Let me start by saying that the weekend before Halloween should always be the date for the Ole Miss game. Anything else is wrong. But as it stands, having a stress-free weekend before the Alabama game is the next best thing. Here is how to max out your enjoyment of non-LSU football. All rankings are S&P+.
We’re back into the Tuesday night #FunBelt grind with Troy at South Alabama. They can’t all be winners. Still preferable to a Boston-Los Angeles World Series.
I Got Options Shift
Whoa, so after being absolute rubbish all season long, we finally get a pretty damn good Thursday.
There are two big name eye-catchers, but those are likely to be the worst games of the bunch. The first of which is Baylor at West Virginia at 6:00 on FS1. After one of the worst offensive performances of the year against Iowa State, the Mountaineers had a bye to retool for the Bears, who sports a pretty bad defensive, 97th overall.
30 minutes later, Georgia Tech plays their annual Thursday night rivalry with Virginia Tech. This one figures to be a close game for a majority of the time just by virtue of Georgia Tech’s efficient offense, but I don’t trust the Yellow Jacket’s 104th ranked defense to contend with the Hokies for all four quarters.
The real game with potential is Appalachian State at Georgia Southern, a game for command of the Sun Belt East. The Mountaineers are the better team according to metrics, but Georgia Southern runs the triple option just like the team upstate. Also like GT, Southern doesn’t really do the defense thing as well as desired. So if the GSU offense can stay on the field for six or seven minute chunks and walk off with points, maybe we can get a stew going.
The shift rounds out with two #MACtion prequels: Ball State at The Ohio University of Ohio (OH) and Western Michigan hosting Toledo.
After two opening losses to Syracuse and big Michigan, Western Michigan has rattled off six straight wins and outscored opponents 246-123 during the stretch. Granted, the best team they played was ranked 66th and that was a 27-24 game, but wins are wins and they have a great chance to run that to seven against the 83rd ranked Toledo.
Big East Friday Shift
Friday night kicks off with a C-USA cracker of a game: Louisiana Tech at FAU. The Bulldogs are fairly balanced for a G5 team, with a 72nd ranked offense and a 78th ranked defense. The Owls, on the other hand, are more extreme: a 43rd ranked offense and 95th ranked defense. If Mario Football existed, this would be Baby Luigi against Toad.
Thirty minutes later the P5 train gets rolling when Miami (FL) makes the long trip to
Boston Chestnut Hill. Long gone are the heady days of 55 points per game scoring Boston College, and I highly doubt we see a return against Miami (FL). The Eagles defense is still pretty good, and because of the Hurricanes’ offense being not that, I think this game holds some value.
Indiana at Minnesota will probably be a close game, but uh, don’t count on it being good. Focus on the first two games and let those finish before seeing what’s going on in the northeast.
Westwood Whittingham Shift
Wyoming: 119th offense. Colorado State: 112th defense. Stoppable force vs. movable object!
And then Utah should have a dub wrapped up in Westwood pretty early, so go out and be social. Or go to bed early, I’m not your boss.
As A Medill Grad, Shift
Florida State has the talent to hang with Clemson, but they...probably won’t. But it warrants keeping an eye on just the same.
Believe it or not, in the final weekend of October Texas Tech still controls their destiny as far as the Big 12 goes. But they have the outside track, as they have to face Iowa State’s #31 defense. In Ames. I feel like that last bit bears worth mentioning.
Speaking of surprisingly important games, Northwestern plays Wisconsin in a Big Ten East de facto elimination game. The Badgers will likely win by double digits but there is an off-chance that Northwestern’s defense keeps them in the game just enough for them to have a shot.
After starting off a rough 0-3, Purdue has picked up four straight, culminating in last week’s beatdown of Ohio State. And it honestly should be five in a row, as the Boilermakers had postgame win expectancy of 64% against Missouri and have scored 37, 30, 42, 46, and 49 in the last five games. Jeff Brohm has this train rolling smooth, now he just has to deal with the 15th ranked defense in East Lansing.
Vandy at Arkansas rounds out the shift. Don’t.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Pocktail Carty Shift
Florida can be ruled out of the SEC East race with a loss in the WLOCP, but that looks a lot less likely than it did two weeks ago. This is still a top-15 matchup, but S&P+ still favors Georgia by a touchdown. Florida’s defense isn’t quite as good as LSU’s but their offense is nearly twice as better, which should make up the defense. So I don’t know, I honestly don’t. I’m going into this one as blind as I can be. Should be a good one and the centerpiece of your Saturday.
30 minutes after the World’s Largest Playboi Carti kicks off, the other team vying for a trip to Atlanta has a pretty big hurdle to clear. Kentucky travels to CoMo for a strength vs. strength matchup with Missouri. S&P+ likes the Tigers by a field goal, a pretty big margin for two teams separated by three spots. I guess the numbers like offense more than defense.
We get that balanced team vs. wildly unbalanced team matchup again two more times in this shift. Houston (8th offense, 84th defense) hosts USF (28th offense, 53rd defense). Okay, maybe USF isn’t completely balanced but I think this one has potential to be the compliment to the WLOCP.
Arizona State at USC is the mirror of this game. Check your local listings:
Iowa (73rd offense, 9th defense) and Penn State (18th offense, 27th defense) is a better representation of this, and holds some pretty big significance in the Big Ten West running for Iowa.
The Forbidden Network Shift
A week after their monumental win over Oregon, Wazzu has to go to the farm and face Stanford. And nobody can watch it, because it’s on the PAC-12 Network. Great job guys, gg.
Things haven’t been going great for Oklahoma State and they have been for Texas. The Longhorns have won the last two games despite a less than 33% postgame win expectancy, including nine percent (9%) against Oklahoma. Okie Light has the better metrics, but were blown out by Kansas State and Texas Tech and dropped a shootout in Ames. I think we’ll see the numbers even themselves out in this game, one way or another.
And hopefully we do, because the rest of the shift is really bad: Navy at Notre Dame, Washington at Cal, and Texas A&M-Mississippi State.
Hello And Goodbye Shift
After dropping last week’s game in Pullman, Oregon shouldn’t have much problem getting back on track in Tuscon, but it remains as likely the best game of the nightcap.
As sad as it is to say Fresno State will likely demolish Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors’ offense is good but isn’t quite up to the Bulldogs’ defense (Fresno State fields a better defense than LSU).
SDSU-Nevada rounds out the week.