Football season is back; there is a full slate of college football games on tap for this weekend; in fact, about a dozen Division 1-A schools played last night. The return of football has meaning here in Curmudgeon Central; the return of football season means the return of Football Friday.
For new readers who have hopped aboard this vehicle over the past year, let me set the stage:
- From now until the Super Bowl, Friday rants will be about college and NFL football. There will be at least one “Dark Friday” during the season because I already know of a travel commitment down the line that will preclude such a posting. However, when I have the time and the access to my keyboard, Fridays will be devoted to football.
- I will try each week to present a Six-Pack of picks either against the spread or using the Total Line for games. I will also keep a running score for the season to show how decidedly bad my picking skills are. I will also look to see if I can find a Money Line parlay or two each week and keep track of those imaginary wagers separately.
With those two items about schedule and content in mind, the individual rants will follow a formula:
- First will be a review of the previous week’s imaginary Six-Pack wagers and Money Line parlays.
- Then I will review the progress of the football season for the Division III Linfield College Wildcats. I have no affiliation with the school whatsoever, but I have followed their football program for about the last 20 years since I learned that their last losing season in football was in 1956. I know of no other school or franchise that can match 65 consecutive winning seasons in football. [Aside: Linfield did not play any football in 2020 due to COVID.]
- After that, there will be college football comments followed by a look at some of the games on the schedule for that weekend. I will also keep track of the teams in contention for my Brothel Defense of the Year Award. That award goes to the team that gives up the most points per game for the year; everyone scores on the Brothel Defense…
- Starting in late October/early November I will begin to identify teams I want to place in an imaginary thing I call the SHOE Tournament. SHOE is an acronym standing for Steaming Heap Of Excrement; what I want to do is identify the worst team of the year. So, I pick my worst 8 teams and put them in an imaginary tournament where the winner goes home, and the loser must play on until there is an ultimate loser – – the SHOE Team.
- Then there will be NFL commentary followed by comments on the games for the weekend.
So, let me get started for this first week by noting the obvious that there was no Six-Pack from last week to review nor did Linfield College play a game last weekend. However, the Wildcats will open their season tomorrow with a cross-country journey to Montgomery, AL to take on the Huntingdon Hawks. Last year, Huntingdon was 8-3 for the season and was the conference champion in the USA South Athletic Conference. Last year, Linfield was 11-1 for the season losing only in the third round of the Division III national playoffs and the Wildcats won their Northwest Conference title for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons. Go Wildcats!
College Football Comments:
Nick Saban got a new extended contract from the University of Alabama. It runs through the end of the 2030 football season and will pay Saban a total of $93.6M over that time period. In case you are wondering, Saban will be 79 years old when this extension expires. Someone looked at the terms of the contract and came up with this interesting comparison:
- Nick Saban will make $29,315 per day in the first year of his contract.
- Instate tuition plus room and board at Alabama for the 2022/23 academic year is only $26,326.
One more Nick Saban note if I may. More than a few times, a football coach who has failed in a position or maybe one who has been terminated in an embarrassing way has gone to Alabama as an assistant under Saban. It seems as if time in Tuscaloosa with Saban is like the fountain at Lourdes because it seems to cleanse the unsuccessful or embarrassed assistant and puts him on a path to get a new gig. I mention this because I read earlier this week that Jon Gruden wants to get back into the coaching game after being fired for sending “shameful emails”.
- Memo to Jon Gruden: You must have Coach Saban’s phone number somewhere.
Northwestern 31 Nebraska 28: The Huskers’ offense looked good in the first half; the defense – – not so much. Early in the third quarter, Nebraska led 28-17 and seemed to have the game in hand. Then they call for an onside kick that Northwestern recovered and had a short field. That led to a quick TD that put Northwestern back in the game. At that point the Huskers’ offense vaporized and from that point on, here are the results of Nebraska offensive possessions:
- Total net yards on those 6 possessions = 85 yards
Meanwhile, the Huskers’ inability on defense to stop the run or to tackle efficiently came to the fore. Northwestern – – probably not an offensive juggernaut – – wound up gaining 528 yards on offense.
I had Scott Frost on the coaching hot seat in my College Football Pre-season analysis about two weeks ago; He gets a breather on his schedule for the next two weeks with North Dakota and Georgia Southern on tap. But on September 17, Nebraska plays Oklahoma and if the Sooners win that game in a blowout, Scott Frost may not make it until 1 October as the head coach in Lincoln.
Nebraska football has not been the same since Tom Osborne hung up the whistle. Osborne was the coach in Lincoln from 1973 through 1997; his record over that stretch was a gaudy 255-49-3. His teams won 3 national championships and won or shared 13 Conference titles. Since his departure, Nebraska has had five head coaches – including Scott Frost – and none have satisfied the Husker fans because none have come close to Osborne’s level of success. Indeed, the Huskers’ ran Bo Pelini out of town notwithstanding a record over 6.5 seasons of 67-27; that was just not good enough for fans to put up with Pelini’s “prickly personality”.
This is Scott Frost’s fifth season at Nebraska and at this moment his combined record is 15-30 and the best conference finish in those seasons has been tied for 5th place in the Big-10 West. Sure, things might turn around in Lincoln this year – – but I am not betting on it.
- [Aside: You have surely read that there was a computer/Internet glitch at the stadium in Dublin for this game meaning people could not pay for things or get money from ATMs, so the catering company gave away free food and beer for a coup-le of hours. #1 son and his wife were at the game; I texted them to be careful because “free beer” is not necessarily a good thing at a sporting event. Their text in reply said that if fans had been deprived of food and beer for the game, that alone would have started a riot. Fortunately, there was no violence at the game – – unless you count what happened to the Nebraska football team on the field.]
By the way, last year Nebraska was a 7-point favorite over Illinois in the first game of the year and Nebraska lost outright by more than a TD. This year, Nebraska closed as an 11.5-point favorite over Northwestern and lost outright again. Just another negative indicator…
Vandy 63 Hawaii 10: I know; it is only Week Zero in the college football season, but that score indicates to me that Hawaii is going to be very bad this season. Yes, Vandy is an SEC team and Hawaii is an also-ran in the Mountain West Conference; yes, Vandy was supposed to win this game. But no, Vandy was not supposed to romp and stomp its way to 63 points including 35 points in the third quarter alone. How bad was this beating?
- Vandy gained 404 yards on the ground
- Vandy gained a total of 601 yards on offense.
To put that in perspective, I am confident that there will be at least three SEC games on Vandy’s schedule this year where their total rushing yards over the three games will not equal 404 yards.
College Football Games This Week:
(Fri nite) Illinois at Indiana – 4.5 (48.5): Two also-rans in the Big-10 get their seasons started. Hi ho…
(Fri nite) Va Tech – 6.5 at Old Dominion (48): Really? I know the Hokies are “rebuilding” but only 6.5 points over Old Dominion? Over the last 4 seasons in C-USA, Old Dominion has posted a combined record of 16-33; the Monarchs have jumped to the Sun Belt Conference for this season, and this is their first game. And Va Tech is less than a touchdown favorite?
(Fri nite) Temple at Duke – 9.5 (50): Both of these teams are going to be bad this year. The winner of this contest will be the “less worse” team…
(Fri nite) TCU – 13.5 at Colorado (57): The spread here opened the week at 7.5 points and has exploded to this level as the week wore on. You can even find the spread at 14 points at one Internet sportsbook.
Utah – 2.5 at Florida (51): Utah was the PAC-12 rep to the Rose Bowl last year; Florida was good but not great in the SEC last year. This is an important recognition game for Utah; they are seeking to garner attention east of the Mississippi River with a good showing against a well-recognized SEC team in a difficult venue. I won’t make a selection in this game – – but I will watch it.
BYU – 11 at USF (58.5): BYU won 10 games last year and I read a report somewhere that said the entire defensive unit is back for this year. USF has been miserable for the past 3 seasons posting a record of 7-26 over that span. I like BYU to win and cover here; put this in this week’s abbreviated Six-Pack.
Notre Dame at Ohio St. – 17 (59): Ohio State beat people last year by outscoring them with a potent offense; the Buckeyes’ defense was not nearly so good. Has that been fixed over the offseason? If not, that line is more than fat; it is obese. I will not make a selection, but this is a game to watch to provide data for future games involving both teams.
Colorado St. at Michigan – 31 (62): Jim Harbaugh and the schedulers in Ann Arbor should be ashamed…
UNC at Appalachian St. – 1.5 (57): The spread opened with UNC as a 2.5-point favorite and has moved toward Appalachian St. steadily all week long. I know it is a road game for the Tar Heels, but I am a bit surprised at this line and this line movement.
Army at Coastal Carolina – 2.5 (54.5): Army will run the ball at least 80 % of the time; Coastal will run the ball more than half the time. That makes for a running clock and less time for scoring drives. Ergo, I like this game to stay UNDER 54.5; put this in this week’s abbreviated Six-Pack.
Tulsa – 6.5 at Wyoming (44.5): The spread opened with Tulsa as a 1-point favorite, and it jumped quickly to 3.5 points and has continued to rise. I have no idea why, but that sort of line movement makes the game interesting to observe.
Rice at USC – 32 (62): This is another mismatch that should never have been scheduled.
Bowling Green at UCLA – 23.5 (57): The Bruins are not exactly a powerhouse, but Bowling Green has not won more than 4 games in a season playing a MAC schedule since 2015.
Oregon at Georgia – 17 (53): The Dawgs are the defending national champions but an awful lot of their superb defensive players from last year have moved on to the NFL. Also, their defensive coordinator from last year, Dan Lanning, has moved on; Lanning is now the head coach at – – Oregon. As the PAC-12 struggles for recognition and relevance, Oregon is one of its top-shelf programs; they must not be blown out here.
Utah St. at Alabama – 41.5 (62): The only way this game is important is if Utah State wins outright. As of this morning, you can get Utah St. on the Money Line at +25,000. Good luck…
Cincy at Arkansas – 7 (53): Cincy was last year’s Cinderella making it to the CFP with a 13-0 record until they ran into Alabama. Last year Cincy punched over its head and beat Notre Dame in South Bend. Arkansas is neither Notre Dame nor Alabama, but Cincy is not the same squad either; they lost plenty of starters in the NFL Draft.
Houston – 4 at UT – San Antonio (61.5): I like Houston this year; I think they could win 11 games. Give me Houston to win and cover here on the road; put this in this week’s abbreviated Six-Pack.
La-Monroe at Texas – 41 (66.5): The spread opened at 37.5 points, and it has climbed all week to reach this level. When the Longhorns win, you will hear lots of screeching that “Texas is back!” When you hear that remember that Texas lost its last 7 Big-12 games in a row last year including a 57-56 loss to Kansas. I said KANSAS! So, if beating up on a team that aspires someday to achieve mediocrity means “Texas is back!”, it may be a situation of diminished expectations for the Longhorn faithful.
(Mon nite) Clemson – 23.5 at Ga Tech (50.5): The spread opened at 18 points and has risen steadily. The oddsmakers obviously believe that Clemson is back after a down season; the betting public obviously is even more convinced on that point than are the oddsmakers. It may be interesting to tune into this game for “future reference”.
Let me review this week’s abbreviated Six-Pack – – which should be called a Three-Pack:
- Houston – 4 over UT-San Antonio
- Army/Coastal Carolina UNDER 54.5
- BYU – 11 over USF.
And here are two Money Line Parlays of interest:
- BYU @ minus-400
- Ohio State @ minus 750
- Georgia @ minus 750
- Va Tech @ minus 245 $100 wager wins $126.09
- Arkansas @ minus-250
- San Diego St. @ minus-230
- James Madison @ minus-215 $100 wager wins $194.30
Finally, I have resumed Football Friday because the calendar tells me to do so. Let me close this first one of the season with some observations about “the calendar” from folks you know:
“The calendar and the clock are both set by football season and the offseason.” [Tom Coughlin]
“My wife’s jealousy is getting ridiculous. The other day, she looked at my calendar and wanted to know who May was.” [Rodney Dangerfield]
“Football teams represent cities and colleges and schools. The people have built great stadiums, and the game is culturally intertwined with our calendar. We don’t go back to college for the college. We go back for a football game, and, yes, we even call that ‘homecoming’.” [Frank Deford]
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………