By now I’m sure you’ve heard people lamenting how bad this weekend is. Maybe you’ve been that person. Well, I always try my hardest to be honest in this space, and I’ll continue that: they’re right. This is by far the weakest “full” weekend of college football in recent memory. That’s what happens when two power five conferences and a even more lower conferences don’t play.
But just because it’s bad doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be found inside of it. To paraphrase a book/movie quote, we accept the football we think we deserve. If you’re not willing to watch App State-Marshall intently, then yeah you’ll probably want to skip out on this week. But if you really truly love college football, you can recognize some of the undervalued matchups of the weekend.
If you don’t, but wish to, then continue reading below.
Backcountry Petting Zoo Shift
- Campbell-Coastal Carolina: Campbell had a chance to spring an upset over a heavily depleted Georgia Southern slip through their fingers last week when they scored late and decided to go for the win instead of overtime. Coastal Carolina, of course, laid the lumber on Kansas early in a 38-23 win in Lawrence. I expect a full-strength CCU to be tougher than a halved Georgia Southern, but I also want a Campbell transitive victory over Kansas pretty badly.
Psych Rerun Shift
- Houston-Baylor: A matchup of former Southwest Conference foes, this game wasn’t on the schedule this time last week. Despite how quickly this pickup game just materialized out of thin air, FOX was able to pick it up as it’s BIG NOON SATURDAY game of the week, which really just goes to show how unnecessary scheduling non-conference home and homes 15 years in advance just to move it to a neutral site is. As far as the actual game, Houston decided to tank last year and lost their starting quarterback (D’Eriq King, now at Miami) in the process, so they have to find a way to replace that. On the other hand, given how spring practice was cancelled, it’ll be interesting to see how much Dave Aranda has gotten to work with his new team in his first year as a full-time head coach.
- Navy-Tulane: Sadly, the trident that these two teams play for is a non-canon work of fanfiction. But there are actual non-impaling reasons to watch this game: it’ll be good. The past two meetings of these two fine nautical and nautical-adjacent institutions have been decided by a combined six points, with Navy taking three of the last four meetings. Of course, that’s assuming Navy has started practicing with contact since their 55-3 shellacking at the hands of BYU.
- Syracuse-Pitt: This is where the truth about this week’s quality comes into the light. Most of the games this week are just going to be filler and a tough sell. This game is an example of that.
- Tulsa-Oklahoma State: Like this one.
- ULL-Georgia State: And this one.
- USF-Notre Dame: And this one too. But this is notable for some point-and-laugh factor. Notre Dame football, for as storied as it is (and it pretends to still be), how special it wants us to know it is by remaining independent until this year, will be pre-empted by NBC’s coverage of golf. GOLF. And it gets better: the game won’t even be on NBC’s actual sports network, designed for airing sports. NBCSN is airing motorcycle races and a lead-in studio show ahead of the Arsenal-West Ham match. And it gets better: NBCSN is also airing horse racing, whatever “The Bradshaw Bunch” is, and two different NASCAR pre-race shows as well as the Bristol Night Race (which, to be fair, should get top billing). Instead, Notre Dame football will air on USA Network, which now that Psych is over I guess is best knows for being the Wrasslin’ Channel as the home of Monday Night Raw. Characters welcome.
Vegas Gold Shift
- UCF-Georgia Tech: For the second week in a row Georgia Tech gets the top billing in a shift, which is not bad for a team in the middle of a rebuild. Last week they penny-pinched their way to an “upset” of Florida State and while I wouldn’t say they looked great, their defense was good and their offense was somewhat competent, which is a generous upgrade from last season when the triple option training wheels were taken off their bike. This week they play another Florida team, and a better one at that.
- App State-Marshall: They took their time, but my beloved rowdy mountain children eventually dispatched of Charlotte 35-20 last week. This week they face a moderately tougher task in Marshall. Redshirt freshman Grant Wells and the Thunder Herd lit up Eastern Kentucky in week one, putting up 307 yards on 16 attempts with four touchdowns in a 59-0 blowout.
- Charlotte-North Carolina: And this is where the week just sort of falls apart again.
- FAU-Georgia Southern: Okay, so despite the Eagles playing a game, there’s still a lot we don’t know about them because half the damn team was out for one reason or another. So maybe this game could provide some heat? Maybe? If it’s not good it might as well be entertaining.
- SMU-North Texas: This game has some potential and will definitely be good in the opening stages, but I don’t think Seth Littrell, for as great of a job as he has done, has the Mean Green on the level of the Mustangs just yet.
BNR Sacrificial Shift
- Miami (FL)-Louisville: Miami opened the season by surviving a first-half scare against UAB on Thursday night and will have to play a lot better against Louisville on Saturday night. Inversely, Louisville rode a 28-7 lead over Western Kentucky last week to a 35-21 win. And that one touchdown for the Hilltoppers came after a muffed punt that gave them the ball at the one yard line. So while Miami has the talent edge, llvll looked a hell of a lot better in their one game so far this season.
- Wake Forest-NC State: I’ll be honest, it’s kind of hard to hype this game up with two of the least sexy power five schools involved, but they’re pretty much on equal footing so it should be a pretty decent game.
- Texas State-ULM: Pretty much the same thing I said above is valid here, just swap out “power five” for “group of five.”
- Louisiana Tech-Southern Miss: Here’s how bad of a week this week is: Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss, already without a head coach before the calendar turns over into October, is the ESPN2 game of the weeknight shift. However, somehow, SP+ has this game as being decided by less than a touchdown, so if you’re really happy to have football on, you can ride this out.
And as a small bonus for you true degenerates, I unintentionally left out the Abilene Christian-UTEP game that kicks off at 8:00 online. In week one UTEP pulled off the upset over Stephen F. Austin before getting hammered by Texas 59-3. This week they play host to another Texas Southland school, Abilene Christian. And here is the kicker: the Miners are actually favored! It’s by less than a point and half, but still.