After a great week of the football, we’re back to a more middle of the road shift, and that’s being kind of generous. Once again, most of the good games aren’t in the evening hour, rather the 2:30 shift. We’ll break it all down after the jump.
GameDay is at State College, PA for Michigan at Penn State.
It’s Still Movie Gallery Stadium To Me Dammit Shift
- South Alabama-Troy: The Trojans are experiencing a down turn immediately following Neil Brown’s departure to West Virginia, sitting at 2-3 and 96th in SP+. But that is still a mile better than South Alabama, who are 1-5, ranked 125th, and are winless against FBS opponents (lone win: 37-14 over Jackson State). The midweek games tend to be assy because of how the prep schedule gets thrown off, but this one might be extra assy.
California Stupor Alles Shift
- UCLA-Stanford: Despite being separated by less than 10 spots in SP+ (63rd to 72nd), the Cardinal are favored by almost a touchdown. UCLA’s offense against Stanford’s defense should be a good contest, but Stanford’s offense should be able to exploit a bad UCLA D.
- ULLaf-Arkansas State: ULLaf stays in the midweek spotlight this week, this time playing away on a Thursday. If you like points, this game could sate your desires given how both teams field offenses in the top half of college with defenses in the bottom half, with the Red Wolves coming in hot (from being burned so much) at 117.
- ETSU-Chattanooga: The Thursday Plus Special features 1-5 ETSU who is winless against FCS and higher opponents against 3-3 Chattanooga. The Mocs’ record is sort of deceiving, given how their three losses are to Tennessee, FCS #2 James Madison and #17 Jacksonville State.
Pitt’s Tether Shift
- Ohio State-Northwestern: The Buckeyes are favored by 26, but you probably could have guessed that. Next in line please.
UPDATE: Thanks to rain in New York City delaying the ALCS and the unstoppable juggernaut that is WWE Friday Night Smackdown on FOX, this game has been preempted and moved to Big Ten Network. And we all laughed that one time when a P12 friday night game got preempted by a truck race...
- Pitt-Syracuse: We have our first true toss-up of the week, gentlemen and gentleladies. We’ve known that the Orange are Flaming Hot Garbage for a while now (well, since Maryland got exposed at least) but so has Pitt. The Panthers just have the win (by one point) over UCF to distract us. Here are Pitt’s margin of victories and defeats: 16-point loss to Virginia, 10-point win over Ohio, seven-point loss to Penn State, one point over UCF, three points clear of Delaware (DELAWARE) and beat Duke by three. The Panthers have been operating in the margins with a horrible offense (114) and a great defense (!1), and now they get to play the less extreme and lucky version of themselves: Syracuse has the 80th best offense and 50th best defense.
- Marshall-FAU: Marshall’s offense: 82nd. Marshall’s defense: 82nd. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. Meanwhile, the Owls aren’t faring too much better under Lane, ranking 73rd in offensive SP+ and 86th in defensive.
In Vino Vertitas Shift
- UNLV-Fresno State: The Bulldogs shouldn’t have too much issue with taking care of the Rebels, who rank 117th.
- Iowa State-Texas Tech: In year one of the Matt Wells era, the Red Raiders are one of the most...overlooked teams. Despite being 3-3. TTU is ranked higher than you’d assume, falling in at 34th. At the time, their loss to Arizona looked bad, but the Wildcats might actually be a halfway respectable team after losing to Hawaii in Week Zero. Outside of that, they lost to Oklahoma (duh) and a Baylor team experiencing the breakthrough. This week we’ll get a more known data point for the Red Raiders, as the 16th-ranked Cyclones come into town.
- Florida-South Carolina: At first I balked at this game, given how the Gamecocks are down to their third stringer starter after losing Jake Bentley and Ryan Hilinski. But even still, the Gators are still only favored by five on the road so I guess it could be close? South Carolina’s defense is significantly better than LSU’s is, by half at that. So, why not take a flyer?
- Purdue-Iowa: Rondale Moore is still out for the Boilermakers, and boy does that hurt given how badly they need him for this game. The Hawkeyes have yet to allow more than 17 points this season, and that was Penn State last week in their first loss of the season. Purdue doesn’t have a better offense than PSU, especially without Moore.
- Georgia Tech-Miami: The Yellow Jackets are having a tough time transitioning out of the option age, ranking 106th in offensive SP+. Not ideal when you’re lined up against a Manny Diaz defense.
- TCU-Kansas State: Because nothing is ever easy, this game has a late kick to it and is only going to be found on your Fox Sports Regional. Depending on where you are, this one may require some digging. But if you can find it, it should be a good game, with TCU hitting the road favored by a field goal.
Herbie: Fully Loaded Shift
- LSU-Mississippi State: For more information on this game, please visit www dot andthevalleyshook dot com.
- Oregon-Washington: One of the most lowkey scornful rivalries, the Huskies still lead the all-time series 60-46-5 despite a 12-game win streak rattled off by Oregon between 2004 and 2015. This year’s entry should be a BANGER, with the Ducks favored by just a point in SP+, with the swinging factor being their top-ranked defense. Yes, you read that right. Oregon’s top-ranked defense.
- Baylor-Oklahoma State: Another close game, this one SP+ says is a virtual toss-up with the slightest nod toward Baylor (0.4 points). Two classic maxims of good, not great teams are at work here: the balanced Baylor ranking 22nd and 23rd in offensive and defensive SP+ while Oklahoma State tilts the scales in favor of the former, ranking 8th and 49th. Some extra heat for the fire: with a win, the Bears remain tied with Oklahoma for control of the Big 12.
- Temple-SMU: Speaking of, here is a potential AAC Championship game matchup. Both teams are undefeated in conference play and tied for the lead in the divisions, although undefeated SMU has a better overall record than Temple. These two teams are right next to each other in SP+, with SMU sitting at 39th and Temple 40th, with seven percentage points between them. The on-field matchups look like this: SMU’s 34th-ranked offense against Temple’s 18th-ranked defense and Temple’s 97th-ranked offense against SMU’s 62nd-ranked defense. Should be a fun one.
- Duke-Virginia: Somebody has to win the ACC Coastal, and right now these two teams are vying for command with identical records, 2-1 in conference play and 4-2 overall. Both teams aren’t #great at offense but field Top-40 defenses, so if you’re the kind who complains about offense running wild and unchecked in college football, here’s you’re defensive war of attrition.
- Kentucky-Georgia: ESPN is doing that thing where they punt on the 2:30/3:00 window and kick off a game at 5:00 so they can sneak in a kickoff at 8:00 to stagger their schedule. I am not expecting a repeat of last week from Georgia, quite the opposite.
Somber Valley Shift
- Michigan-Penn State: We already mentioned how good the Penn State offense is, but their defense is just as good. In fact, exactly as good as it ranked 10th as well. So while the Wolverines have a great defense (3rd), they’ll likely need some lucky bounces to go their way if they want to leave Happy Valley with a win. Because I feel fully confident in saying that they’re not going to rip apart the Nittany Lions with Shea Patterson at the helm.
- Tulane-Memphis: Before last Saturday, Memphis looked like the odds-on favorite to cruise to the AAC East title. Then Temple upended them 30-28 and now the Tigers need to make up some ground. They’ll be fighting an uphill challenge in that regard with 5-1 and 2-0 in AAC Tulane coming up to town. The Green Wave offense (36) against the Tiger defense (27) should be a good matchup, but Memphis’ offense (33rd) should be able to find enough success against the Tulane defense (57) to provide cover.
- Texas A&M-Ole Miss: This has all the makings of a game that Ole Miss will hang around longer than expected, only to have the depth of Texas A&M’s bench come through in the last 12 minutes or so. In fact, I’d bet that’s what happens.
- Arizona-USC: First off you probably can’t watch this game legally, but if you can, then I don’t really know what to tell you. I’m tired of trying to diagnose the Trojans. They lost 30-27 to Notre Dame with a backup quarterback. They’re not particularly good but they’re bad. Does Clay Helton deserve to be fired? Probably not. I don’t want to blow off the results of the season but I’m not about to pin a coach’s job on an injury. And unless they either drop the hammer or get hammered by Arizona, it probably won’t change.
- Tennesse-Alabama: For whatever reason, this is the game ESPN decided to follow the Kentucky massacre at 5:00. I don’t get it either but whatever.
Don’t Believe His Lies Shift
- Nevada-Utah State: The first offering of the late night shift involves The Good Aggies, who are favored by over two possessions.
- Boise State-BYU: Ever since BYU beat Tennessee and USC back to back, the Cougars have lost three straight: a 45-19 blowout to Washington, 28-21 Toledo, and 27-23 to South Florida. I’m not sure why the spread for this game is eight, but I am NOT buying it reader. Prepare yourselves for a Boise Beatdown
- Air Force-Hawaii: The saving grace of this shift is that we get a Hawaii home game kicking off at 10...ON CABLE TELEVISION! MAHALO TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!