Clear Your Schedule | Week 10, 2023

By Brian Wilmer -

Howdy, honchos!

We have reached Week 10 — double figures. I cannot fathom how quickly these weeks have gone by. It was 80 degrees seven days ago — literally and figuratively — and now we’re past trick-or-treaters, staring at high school football playoffs, and dealing with Tyler from Spartanburg.

We can count the remaining weeks of this feature in 2023 on one hand. Just please start with your thumb or index finger. This is a family show.

Oh hey — squirrel!

Sunday Stories

It’s time for the four biggest stories from the week prior in college football. Agreement is not required, but I’ll give you a five-star rating on Uber, or something.

Daft Valley: Clemson fans have now reached the point of the season where they incur the Old Testament — Dabo’s words, not mine — for daring to question their team’s coach. The Tigers fell, 24-17, at NC State, and the Tigers have gone from national title contenders to having a non-zero chance at not even making a bowl. At least they still have DJ Ui–oh.

Cade Klubnik somehow pulled the incomprehensible combination of throwing 50 times and never having one of those attempts land in the end zone. Two of those throws did, however, land in the hands of Wolfpack defenders, and it is panic time down by Lake Hartwell. The Tigers do have three of their remaining four at home, starting with Notre Dame this weekend before Georgia Tech and North Carolina visit. If that trip to Columbia is for bowl eligibility for Clemson — even if South Carolina drops every remaining game — is going to be one for the books.

No Quinn, no problem:  Texas took on a solid BYU club in Austin without quarterback Quinn Ewers, and needed fewer than three minutes to take a lead the ‘Horns would never surrender. Xavier Worthy housed a punt for 74 yards, and the 35-6 result was on from there. Maalik Murphy had a solid performance, connecting on 16-of-25 throws for 170 yards and two TD hookups with Adonai Mitchell.

Texas has not released a two-deep as of press time, but it’s probably a reasonable assumption that Murphy should play a decent amount. Now that Oklahoma has tripped over the curb against Kansas, the door is again open for the Longhorns, but we’ll have to see if Jonathan Brooks and Adonai Mitchell can keep their respective paces and the defense can continue getting home and forcing uncomfortable pockets.

On their Heels:  North Carolina sat positioned two weeks ago to play for an ACC title and make a New Year’s Six bowl. Now, following an absolutely inexplicable loss to Virginia — at home! — and an almost equally inexplicable 46-42 loss to Georgia Tech in which Mack Brown’s club held four different double-digit leads, Carolina is in a tailspin. The Tar Heels have now dipped below 4-4 Virginia Tech in the league, with the Hokies sporting a 3-1 league ledger.

UNC gets a break this week with Campbell of the CAA in FCS, but goes Duke-at Clemson-at State to close the season. There’s probably two wins in there — at least — but what was a very promising season for Carolina has lost a bit of its luster.

U Mad, bro?:  JMU continued its incredible run last week, knocking off a resurgent ODU team, 30-27, in Bridgeforth Stadium. The Dukes are now in the Top 25 — for the time being, anyway — and have a fun game at Georgia State this week. More on that in a bit — perhaps, anyway.

Friend of the site Shane Mettlen had a pretty solid read on JMU’s magical season, chronicling the indisputable success, the political absurdity, and everything in between. Curt Cignetti has done a remarkable job in Harrisonburg, and will probably be a key name in job searches this coming offseason. Don’t look for the Dukes to get a lot of sympathy on their current plight from their Commonwealth brethren at Liberty, though. The same thing happened in Lynchburg a few years ago, and Flames fans aren’t interested in helping JMU through its situation.

Bad Bets

And now for the time that I show off my complete lack of handicapping skills. I make no claims to the contrary. With that, here’s what you’ll read every week:

I’ll pick four games each week, with many not in the huge P5 windows, because I tend to color outside those lines a bit. I’ll just pick straight lines as they are listed on the day I pick them — no money lines, no teasing, nothing else.  I’ll keep track of my record as the season goes along, and you can trash me in the comments each week for my lack of prediction prowess.

NOTE:  None of the text within is meant to serve as gambling advice. This is largely meant for parody and light-hearted review. At no point should any of the picks in this article be construed as gambling advice offered by or me.

Week 9

Miami (OH) at Ohio (-7.5)
WHAT HAPPENED:  Miami (OH) 30, Ohio 16.

What’s that you say? I got a cover and a two-touchdown win? The Bobcats jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but managed just one more touchdown the rest of the way. The Redhawks won going away, despite Aveon Smith trying just 11 passes — completing seven — and throwing for 103 yards and a score. Rashad Amos logged 21 totes and 163 yards with a score of his own. The Redhawks now hold the inside track on a MAC East crown.

Marshall (-3.5) at Coastal Carolina
WHAT HAPPENED:  Coastal 34, Marshall 6.

I thought Grayson McCall missing the game would be a problem for the Chants. Turns out that throwing four rips between two quarterbacks was a bigger problem for the Herd. Jarrett Guest throwing for 289 and three scores also kind of proved problematic for the visitors.

Troy (-6.5) at Texas State
WHAT HAPPENED:  Troy 31, Texas State 13.

Win with Troy one week, lose with them the next. The Trojans are in great shape in the Sun Belt West following this decision. The Trojans trailed, 10-7, at the interval, then proceeded to tear off a 24-3 second-half burst that earned them the victory. Gunnar Watson threw for just shy of 400 yards and three touchdowns, while the Trojans picked off T.J. Finley twice in turning away the Bobcats.

UNLV at Fresno State (-8.5)
WHAT HAPPENED:  Fresno 31, UNLV 24.

The Rebels were a play away from extra time or an outright win. In the end, though, the 24-point third from the Bulldogs did in the visitors from Vegas. The tide has clearly turned for UNLV, though; the Rebels are bowl-eligible and still hold a possible inside straight to a Mountain West title. They will need to win in Colorado Springs and get some help from a Fresno opponent — Boise? San Diego State? — to pull off that feat, however.

Week 10 (2-2 in Week 9, 13-13-2 this season)

#15 Notre Dame (-3) at Clemson (noon, ABC)
Georgia Tech at Virginia (-2) (2pm, CW)
Army at Air Force (-18.5) (2:30pm, CBSSN)
Louisiana Tech at Liberty (-16.5) (6pm, CBSSN)

I think I feel worse about this slate than I did last week’s. Considering I’m at .500 after 28 games, I think I’ll just take my “win” and try to kneel it out from here.

And finally, here are the four “under-the-radar” games I’ll be watching this week and how to watch them. I’ll also include lines if there are any — for informational purposes only, naturally, as outlined in the above disclaimer. I don’t yet have a name for this section. All times are Eastern.

#2 Furman (7-1, 5-0 SoCon) at #14 Chattanooga (7-2, 6-1(1:30pm, ESPN+):  This game decides the SoCon championship, and Finley Stadium will be wild. The Mocs last took down a top-five opponent 30 years ago — when current coach Rusty Wright was a Chattanooga receiver. That game was a 33-31 decision over Marshall.

The Mocs have been without star running back Ailym Ford after he suffered a season-ending injury, but Gino Appleberry and Reggie Davis have filled in nicely in Ford’s stead. Chattanooga averages nearly 6.2 yards per play, and they will need every inch of that against the robust Paladins.

Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huff poses an equally large problem on the opposing sideline. The purple-clad sophomore has rushed 83 times for 487 yards and five scores, while throwing for 1,452 yards and nine TDs against four pick and nearly 67 percent completion percentage.

A win gets the Mocs into the postseason for the first time since the 2016 campaign, the third of a trio of trips.

LINE:  None at press time.

#12 Missouri (7-1, 3-1 SEC) at #2 Georgia (8-0, 5-0) (3:30pm, CBS):  We’re to the point in the season where it’s hard to tread untrodden trails — especially with teams like this — but I’ll give you the big reason to watch. The days of SEC football on CBS are dwindling. This is a pretty compelling matchup — though it’s hard to find a path for the Tigers to win — so I’ll give you a couple notes.

Eli Drinkwitz has already secured his highest wins total in Columbia. Missouri hasn’t won eight games in a campaign since 2018, when the Tigers went to the Liberty Bowl. Mizzou hasn’t had a one-loss season in the SEC since Gary Pinkel did it in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014.

Again, not saying the Tigers have much of a shot between the hedges, but we should highlight what they’ve done thus far this season.

LINE:  Georgia -15.5.

#11 North Dakota State (6-2, 3-2 MVFC) at #3 South Dakota State (8-0, 5-0) (3:00, ESPN+):  The battle for the Dakota Marker makes its way to Brookings this weekend, and as one might expect, there is not a seat to be had in Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. It should be warm — for the Dakotas, anyway — Saturday, with 55-degree temperatures and sunshine expected.

The Bison hold the slimmest of margins in the Dakota Marker race since both moved to the FCS in 2004, having claimed 10 of the 19 contests. Number 11 would help NDSU stay alive in the trip through the dryer that is the MVFC, while the Jackrabbits would only gain the slightest of ground on South Dakota and Northern Iowa, who both lurk at 4-1 in the league.

I’ll let the South Dakota State sports information department tell you about the Dakota Marker, because this is one in a series of awesome rivalry trophies.

Red quartzite monuments that define the border between South Dakota and North Dakota signify a football rivalry between the two states.

The Dakota Marker, a replica of the 7-foot by 10-inch square stone monuments planted in the early 1890s, is the name of a traveling trophy that SDSU and North Dakota State began competing for in 2004.

The original idea for the trophy came from the Blue Key Honor Society at NDSU. The student associations at both schools share dual ownership of the trophy.

Creation of the trophy coincided with SDSU’s and NDSU’s entry into NCAA Division I-AA football (currently Football Championship Subdivision). And it signaled a revised rivalry between two schools that first played a football game against each other in 1903.

The Dakota Marker stands about three feet tall with the letters “SD” on one side and “ND” on the other side, just like its 720 namesakes that dot the 366-mile border. The trophy stands about three feet high and weighs 78 pounds. The black granite base used to display the trophy weighs another 181 pounds.

LINE:  None at press time.

#23 JMU (8-0, 5-0 Sun Belt) at Georgia State (6-2, 3-2(3:30pm, ESPN2)We’ve covered both these teams in this space — even in this specific column — but this is probably the game I’ll most closely watch this week.

GSU has won seven games in a season twice. They’ve won eight games in a season once. Granted, the sample size is a bit small, but this could be an all-time season for Shawn Elliott’s group.

This is also a great chance for us to shout out friends of the site Ben Moore and the THERSday Night Podcast, since we’ve already shown some love to our friends up at the DNR in Harrisonburg.

LINE:  JMU -5.5.

Welcome to November. A frantic football month awaits, as do treasured holidays. Basketball is also right around the season, so it will be tough for many of us — your humble correspondent included — to concentrate.

Make it a great month, friends. Until next time.

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Comment (1)

Dan-ke, Brian Wilmer

Chuckles & accurate journalism, that’s the winning Recipe for my sporting news.

Entertaining writing livens up otherwise dry team Statistics. I watch football to laugh & to be awed @ the controlled chaos allowed in parts of it.