Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (Christmas trees sold separately in Tallahassee):
SEVEN G5 VS. P5 GAMES TO WATCH
If ever the disrespected and deprived lower half of the FBS is going to collectively rise up and demand respect, this is the weekend to do it. Seven unbeaten teams from the Group of Five conferences take their shot at teams from the Power Five cartel that runs the sport. Many of them have a chance. The Dash takes a look at the seven games:
Boise State at Oklahoma State (31). When: 3:30 p.m. EDT Saturday. Where: Stillwater. Line: Oklahoma State favored by 3. This is a huge game for the Broncos, whose tradition has helped them earn an early ranking (No. 17) that gives them a shot at playoff contention. Now they have to win the biggest contest on their schedule, against the No. 24 Cowboys on the road. This is Boise’s only game against a Power Five opponent — and it matches the No. 1 and No. 4 offenses in the country. Dash pick: Boise State 51, Oklahoma State 48.
Central Florida at North Carolina (32). When: Noon. Where: Chapel Hill. Line: UCF favored by 14.5. This is another game in the crosshairs of a hurricane, which means it is very much in doubt at this point. It would be profoundly rotten luck for the Knights if the game is canceled; their 2017 playoff bid was hampered by the hurricane-related cancelation of a game against another ACC team, Georgia Tech. North Carolina is abjectly lousy thus far this year, but beating an ACC opponent would count for more than some others on the schedule. Dash pick: UCF 50, North Carolina 28. (Editor’s Note: This game has been canceled.)
South Florida vs. Illinois (33). When: 3:30. Where: Chicago. Line: USF favored by 9.5. The Bulls have won 17 of their last 19 games, including a 24-point beating of the Illini last year in Tampa. USF is looking to put a second straight Power Five skin on the wall, after beating Georgia Tech on Saturday. Illinois is 2-0 but trailed Kent State for more than half the game in the opener and also trailed FCS Western Illinois for a quarter-and-a-half before taking charge. The Illini are not good. Dash pick: USF 35, Illinois 28.
Miami at Toledo (34). When: Noon. Where: Toledo. Line: Miami favored by 10. The Hurricanes are one of the few high-level Power Five programs willing to play G5 teams on the road, which might tell you how little home-game revenue the program is bringing in. They played at Appalachian State in 2016 and had a game at Arkansas State canceled last year due to a hurricane. The Rockets, 1-0 and with an extra week to prepare, will score enough to keep this competitive. Noon kick could favor the home team as well against a sleepwalking favorite. Dash pick: Miami 37, Toledo 30.
Houston at Texas Tech (35). When: 4:15. Where: Lubbock. Line: No line (Texas Tech starting QB McLane Carter’s status is uncertain after an ankle sprain). The Red Raiders are coming off a 77-0 shellacking of Lamar, as if that’s supposed to mean something. Of greater note was the 20-point loss to Mississippi to open the season. Houston, meanwhile, has beaten Rice and Arizona — overwhelming the Owls in the second half and the Wildcats in the first. If the Cougars put together four quarters they can win this one as well. Dash pick: Houston 45, Texas Tech 42.
Marshall at South Carolina (36). When: 7:30. Where: Columbia. Line: South Carolina favored by 13.5. The Dash originally liked the Thundering Herd in a straight-up shocker, but upon closer examination it seems like a difficult position to take — after being outrushed Saturday by 50 yards by FCS Eastern Kentucky, it’s hard to envision them handling the Gamecocks in the trenches. Dash pick: South Carolina 42, Marshall 28.
Louisiana-Lafayette-Mississippi State (37). When: 7:30. Where: Starkville. Line: Mississippi State favored by 31.5. The Ragin’ Cajuns made some offseason noise by hiring former Nick Saban assistant Billy Napier and giving him a big budget for assistant coaches. But that doesn’t mean UL-L (1-0) is ready for an experienced Bulldogs team that is off to a powerful start under its own new coach, Joe Moorhead. Dash pick: Mississippi State 56, UL-L 21.
COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK
Nick Rolovich (38), Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors are off to a 3-0 start, Hawaii’s best since the 12-1 season with Colt Brennan in 2007. Nobody expected this from a team returning just nine starters, including a new quarterback who was supposed to be a runner and not a thrower — now Cole McDonald is third nationally in passing yards per game (388.3) and eighth in pass efficiency. And Rolovich is becoming known for more than bringing Vegas look-a-like entertainers to Mountain West media day.
But now comes the hard part: the worst body-clock game of all-time. Hawaii plays at noon Saturday at Army, which is 6 a.m. Honolulu time. Hope CBS Sports Network is proud of that scheduling sleight of hand.
COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK
Scott Frost (39), Nebraska. The Cornhuskers paid him $5 million a year to come home and restore the glory. Thus far, here’s what they’ve got: a canceled game against Akron due to lightning; a home loss to former rival Colorado; 11 penalties for 95 yards in that game; a minus-3 turnover margin; and perhaps no quarterback.
Freshman starter Adrian Martinez went down with an injury against the Buffaloes, and former backup Tristan Gebbia left the program days earlier after not winning the job. That could leave the Huskers in the hands of walk-on Andrew Bunch, a sophomore who threw the first nine passes of his career Saturday. After Troy on Saturday, four of Nebraska’s next six are on the road: at Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Ohio State — not really the gauntlet you want for a walk-on QB.
It will get better in Lincoln. But before then it might get worse.
The Dash kept it local over the weekend and discovered an excellent new restaurant. When hungry in Louisville, drop in on Couvillion (40), which does cajun cooking awfully well in Kentucky. Get the New Orleans olive salad, some roasted cauliflower, and red beans and rice with locally produced andouille sausage. Accompany it with whatever local brewery Against The Grain has on tap and thank The Dash later.
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