing on which team will win. The Justin Fuente era at Beamer Tech got off to a predictable enough beginning, with a mundane 36-13 W over Jerry Falwell U. DC Bud Foster remains as a link to the Hokies’ ancien régime. The Vols should have lost their opener to App State, but thanks to a couple missed kicks, prevailed in OT. When I think of the site of this game, I can’t get the oldie “Bristol Stomp” out of my mind. “The kids in Bristol/ Are sharp as a pistol/ When they do the Bristol Stomp.” Which shall not be the dance du jour, nor shall “Hokey Pokey.” Cue “Rocky Top.”
Penn State @ Pitt. There’s something charming about long time in-state arch rivals meeting in the “middle” of the season, meaning not the opening or closing game. There’s also the Children of the Corn Iowa vs. Iowa State battle this weekend. (Of course, I hated when my team’s in-state arch rival demanded the biennial renewal of Feathers vs. Fur in Lexington was relegated to “mid-season” because of, I dunno, spite.) This used to be the big college pigskin battle of the northeast, an area where baseball still reigns, the NE Bradys notwithstanding. The Nittany Lions and Panthers used to battle every year but have met only a handful of times in the last quarter century. This is the first meeting since 2000. So I’d surmise the football lovers in the Keystone State are in a tizzy. The James Franklin Era hasn’t been exactly what the Paternoistas hoped for. Three seven victory and two minor bowl L seasons in a row don’t foretell a return to glory. Both schools took care of lessers in their openers. Panther James Conner’s return to the gridiron after a bout with the Big C is one of the sport’s feel good stories of the season. ACC over Big 10. The Narduzzis prevail.
Ohio @ Kansas. Whodathought a game in Week II between a MAC school and woeful Kansas would have any relevance whatsoever, or would garner a look see from such an august forum as this one? Frankly it is relevant only because Rock Chalk Jayhawk won last weekend for the first time since the third to last game of ’14. That’s 15 Ls in a row before Rhode Island was conquered, giving the clueless but obviously inebriated student body a reason to storm the field in Lawrence after the inconsequential W. Which drew an admonishment from the PA guy. KU coach David Beaty played at somewhere called Lindenwood, so he must know how to handle those little foes. Meanwhile the Bobcats coach Frank Solich played and coached at Nebraska, and frankly the Huskers haven’t been the same since he was fired. While there Solich never lost to Kansas. And he won’t on Saturday.
Kentucky @ Florida. Among many other things, UK coach Mark “Rat Trapper” Stoops has proven his innate inability to not only fail to make key halftime adjustments but to, well, stir his squad to rat trap mode, i.e. return to bad habits. In the first halves of their last two games, the Cats have performed like a team finally ready to make some noise in the SEC. In the second halves of their last two games, the Cats performed like a team that couldn’t beat my beloved J.M. Atherton H.S. Rebels, arguably the most perennially awful program in Kentucky HS football. To be honest, it doesn’t matter whether the Gators are legit challengers in the SEC or not, whether Jim McElwain was the right choice to replace a really bad one, Will Muschamp or not? Florida’s 29 game win streak against UK is now the longest in college football. It is secure. On Saturday, it shall be 30.
Louisville @ Syracuse. There are any number of questions about the Cardinals which were not answered in their scrimmage W over hapless Charlotte. Has the OL really improved enough that U of L will compete with the dynamic duo in the its ACC division? Wither the kicking game? Can the D deal with a hurry-up offense when the other team consists of real football players? Who is going to end up as the guy on the corner not patrolled by Jaire Alexander? The Orange are a perfect test at the right time for Louisville, a school the Cards should handle, but a road trial of some substance a week before the first of the Cards’ three big truthtellers this campaign. U of L will pass with a B- or so, leaving major questions still to be answered against the Seminoles.
— Seedy K