It is about now in a normal season when we begin to get some sense of which 11s have been over/underrated, who among the upper echelon have been over/undervalued, and where a sleeper might be lurking.
But not this campaign, when two major leagues haven’t started playing . . . yet . . . when some schools are letting fans in, most not in masked mode, while others are hosting foes in empty stadia. When some some schools have been forced to suspend operations to calm the virus, while others are in full throttle. When the volume of electronic whistles is discussed more than the RPO.
When nobody has a clue which teams will be shorthanded come kickoff.
But, thanks to a couple of gimmes last weekend, steady if not overly impressive efforts by App State and Louisville, and a serious late comeback by the Green Wave of Tulane, I can view my pick Florida State’s lame effort with some equanimity.
Then there’s this. The Big Ten announced Wednesday morning that it will commence gridiron tussles on 10/24. I trust all my readers recall what yours truly posted on this very site five days previous.
Allow me to jog your memory:
Seedy, do you think the Big Ten, and maybe the PAC-12 will change their minds and move up their seasons? — Howard “Hopalong” Heisman
You bet. Because there are few forces as insistent as scorned Wolverine, Husker and Buckeye fans, who had their tailgate menus planned out by Independence Day, there’s been a constant cry for reconsideration. At least in the Midwest. On the Left Coast, they are just hoping to put out the fires, a significantly more pressing issue, as perilous perhaps as the virus.
Were I a betting man, which I am not, despite my immediate reaction above to your question, I’d say, yes. Ryan Day will have his way.
Guess: October 24.
So, yeah, the kid got that one right, so I’m giving myself an extra Extra Point, Thus, six correct predictions, and a single wrong one (6-1) puts me at 8-5 on the year.
Pretty danged overly proud of myself for that Big Ten gotcha, here comes this weekend’s rolling of the dice:
Central Florida @ Georgia Tech. There’s always overreaction over some of the opening weekend results. Foremost this wackamundo season has been the reconsideration of the Ramblin’ Wreck, who left the Seminole fans in Tallahassee aghast, with a stunning comeback in Mike Norvell’s debut. Season II of the Geoff Collins’ Extreme Makeover of the Yellow Jackets program is off to a way better start than anybody expected. G5 UCF has gotten a lot of ink during the last three campaigns, and is favored. But the Knights haven’t played yet. I’ve drunk the Kool Aid™ on the boys from Hot ‘Lanta. Let’s head to The Varsity for some celebratory burgers. Tech.
Houston @ Baylor. As recently as last Friday, the Cougars thought they’d be battling Memphis State this weekend. Then that was cancelled (or maybe just postponed???). That darned virus. A day later, Houston cut the deal to travel to Waco this weekend to meet intrastate rival Baylor. It will be the opener for both. Which means we know nuttin’ honey about either. How many guys will be out? How did they practice? With how many? Thus I go with the P5 school playing at home.
Navy @ Tulane. First Middie mentor Ken Niumatalolo failed to get his minions ready for BYU, getting embarrassed at home in Annapolis. Then, miffed that Air Force will be able to compete for the Commander in Chief’s trophy with a short schedule, he blamed the Pentagon. Really now? He did walk that back, but remains vexed. Hopefully he’ll be scrimmaging some in practice before he and squad head to the Crescent City. The Green Wave came up big late last weekend at South Alabama. And shall prevail here. Grilled oysters on me at Drago’s.
Boston College @ Duke. Blue Devils HC David Cutcliffe is an interesting read. The Manning Brothers QB Whisperer’s stay in Oxford Town was terminated when the Johnny Reb fans weren’t happy, even though he had a winning record. But, in Durham, where pigskin is but an interlude until the tents start popping up in K-Ville, he’s still revered/ tolerated despite a 72-80 career mark. Losing in South Bend by only a couple TDs, as Duke did last weekend, is more than acceptable. Meanwhile BC was the paradigm of mediocrity under Steve Addazio. Wilkommen Jeff Halley, for whom this encounter will be the first brush stroke of a makeover. He’s gonna need better brushes, and a lot more paint. With a game under its belt, Duke prevails.
Miami @ Louisville. The Pipe’s Dream turned out not such a pipe dream. The University of Louisville Cardinals, in their own on campus state of the art stadium, nationally ranked, hosting a nationally ranked foe, on ABC Saturday Night Prime Time, with Game Day in the house. The Schnell visualized it all. This one ought to be a doozy. Both 1-0, the Canes and Cards are hoping for take-it-to-the-next level seasons. Led by dynamic QBs that can run and pass. Neither team had to pull out anywhere near all the stops in their openers. There shall be new wrinkles aplenty in this ACC smackdown. Louisville’s payback for last year’s disaster will be oh so sweet.
— c d kaplan