Hello again, humans! We’re back off the bye week, rested and ready to go for another installment of Clear Your Schedule!
There’s something oddly freeing about watching college football from a marvelous, million-dollar beach house with waves gently lapping outside. That’s totally how it happened. This is theater of the mind, right?
It’s time for the four biggest stories from the week prior in college football. Agreement is not required, but I always appreciate it.
Not back: It seems as if — sadly — I’ve spent my decade-plus in this space commonly declaring Texas to not be back. We thought this year might be different. Nope.
Now, the Big 12 was left with two undefeated teams until Thursday — Oklahoma and (checks notes) West Virginia? Seriously?
Look, the Mountaineers are an awesome story — especially after half the nation had already fired Neal Brown before the season started — but almost every talking head imaginable immediately started wishcasting the Oklahoma-Texas rematch later in the season. A legitimate question: If the Big 12 championship game ends up being Oklahoma-Texas, will the winner show up at SEC Media Days and throw the trophy in the garbage, WCW Monday Nitro-style?
If you know, you know.
Cardinal win: Hey everybody, look at your betting slips! You had the first bowl-eligible teams, right? There’s Oklahoma, Michigan, USC, Georgia, Liberty, and…Louisville? What? You mean the school that hasn’t won more than eight games in a season since 2016? The school that just lost its head coach to Cincinnati? That one?
It feels odd to say that losing one’s coach without their being fired was an upgrade, but Jeff Brohm has immediately put Louisville back on the map. The Cardinals are back in the top 20 and coming off a big win — and field storm! — against Notre Dame on Saturday night. It’s good to see excitement back in the Derby City, and if you look at the remaining schedule for the Cards, there’s a reasonable shot they could finish undefeated and make it to Charlotte. Okay, it’s at least a non-zero shot. Either way, Louisville is one of the more fun stories of the year.
On the topic of one of the other fun stories in the ACC — though for different reasons:
Do Hurricanes have knees?: Everyone has, by now, seen the fiasco that happened to Miami in a late-game loss to Georgia Tech. Our good friend Barrett Sallee shared the story over at CBSSports.com of Hurricanes offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson falling on the sword — or getting tossed under the bus like Cartman in that one South Park episode, depending on your viewpoint — and taking accountability for the goof. It’s not the first time this has happened to a Cristobal-coached team, either.
Being nationally ranked is great and all, but Cristobal is 9-8 in a season-plus in Miami. Even in a stadium where 58,045 people showed up — allegedly — to watch the game, this kind of act wears thin.
Speaking of dumb, inexplicable coaching decisions…
Fisch story: Arizona hasn’t been relevant in football in forever. No hate, just fact. The Wildcats have won seven games in a season twice since 2014. They have won 10 games in a season once since 1998.
To be fair, a win Saturday night in Los Angeles wouldn’t have been a 10th win — or even a 7th — but it could have been a program-defining decision for the Wildcats. Arizona took USC to overtime, went on defense, allowed a touchdown, and then immediately scored on its offensive possession. Arizona coach Jedd Fisch then found himself at a crossroads. Should the Wildcats go for two and try to end the game either way, knowing that Heisman winner Caleb Williams would get another look on the other sideline?
Fisch decided to kick the extra point, and the Trojans won it two extra periods later on a scramble by — you guessed it — Caleb Williams. Take a chance, man. History doesn’t remember the guy who kicked an extra point on the road.
Also, not for nothing, but why does the “emcee” at USC have to scream at the crowd — in the Coliseum, of all places — to make noise between every play? Especially in overtime? Are they trying to get ready for the apathy of the Big Ten?
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.
#22 Florida at Kentucky (-1)
WHAT HAPPENED: Kentucky 33, Florida 14. I didn’t say it at the time, obviously, but this felt like the biggest sucker bet in history. That’s how it turned out.
Kentucky jumped out 16-0 in the first quarter and somewhat screeched to the victory, but a win’s a win. Devin Leary had a pathetic 9-for-19 day for 69 yards, but did throw for a first-quarter score that helped the Wildcats get the result. Ray Davis ran for 280 yards and three scores on 26 carries. Incredible.
South Alabama at JMU (-3)
WHAT HAPPENED: JMU 31, South Alabama 23. This was another game where the favored team somewhat skidded to the finish. The Dukes led, 31-10, with 11:47 to play after Jordan McCloud found Zach Horton for a 66-yard touchdown. The Jags scored twice over the next seven minutes, cutting the margin to a single touchdown with 4:01 remaining. South Alabama could get no closer, though, as JMU remains undefeated.
No, I’m not commenting on Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’ attempt to get JMU into a bowl. Nope. Not happening.
Virginia at Boston College (-3)
WHAT HAPPENED: Boston College 27, Virginia 24. What looked to be UVa’s first win — they would go on to get one last week against FCS William & Mary — went by the boards with 2:16 remaining, as Liam Connor banged home a 42-yard field goal. The ‘Hoos proceeded to step on a rake in the final drive and earn the push.
Tony Muskett had a pretty solid day for Virginia, going 22-for-34 for 247 yards and three scores against one rip. The run game, though…woof. UVa ran for 59 yards on 29 carries (counting sacks) and ended up being too one-dimensional to overtake the Eagles.
Pitt at Virginia Tech (+2.5)
WHAT HAPPENED: Virginia Tech 38, Pitt 21. Why would anyone bet against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on a Saturday night? Why? As soon as the first notes of Enter Sandman played, Pitt was done. That place was bananas from the jump.
The Hokies led, 21-7, at the interval, and never looked back. Kyron Drones was an efficient 12-for-19 for 228 yards and three scores and Tech so badly broke the Panthers that their quarterback has since moved to tight end.
Week 7 (3-0-1 in Week 5, 8-10-2 this season)
Navy (-3.5) at Charlotte (2pm, ESPN+)
Troy (-4.5) at Army (3:30pm, CBSSN)
#14 Louisville (-6.5) at Pittsburgh (6:30pm, CW)
Wyoming at Air Force (-10.5) (7pm, CBSSN)
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 Southern (4-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0) (noon, ESPN2): We’ve talked pretty extensively about JMU in this space, so let’s give some attention to the Eagles here. GSU’s lone loss this season came to Wisconsin, and they’ve scored 78 points over the last two games. Davis Binn has the highest per-game passing average of any Sun Belt quarterback, tossing for just over 322 yards per game. Khaleb Hood has 39 grabs for 414 yards. Derwin Burgess Jr. has 36 for 371. Both have three TDs.
This is a battle for the lead in the Sun Belt East, and your TV or stream needs to be locked on this game from beginning to end.
LINE: JMU -6.
#7 North Dakota State (4-1, 1-1 MVFC) at #15 North Dakota (3-2, 1-1) (2pm, ESPN+): The Battle for the Nickel Trophy is, as always, must-see TV. If you weren’t already in with two top-15 teams playing in Grand Forks, get in for this.
— North Dakota Football (@UNDfootball) October 12, 2023
Fire. Both the game and the uniforms.
LINE: None at press time.
Marshall (4-1, 1-0) at Georgia State (4-1, 1-1) (7pm, ESPN2): Another great Sun Belt East battle takes place in the former Turner Field in Atlanta. It’s Homecoming in Atlanta, and the Panthers welcome the Herd for a big one. Marshall fell, 48-41, to NC State after approaching 365 days without being defeated. Only two Sun Belt quarterbacks who have played at least five games — ULM’s Jiya Wright and ODU’s Jack Shields — have thrown for fewer touchdowns than Cam Fancher’s six. The Herd are still a force to be reckoned with, though, as Rasheen Ali has nine touchdowns in five games while rushing for 108 yards per contest.
Georgia State’s Marcus Carroll also has nine scores on the ground and rushes for almost 117 yards per game. Darren Grainger has just one more passing score than does Fancher.
The possible deciding factor: Georgia State is third in the Sun Belt in rush defense (102.2 yards per game). Marshall is 11th (183.2).
LINE: Georgia State -1.5.
#16 Montana (5-1, 3-0 Big Sky) at #3 Idaho (5-1, 2-1) (10:30, ESPN2): There is not an available seat in the Kibbie Dome Saturday night. Not one.
🚨VANDAL NATION YOU ARE THE BEST!🚨
BE EARLY! BE LOUD! pic.twitter.com/Qy5GbZVPHB
— Idaho Football (@VandalFootball) October 12, 2023
To quote the great Wes Blankenship in his Coffeetown series, if that don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet. This is a battle for supremacy in what some call (maybe not us, maybe so) the best league in the FCS. The Kibbie Dome is going to be absolutely nuts for a national TV game, and you need to make an appointment to lock in for this one. Forget NC State-Duke. Forget Pac-12 After Dark. Moscow, Idaho, is where your full attention needs to be.
LINE: None at press time.
This is going to be a fun college football weekend. Tune out everything that’s going on in the world, but don’t totally forget it. Pray, send good vibes, or whatever you do for your neighbor. Call your family and friends. Tell someone you love them, even if you tell them so every day.
See y’all next week.