Sep. 17--The Sun Belt Conference ruled college football last Saturday. Louisiana-Lafayette won at Iowa State. Arkansas State won at Kansas State. Coastal Carolina won at Kansas.
This week, it’s the American Conference’s turn. Tulsa plays at OSU in a game delayed a week by the pandemic. Houston plays at Baylor in a game that was hastily scheduled after both teams missed out on openers because of the coronavirus (Baylor vs. Louisiana Tech last Saturday, Houston vs. Memphis this Saturday).
And the Sun Belt’s success -- particularly victories in Ames and Manhattan -- should fortify Tulsa’s confidence that it can win in Stillwater.
“I don’t know that those two games changed our mindset,” said TU coach Philip Montgomery “We’re going up there to win, not just go up there to compete.
“We’ve played Oklahoma State in the past. We feel like if we can go up and execute at the level we need to, we’re going to give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
Maybe so. Who knows in this crazy season?
If the Big 12 can go 0-forthe-Sun-Belt, why couldn’t it go 0-for-the-American? Baylor must be itching to play, to go and schedule a foe like Houston.
With a kooky season like this -- interrupted practices, quarantining, delays, limited fans in the stands -- it seems like upsets might be the norm.
Mike Gundy said his staff has decided to not cut down on the level of physical preparation.
“There’s been a level of how physical teams want to prepare, what your limitations are based on the virus, back and forth,” Gundy said. “So we’ve tried to push forward, dealing with the emotions of the players, and continual practice to no games has been much different, but we push hard and continue to do everything we can to try to get our players in a position to where they can play an uptempo, physical game to start the season.”
Let’s get to the predictions:
Tulsa at Oklahoma State: Cowboys 42-21. OSU has won seven straight vs. the Golden Hurricane, the longest streak in the 60-game series. The Cowboys have averaged 40.5 points against TU during that span.
Houston at Baylor: Bears 32-20. The Cougars and Bears have not played since 1995, the final season of the Southwest Conference. So there. Something good has come out of the pandemic.
Miami at Louisville: Cardinals 28-22. Only the fourth meeting in the series since Louisville joined the ACC in 2012. Howard Schnellenberger, the patriarch of both programs, would be ashamed.
Wake Forest at North Carolina State: Wolfpack 29-23. ACC scheduling hasn’t messed up this rivalry. Wake and N.C. State have played every season since 1910.
Central Florida at Georgia Tech: Knights 31-17. Add this to the list of things I thought I’d never hear. ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy, during the Clippers-Nuggets game Tuesday night, quoted the “Central Florida football coach” about something Josh Heupel said concerning adversity.
Syracuse at Pittsburgh: Panthers 34-19. The Orange actually played North Carolina tough for 40 minutes last week.
Boston College at Duke: Blue Devils 24-13. Duke played strong at Notre Dame. BC will be a big comedown from that.
South Florida at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish 48-10. The first non-conference game in Irish history.
Charlotte at North Carolina: Tar Heels 45-24. The 49ers played tough against Appalachian State. They might not go quietly against the Tar Heels.
The Citadel at Clemson: Tigers 63-6. All the intrigue of OU-Missouri State.
Navy at Tulane: Green Wave 28-13. The Midshipmen weren’t ready to play Labor Day night, when Brigham Young hung a 55-3 decision on them. Has Navy improved?
SMU at North Texas: Mustangs 35-27. It’s about 40 miles from campus to campus, but these Metroplex rivals didn’t even play between 1982 and 2006. They’ve met only 15 times ever. That’s crazy.
Austin Peay at Cincinnati: Bearcats 51-10. Man, Austin Peay is getting a lot of promotion. An ESPN game against Central Arkansas to open the season, a game against Pitt last week, now the highly-touted Bearcats.
Appalachian State at Marshall: Mountaineers 31-16. Appalachian State was the big winner in the Sun Belt’s beatdown of the Big 12 last week. If the Mountaineers go 12-0 and win the Sun Belt title, they at least can make an argument for a playoff berth.
Florida Atlantic at Georgia Southern: Owls 28-17. Georgia Southern struggled to beat Campbell last week.
Troy at Middle Tennessee: Trojans 27-10. These schools are not in the same conference. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?
Louisiana Tech at Southern Mississippi: Bulldogs 28-20. No, Louisiana Tech is not in the Sun Belt. La Tech is in Conference USA. Which means Baylor would have been safe last week playing against the Bulldogs.
Liberty at Western Kentucky: Hilltoppers 42-20. Western played Louisville reasonably tough last week.
Stephen F. Austin at Texas-San Antonio: Roadrunners 48-23. Stephen F. lost at UTEP. UTSA won at Texas State. Those Texas schools are staying close to home so far.
Abilene Christian at Texas-El Paso: Miners 24-20. As I was just saying...
Louisiana-Lafayette at Georgia State: Ragin’ Cajuns 31-19. You know, the only way the Big 12 could look worse is if ULL loses this game in Atlanta. Which, heck, is quite possible.
Texas State at Louisiana-Monroe: Bobcats 41-30. Jake Spavital Texas Staters are 0-2 but have been quite entertaining while doing so.
Campbell at Coastal Carolina: Chanticleers 33-24. Just to let you know, Campbell is a Baptist school in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
Last week: 15-5. Season: 22-7.