A special edition, looking at the weekday games for this week.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
(Just pretend this was posted on time for these games.)
- Northern Illinois @ Bowling Green (ESPN2): The weather may be getting colder, but rest assured the MACtion is just heating up. Both of the teams involved last week’s torrid 63-60 affair return tonight, but this time with different partners. However, Bowling Green has not displayed the same proficiency in the offensive arts as NIU has, which is likely bad news for the home team here.
- Western Michigan @ Toledo (ESPNU): Now, if you’re looking for a repeat of last week’s game then this is the place to be, most likely. That said, the Rockets looked pretty unstoppable in the MAC until they ran into NIU, so I’ll go with them.
8:00: Miami @ Temple (ESPN): The MACtion isn’t just confined to Tuesday nights, though. Oh no. Miami is dead last in the country in rushing, but rest assured they can throw it around, though against the only solid MAC team they’ve played (Toledo) they lost 49-28. Temple is the opposite – yes, they’ve lost to Toledo as well, but they are 8th in the country in rushing but 115th in passing. Ohio exploded for an unheard of 35 points against the Owls last weekend, so we may be in for more scoring than Temple’s stingy 12.8 points allowed per game may make you think. I still like the Owls though.
7:30: Ohio @ Central Michigan (ESPNU): Remember, Central Michigan is the bad directional Michigan this year. Bobcats should roll.
- Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): [N.B.: “Tech” refers to Georgia Tech here. -ed] Every year there’s been a Coastal Division of the ACC, there’s been this game. And the winner of this game has been the Coastal Division champ. Twice has the good Tech won this one. The 2006 game I remember because my old cell phone still has a text message from my brother on September 30, 2006 on it: “Omg 21-0 gt” – I got said text because I was out of town that Saturday and wasn’t able to watch but the last 10 minutes or so of the game.
The marbles are once again on the line with those one – though it should be noted due to GT’s loss to Virginia that Tech cannot clinch without another Virginia loss. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, which may well not be what Tech needed because the worst thing that happened in that Clemson game was halftime. (Well, other than the offsides non-call.)
In way, these teams could not be farther apart going into the game, in terms of the game they played going into this. Georgia Tech played their best game since 2009 against Clemson, dominating in all phases in the game. VPI meanwhile struggled to put points on the board against Duke. The Blue Devils missed three FGs as well, any two of which could’ve allowed them to pull off the upset.
Not that it matters, of course. Going into a Thursday night game in Atlanta is, objectively, much more exciting than going into Wallace Wade Stadium at any time. Add in the ticket to a rematch against Clemson being on the line and that puts together a recipe for a huge game. Who will win? I don’t know. I like our chances if we play like we did against Clemson, but the odds us playing as good as we did against the Tigers and VPI playing as bad as they did against the Blue Devils is low, as I just said.
It will come down to the usual things: defense and special teams. Special teams have been a tremendous concern for Georgia Tech this year, while it looks like Beamerball has been back in full force in Blacksburg. Even if Tech managers to avoid punting or kicking field goals (the ideal scenario), kickoff coverage has still been horrendous outside the Clemson game. The Georgia Tech defense, meanwhile, played its best game since John Tenuta was let go after 2007. They were able to confuse Tajh Boyd with a variety of zone and corner blitzes, which worked mainly because the secondary (and Jamea Thomas especially) played the games of their lives out on the Isles of Man Coverage. It feels funny to type this when you consider that Clemson still ran up nearly 400 yards of offense, but outside of one Sammy Watkins TD catch their offense was kept in check. (17 points was, and probably will remain, Clemson’s lowest point total of the season.) The other key: they weren’t on the field that much. The GT offense held on the to the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game, including the soul-sucking nine minute drive in the fourth quarter that saw Clemson get the ball back down two scores with two minutes to go.
Suffice it to say, I think the Jackets will need similar heroics to prevail over the Hokies.
- Houston @ Tulane (CBSS): Houston should be able to name its own score against the hapless Green Wave.
8:00: South Florida @ Syracuse (ESPN2): USF has had a very symmetric season, but not in a good way: they started off with four straight (including an increasingly more inexplicably upset of Notre Dame) and now have dropped four straight. Inexplicable is a pretty excellent word to describe the Big East as a whole, though. The Orange have dropped two straight after their dominating upset over West Virginia and sits at the precipice of bowl eligibility. They’ll probably get it, but the problem is when? I say here, most likely, because I’ve really given up on trying to predict anything about the Big East – the ‘Cuse could lose this one and go knock off Cincinnati next week, which, let’s face it, is probably the most likely scenario.
Enjoy the rest of your week, and see if you can’t catch the tail end of the Toledo-WMU game. That looks like a good one. Otherwise, I’ll be back with Saturday’s games sometime Friday or Saturday.