The 2019 college football season is now into its second month as we continue to propel unabated through the fastest three months on the calendar.
There are three matchups between ranked teams this weekend, including two in the Big Ten.
The rest of the slate ain’t bad either, beginning tonight in Cincinnati.
There are plenty of games that will have some kind of impact on Ohio State’s playoff chances this weekend, but if the Buckeyes’ keep playing as well as they are so far, nothing else will matter.
But since I’ve already kind of started writing this week’s Tip Sheet, I’d prefer just to continue and finish it because I don’t want to waste what I’ve done so far because it’s gone pretty well.
Friday, October 4
Teams: #18 UCF (3-1, 1-0) at Cincinnati (3-1, 0-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Cincinnati
You are rooting for the Bearcats here because a win over UCF could make Cincinnati the top Group of Five school out there. This would obviously help the Buckeyes because they dominated UC a few weeks back. UCF has won three in a row here, all by at least 21 points. Luke Fickell is 0-2 against the Knights and this is Cincinnati’s opportunity to make a stand. The Bearcats own a 10-point win over UCLA, a 22-point win over Miami (OH), and a 38-point win at Marshall. They are clicking right now and moved on quickly from their shutout loss at Ohio State. Outside of a bizarre loss at Pittsburgh, UCF hasn’t even been challenged. True freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel leads the AAC in pass efficiency. The only two interceptions he’s thrown this season occurred at Pitt. The Bearcats have to hit Gabriel and pressure him into mistakes. I don’t see them doing it enough to get the win.
UCF 38 – Cincinnati 34
Saturday, October 5
Teams: Utah State (3-1) at #5 LSU (4-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (SECN)
Cheer For: Utah State
Where would the state of Louisiana be without former Big Ten quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Drew Brees? LSU would still be in the stone age and the Saints would probably be in Las Vegas. By the end of the season, we may all regret giving LSU the power of the forward pass.
LSU 59 – Utah State 14
Teams: #6 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) at Kansas (2-3, 0-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Kansas
You are cheering for Les Miles because you don’t like to see bad things happen to odd people. Unfortunately, something very, very bad is going to happen to somebody very, very odd this weekend. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts has been nearly flawless to this point and his September Heisman is sitting nice and pretty in the atrium at OU’s football facility. The Sooners have won 14 in a row in this series, and all by at least 14 points. Kansas would need to score 14 points per quarter just to lose by a touchdown in this one.
Oklahoma 49 – 17
Teams: Kent State (2-2) at #8 Wisconsin (4-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
Wisconsin comes into this game as a 35-point favorite, but don’t jump on that number just yet. Kent State has had a bye week to prepare for this game. So they’ve been able to study Wisconsin’s nuances and what they like to do and who they like to get the ball to on offense. Where would they get that kind of information, you ask? From any single game tape since 1993.
Wisconsin 41 – Kent State 13
Teams: Purdue (1-3, 0-1) at #12 Penn State (4-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Penn State
Purdue comes into this game without quarterback Elijah Sindelar and receiver Rondale Moore, which means they have no shot. Penn State is going to continue to beat up on Big Ten teams like the second-biggest bully in school. They take lunch money, they demand homework from the nerds, they smoke in the bathroom, but 40% of their take always has to go to Ohio State, and lord help them if they’re short on the smokes.
Penn State 41 – Purdue 17
Teams: #14 Iowa (4-0, 1-0) at #19 Michigan (3-1, 1-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Iowa
You’re cheering for Iowa because you’ve got a house payment riding on Ryan Day not winning the Big Ten Coach of the Year award. You also hate Michigan with every ounce of your being, so you’ll be wearing your Hawkeye best on Saturday, but mostly you don’t want your significant other finding out about your bet. I didn’t come into this Tip Sheet expecting to pick Iowa, even though they are entirely capable of beating Michigan. They are very similar to Wisconsin, aside from the explosiveness of Jonathan Taylor. Their running game is only a few yards under the Badgers’ average, which may actually be worse news for Michigan’s defense in that they may never get off the field. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley is better in every passing category this season than Shea Patterson. Iowa’s defense is stout. Where will Michigan’s points come from, other than deep balls and prayers? The Hawkeyes and Wolverines share a common opponent — Middle Tennessee. Iowa beat them 48-3 last week, while Michigan beat them 40-21 to start the season. They moved the ball for 85 more yards against UM, while giving up nearly 200 more yards to Iowa. If there is one thing we know, it’s that the Law of Comparative Middle Tennessee Outcomes is one of the strongest forces in nature, which leaves us no choice but to pick Iowa here.
Iowa 27 – Michigan 24
Teams: Maryland (2-2, 0-1) at Rutgers (1-3, 0-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Maryland
Jim Delany should be sat in a chair and forced to watch this game A Clockwork Orange-style. This is what he wanted, so he should have to attend this game every year until college football crumbles under the passage of the name, image, and likeness laws in late 2020. And if there’s one thing that can get you to root for the decimation of the sport, it’s having to watch this game.
Maryland 52 – Rutgers 10
Teams: #7 Auburn (5-0, 2-0) at #10 Florida (5-0, 2-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: Florida
You are rooting for Florida but you know that it’s not going to pay off. Florida doesn’t win games like this anymore. They are bumpers on a pin ball table. They’re there for the important teams to bounce off of and score points on and make things light up. They don’t do anything else. Florida is 2-0 in the SEC, with victories over Kentucky and Tennessee — aka the two free spaces on a Bingo card. (Yes, in the South there are two free spaces on Bingo cards on account of words with two syllables being difficult for them to spell.) Auburn is going to harass Florida quarterback Kyle Trask and force him into some mistakes. The Gators will need to do the same thing to Tigers’ freshman quarterback Bo Nix. I’m siding with inevitability and the Auburn defense in this one.
Auburn 27 – Florida 23
Teams: #11 Texas (3-1, 1-0) at West Virginia (3-1, 1-0)
Time (TV):3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: West Virginia
You are cheering for West Virginia because a Texas loss here would deal a blow to LSU’s only decent win. Of course, that won’t stop the media freight train from slobbering all of the Tigers, but it will allow you and me to look at those people with even more disdain than we already do. The Longhorns are a 10-point favorite here, but the Mountaineers have actually won three of four in the series. Given that they were destroyed by Mizzou and only managed to win by five at Kansas, I’m not going to side with West Virginia here. But I will stay friendly with them because they have the best fireworks and they don’t charge much for them.
Texas 41 – West Virginia 17
Teams: Baylor (4-0, 1-0) at Kansas State (3-1, 0-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Kansas State
Baylor is currently unranked. Can you imagine a 4-0 SEC team being unranked? No you cannot. Your mind will not allow it. Numbers will lose all meaning. If you try too hard to imagine this, you will eventually be found staring at an open refrigerator in the middle of the night trying to do the math with yesterday’s spaghetti. When somebody finally wakes you, you will ask them if they can imagine a 4-0 SEC team being unranked, they will tell you that the police have been called and that you don’t live here. Then when the police finally arrive, they will break down the door while the two of you are staring into the fridge and repeating, “Can you imagine a 4-0 SEC team being unranked?” Then, about 20 minutes after no responses from the officers, dispatch would send multiple officers to the scene. They would eventually enter the kitchen where you, the homeowner, and two officers are sitting on the kitchen floor eating flour and muttering “Roll Tide.”
Kansas State 23 – Baylor 19
Teams: Illinois (3-2, 0-1) at Minnesota (4-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Minnesota
I heard the radio talking about the possibility of Minnesota starting the season 8-0, and as soon as I heard that I knew that I would be picking against them this week. Then I saw that they were hosting Illinois and there’s no way I can side with Lovie Smith on the road. I also can’t side with Lovie Smith at home. Or at a neutral site. I couldn’t even side with Lovie Smith if we both rolled into the same rest area to take a leak.
Minnesota 30 – Illinois 20
Teams: Virginia Tech (2-2, 0-2) at Miami (2-2, 0-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Virginia Tech
Remember that one time about 15 years ago or so when this game mattered?
Miami 28 – Virginia Tech 17
Teams: Northwestern (1-3, 0-2) at Nebraska (3-2, 1-1)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Nebraska
You are cheering for Nebraska because Northwestern is just painful to watch and you want them completely beaten and giving up by the time Ohio State rolls into town two weeks from tonight. Northwestern has scored fewer points than Rutgers. RUTGERS! The Wildcats have accounted for seven touchdowns this season. Justin Fields has accounted for 23 — though to be fair, he has played in one more game than Northwestern. Let’s watch and see if Nebraska can bounce back a bit this week. I think they’ll still be licking some wounds, but they’ll be able to score the necessary point(s) to get this victory.
Nebraska 24 – Northwestern 9
Teams: #3 Georgia (4-0, 1-0) at Tennessee (1-3, 0-1)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Tennessee
You are cheering for Tennessee because you’ve always had a thing for drinking strawberry turpentine and slamming doors until they break. You also like to get into arguments with people who tell you to “stop it” so that you can reply with the age-old favorite of “you stop it!” Georgia is favored by 24.5 points in Knoxville, which is the largest home underdog line for the Vols in nearly 12 months. Tennessee didn’t play last week, so they’ve had an extra week to prepare for this beating. Their last game was at Florida two weeks ago, which the Gators won 34-3. Before that game started, everyone assumed that Florida would punish them a bit, but that it would be Georgia who would eventually put the real whoopin’ on them this week. I think Florida originally told Tennessee to wait until your father gets home, but then after staring at those stupid orange T’s on their helmets for a few minutes, they couldn’t control their rage any longer and put a hammering on the Vols themselves.
Georgia 42 – Tennessee 14
Teams: #25 Michigan State (4-1, 2-0) at #4 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Ohio State
You are cheering for Ohio State because you will never forgive Michigan State for what they did in 1974 or 1998 or 2013 or 2015. You are also cheering for Ohio State because you are a Buckeye fan. Ryan Day has talked to his team about the history between these two teams, but it is going to be the present that settles things on the football field Saturday night. Michigan State doesn’t have enough offense to outscore the Buckeyes, and if OSU hits the end zone three times, the Spartans will need some turnovers in order to keep up. Ohio State is better in all three phases of the game than Michigan State and they’re at home. That may not have mattered in the past, but it will matter this weekend. Perhaps if those other four games had featured black uniforms, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.
Ohio State 34 – Michigan State 7
Teams: California (4-1, 1-1) at #13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: California
Cal has the better record, but Oregon is ranked higher. It’s almost like voters are trying to help out the SEC by keeping the Ducks — who lost to Auburn — so highly-ranked. (Or maybe they just recognize how close that game actually was and we shouldn’t look for conspiracies everywhere.) (Or maybe it’s both!) (It’s probably both.) California lost their first game of the season last week when they met up with the mighty Arizona State Sun Devils. This week, they’ll need to score a lot more than they did a week ago in order to win this game. I’m not sure they have the firepower.
Oregon 34 – California 20
Teams: #15 Washington (4-1, 1-1) at Stanford (2-3, 1-2)
Time (TV): 10:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Stanford
Stanford is on the way down, which probably means it’s time for David Shaw to take another job somewhere while he is still highly regarded. Of course, this also feels like one of those picture-perfect opportunities for Washington to get upset. The Huskies are favored by 16.5 points, which is a lot in a road game against a rival of sorts. The problem for Stanford, however, is that they can’t run the ball, they don’t throw it very well, and they can’t stop anybody from scoring. They have not been competitive in any of their games against decent competition, and Washington just might be the very definition of “decent competition.”
Washington 41 – Stanford 17