It’s Week 11, which is also the penultimate week for this here feature in 2023. This year has flown by, but I want to take the time to thank you all for reading and contributing this season. It’s been an odd year, in that this is the first for this iteration of the feature. We’re starting to hit our stride, just in time for the season to end.
Please pat yourselves on the back for your loyalty and support. Just don’t make it awkward.
It’s time for the four biggest stories from the week prior in college football. Agreement is not required, but I’ll send you a penny in Kohl’s Cash, or something.
So long, Clemsoning; hello…Notre Daming?: I promise there is nothing to having Clemson in the one spot for consecutive weeks other than their being the top story. After Clemson took a bunch of grief all week for its performance the week prior, the Tigers built a 24-9 lead at the interval and held off a third-quarter charge from the Irish in a 31-23 victory.
Cade Klubnik was…fine — 18 completions for 109 yards, a score, and a pick — but Phil Mafah was the story. Mafah ran 36 times for 186 yards and two scores, punishing the Notre Dame defense and ensuring Clemson imposed its will.
Now, to induce some anger.
Can Notre Dame win something — anything? — before we continue holding them in such high regard? They’ve gone 35 years without a national title, they’ve put up two uninspiring appearances in the Playoff, and when a generation — or two — has gone by since they last climbed the mountain, it’s time to move on. I love Marcus Freeman and think he’s a star, but I’m just sick of pretending with this program.
Kat scratch fever: Sam Houston State is finally in the left column as an FBS club. The Bearkats took down Kennesaw State, 24-21, Saturday afternoon. Sure, that was a two-win Owl club — in the FCS — but KSU will soon join SHSU in CUSA. The Bearkats overcame an early 14-0 deficit to take the result.
We are now without a winless team in the FBS — which is great for Sam Houston, but for those of us who love chaos, the dream has died.
Adorin’ Doeren: Following a 20-6 win over Miami, NC State’s Dave Doeren is now the all-time wins leader at NC State, having won 78 games in all or part of 11 seasons at the helm in Raleigh. Doeren overtakes NCSU legend Earle Edwards, who won 77 games as NCSU’s coach between 1954 and 1970.
(Editor’s note: I honestly imagined Dick Sheridan would have been more in the conversation at the top of the leaderboard, but he won just 52 games in seven seasons.)
Prime numbers: Colorado played its first game since its very public — and sudden — demotion of offensive coordinator Sean Lewis, and the results were not great. Shedeur Sanders threw for 245 yards and two scores, with much of it coming in a fourth-quarter flurry by the Buffaloes. However, Colorado rushed for (minus)-six yards on 18 carries, which bit CU in a 26-19 loss to Oregon State. Time will tell how the change holds up for Coach Prime, but early returns haven’t been the best.
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 FBSchedules.com or me.
#15 Notre Dame (-3) at Clemson
WHAT HAPPENED: Clemson 31, Notre Dame 23
See above. Notre Dame can enjoy the Pop Tarts Bowl in Orlando, because they are now officially done.
Georgia Tech at Virginia (-2)
WHAT HAPPENED: Georgia Tech 45, Virginia 17
Virginia led after a quarter — only for the Jackets to toss 21 on the board in the second quarter and boat race the Wahoos. I said over the weekend on one of them thar’ social networks — and I’ll say again here — that Georgia Tech hired the right guy in Brent Key. He may not be right forever, but for now, Key was the right guy at the right time.
Virginia, for its part, made a splashier hire. The results speak for themselves.
Army at Air Force (-18.5)
WHAT HAPPENED: Army 23, Air Force 3
The Falcons turned it over six times in a tire-blowing loss. The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy will now be decided by the Army-Navy game at the end of the season, and the Falcons will likely end up in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Louisiana Tech at Liberty (-16.5)
WHAT HAPPENED: Liberty 56, Louisiana Tech 30
This was a decent enough game for most of it; however, the Flames hung over 600 yards of offense on the visiting Bulldogs and pulled away late. Not that it would have made any difference, but the Bulldogs inexplicably went for two on three separate occasions — converting one — in the second half. Liberty is now 9-0 and will host the CUSA title game.
Week 11 (1-3 in Week 10, 14-16-2 this season)
Maryland (-2.5) at Nebraska (noon, Peacock)
Appalachian State at Georgia State (-2.5) (2pm, ESPN+)
Florida International at Middle Tennessee (-10.5) (3:30pm, ESPN+)
Arkansas State at South Alabama (-11.5) (5:00pm, ESPN+)
I feel as if I have a pretty decent read — again, not offering gambling advice whatsoever — on this group of games, so that clearly means I’m going 0-4 and I’ll have no shot of finishing .500 for the year. Drat.
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.
Georgia Tech (5-4, 4-2 ACC) at Clemson (5-4, 2-4) (noon, ABC): We’ve already talked about both of these teams at decent length in this space.
Instead, let’s focus on this date: Oct. 18, 2008.
That was the last time Georgia Tech won by the shores of Lake Hartwell. Josh Nesbitt was 5-for-12 for 41 yards that day. One of those throws, however, found Demaryius Thomas. 24 yards later, the Ramblin’ Wreck had a game-winning touchdown.
Even with this being a “down” year for the Tigers, a win in Death Valley would be seismic for the Jackets.
LINE: Clemson -14.5
Miami FL at #4 Florida State (9-0) (3:30pm, ABC): This game should have a lot more buzz to it, but given the time handling issues by the ‘Canes — and the bad performance last week at State — things look rather dismal for Miami. FSU is 9-0 and should look at Miami as the speed bump on the way to Charlotte that they are.
Come for the remembrance of the great rivalry this once was, and stay to see whether FSU can keep their foot on the gas throughout this one.
LINE: Florida State -14.5
New Mexico State (7-3, 5-1 CUSA) at Western Kentucky (5-4, 3-2) (3:30, ESPN+): So hey, everyone had the battle at Houchens-Smith Stadium being a 5-4 New Mexico State against a 7-3 Western Kentucky with the Hilltoppers headed for a CUSA title tilt in Lynchburg, right? Right?
Instead, Jerry Kill’s Aggies are poised to play for some hardware. Let’s give you, though, a reason Western may derail New Mexico State. Take it away, WKU Sports Information!
WKU has seen tremendous late-season success under Tyson Helton, who boasts a 13-3 overall record in the month of November and a 12-2 record in November in Conference USA games. WKU has won 10 consecutive CUSA games in November, and the only two conference losses in the month under Helton were both to FAU, who is no longer in the league.
LINE: Western Kentucky -4.5
Texas State (6-3, 3-2 Sun Belt) at Coastal Carolina (6-3, 4-2) (3:30pm, ESPN+): It’s the battle of the second-place teams from each side of the Sun Belt on the eye-gouging Surf Turf in Myrtle Beach-adjacent, and there are a few interesting storylines at play here. G.J. Kinne has done a great job in his first season in San Marcos, taking the Bobcats to bowl eligibility in his first season since coming over from Incarnate Word.
On the other side, Coastal quarterback Grayson McCall still can’t play, as the Chants’ medical staff has not yet cleared the veteran standout. McCall is, strangely, on the two-deep this week. If McCall can’t go, senior Jarrett Guest or freshman Ethan Vasko will get the nod. Vasko went 17-for-31 for 180 yards with a touchdown and a pick in last week’s win against Old Dominion, while Guest was 14-for-20 for 289 yards with three scores and a pick two weeks ago against Marshall.
LINE: Texas State -2.5
These are festive days for many of us, but they are quite sad for many. As I often say, though we are not called to like everyone, we are called to love them. Be sure to let others know they matter during this season.
I appreciate y’all.
On to the next — next week, that is, where we’ll wind down an exciting first season of the revamped feature! Enjoy your weekend, kids!