#FUNBELT KICKOFF Shift
That’s right friends, we have burned off September completely and as such, we come running into the warm embrace of weeknight mid-major football. The MAC is showing some restraint and waiting until November to allow us to indulge, but the Sun Belt has stepped up in their place and brought us one hell of an offering to start the midweek football season.
Appalachian State is the market inefficiency according to S&P+, where the Mountaineers are ranked TWELFTH (12th) due to a 13th ranked offense and 41st ranked defense and special teams. Of course, those numbers are bolstered by a close loss to Penn State, a cancelled game against Southern Miss, a pair of beatdowns to Charlotte and Gardner-Webb, 45-9 and 72-7.
So we’ll either see a pretty decent Arkansas State team expose the ‘Eers or we’ll get a statement win for ASU. Either way, strap in for a good time.
Deep In The Heart Of Dallas Shift
Hey wow, an actual quality P5 Thursday night game, what are the chances?
Texas Tech and TCU are both Who You Thought They Were, a first-time RPG player who spent all his points on gun accuracy and not a single one on stamina or health versus a closed-in program that routinely overachieves in a power conference with tremendous defense. This is one of those strength vs. strength games that make for great television, and it sucks that I’ll be at CHVRCHES concert instead.
Actually it doesn’t, I’ve been dying to see them since 2013.
ALSO! Georgia Southern at Texas States. It’s football!
Strong Side Shift
It’s an okay Friday night, I guess. Charlie Strong’s Bulls are 5-0 and play their first conference road game Friday night against Tulsa. The 27th-ranked Bulls (according to S&P+) shouldn’t have much issue with the 93rd-ranked Golden Hurricane.
Kicking off alongside it is your token Ivy League game, where Harvard hosts Holy Cross. I won’t judge you, we’re all friends here.
At the tail end of the shift lies Air Force at San Diego State, which shouldn’t be too much of an uphill battle for the Aztecs.
The Sumlin Of All Fears Shift
Kevin Sumlin didn’t have a great first month at Arizona, but it wasn’t an abject disaster either. The Wildcats sit perfectly balanced at 3-3 with wins against Southern Utah, Oregon State, and Cal while dropping their three games against the understandable trio of BYU, Houston, and USC. As of now things are fine, but the thing is nothing stays that way for long (unless you’re like, Kansas State). But that is subject to change with Utah waiting in the wings Friday night. Arizona doesn’t really do anything well, they just...do them. Utah, on the other hand, is very good at playing defense and they are very aware of that fact. If Sumlin’s offense runs into a brick wall Friday night, then “just fine” can turn to “bad” quickly.
It’s A Yikes From Me Dog Shift
So it’s a good thing that the Georgia game is at 2:30 because there isn’t anything that looks compelling heading down the stretch. Like this could be blowout city. Maybe Indiana can hang around and make it a game against Iowa, maybe.
Pitt is due for one upset each season, so their 1:30 kick against Notre Dame is notable but I feel like that is too big of a stage for the Irish to trip up. That Florida State game though...
Let The Valley Shake Shift
The order changes depends on who you are but the two headliners of the afternoon shift are the Georgia-LSU ad Washington at Oregon. Which makes sense, because of the parallels between the two games. On one side you have a program that recently experienced a renaissance and is exploring their true potential and on the home sideline you have a program that reach their heyday in the mid-00’s and early 10’s and has fallen off noticeably lately and is trying to get back up to speed. The visitors are favored but both games are in an environment that can tip the scales, although the kickoff time isn’t ideal.
YOUR defending national champions face a huge test on the road against Memphis, one of the few teams in the country capable and willing to keep pace with UCF in a drag race. Set your DVRs to record this for some Sunday morning entertainment, this one is going all 12 rounds.
This week we’re blessed with not one but two G5 bangers in the afternoon, as the mystery wrapped in an enigma Temple faces off against Navy. I literally have no idea what to expect because Temple’s results have been so scattershot across the board and facing Navy’s triple option is famously difficult to account for.
Why Do We Even Have That Lever Shift
If LSU won last week there was no doubt that GameDay was coming to Baton Rouge (Corso even said as much on-air) but they didn’t, so instead the morning show will air on the site of 4-1 Wisconsin at 5-1 Michigan. I really don’t think this game needs selling, it’s your centerpiece and what you need to put on when you get home.
Outside of that, you have playoff darkhorse West Virginia playing notable Iowa State in Ames, where many championship dreams have been dashed in recent history. It isn’t too crazy to think, Matt Campbell has assembled a good Cyclones team with a stiff defense. Not quite as good as the Mountaineer’s 7th ranked offense, but anything could happen in the trap door that is Jack Trice Stadium.
The rest of the shift is, well, Missouri getting turbokilled, Miami at Virginia, and Virginia Tech at North Carolina. Not much else on more than likely.
Tell Me About The Rabbits, Clay Shift
Despite an S&P+ ranking of 44th, Colorado remains a spotless 5-0. Sitting in August, that looked impossibly great, but as it happens Arizona State was the best team they beat out of the Sun Devils, Colorado State, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and UCLA. USC is by no means great and this is a very winnable game for the Buffs, but I have an unshakable feeling that this is where it all falls apart for CU.
There is no Hawaii after midnight this week, but the ‘Bows are still on late night, and national television to boot. They play BYU on ESPN2, a matchup of the 41st offense against the 50th defense.
Some decent pickings from the MWC round out the day: Boise State at Nevada and Wyoming at Fresno.