Games of Sept. 7, 2019
Cincinnati at Ohio State, Noon ET ABC
Ohio State should beat Cincinnati unless something goes terribly weird. Not that weird is never a way something sometimes goes.
Cincinnati beat UCLA last week 24-14 and that’s supposed to impress us. But I watched the game, and, no. UCLA is godawful and Cincinnati is not too godawful, so things went down about the way one would expect. UCLA Coach Chip Kelly, once the toast of ball, has apparently fallen into the category of coaches who got rich by getting fired and is coasting his way through this UCLA gig, swimming pools, movie stars.
Ohio State is led by quarterback Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia because he couldn’t beat out Jake Fromm and was going to spend another year on the bench in Athens. He also said some baseball player called him a racial slur, which created an unanticipated hostile environment (in Georgia, he didn’t suspect there might be a few like that? Hint 1: There’s a 400-foot-tall carving of Gen. Robert E. Lee and some other gigantic official Confederate mucky mucks on the side of Stone Mountain in Atlanta, and Lester Maddox is from here – google him.).
But it worked, and the NCAA granted an exemption to let him play without sitting out a year, which is great for him and for Joe Burrows, who graduated from tOSU, got the hell out of Columbus, went to Baton Rouge, will start for LSU again this year.
Fields played in spots for Georgia last season, wasting a year of eligibility doing stuff like getting tackled miles short of a first down on an ill-advised fourth-period fake punt in the SEC Championship Game. That gave Alabama the ball at midfield which culminated in a late score and another catastrophic, lead-blowing, soul-crushing Bulldog loss to Bama in a championship game.
The hero of that comeback was Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, who came off the bench when Tua Tongavailoa, who had beaten him out for the starting job, got helped off the field with a wicked high ankle sprain after repeated futile efforts to run or complete passes against the ruthless Georgia D. Hurts came on, sliced and diced the Georgians, led Bama to victory, and parlayed that performance into a transfer to Oklahoma, where last week gained more than 500 yards and scored four touchdowns being the hell out of Houston, which would probably give Cincinnati a good game.
In the most interesting game of the day, Texas hosts LSU, led by Joe Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State last year after he couldn’t beat out J.T. Barrett or Dwayne Haskins.
All these transfer quarterbacks. It makes you think that there are probably a lot of former second-string quarterbacks out there in the world now whose day came and went without the magical transfer portal. So now, they’re pushing 40, wearing short sleeve shirts and a tie, driving around in a Honda Accord, selling bosom enhancers or something, like Uncle Rico in “Napolean Dynamite.” Bless their hearts, born too soon. I know that feeling.
These days, they could have transferred to some other school, played well enough to go to the NFL in the sixth round, make the team, then stand on the sideline in a ball cap holding a clipboard for a few years. And in that alternate reality, this Saturday, they could be sitting on the dock of their lake house watching the cork bob in the water, waiting for the pension check to come in the mail while the sounds of the game float in from a distant radio.
LSU at Texas, 7:30 p.m. ET ABC
Definitely. This is definitely the year. LSU has a lot of talent from here to yonder. Good Old Coach Ed Orgeron is walking around saying Yow Yow Yow Go Tigas with a glint in his eye, and promises that the offense will run more than the same three plays they’ve run since Billy Cannon ran back that punt on Halloween and beat the Ole Miss Rebels (Hey, Rebels. Sorry about last week. I really thought y’all could beat Memphis with all those new hot-shot coaches and a 31-man signing class that ranked in the Top 25. Silly me. I guess I forgot for a minute that y’all are the Rebels. Have you thought about any new names instead of Rebels? I’m working on a list for you, because I like you, and want the best for you, and I understand William Faulkner because I drank a lot in college. The main thing is, you have got to change that name, and while you’re at it, get your more rambunctious low-torque male students to stop shooting up the Medgar Evers historical marker with rifles. Trust me. You’ll all be much happier and Saturdays will be so much funner!” You’ll have more time to drink! What more motivation does any Mississippian need?)
You hear it every year abut this time, about how this is the year for the LSUs to finally take their place among the football elite. I like Ed Orgeron, I liked Les Miles, too, for that matter, and I want it to be true this time, and this time, maybe it is because … JOE BURROW is going to be flinging the ball around in a purple and gold football suit instead of filing his nails on the Horseshoe sideline attired in spotless scarlet and gray.
Burrow was a big boost last year, he keyed the Tigers up, played like a tough guy, made some big plays and looked really good at times. He looked absolutely lethal last week against Georgia Southern, but you know, it was Georgia Southern.
After long years in the wilderness, Texas is kind of the same way this year, getting its Texas self back: talking big, walking big, and when you look across the field and see all those hogs in those cool-ass, old-school burnt-orange jerseys, you think maybe they have the boys to back it up a little this time. And they’re in the Big 12, so basically, they have to beat LSU this week and Oklahoma and they get to lose to Clemson in the first round of the playoffs next year.
Coach Tom Herman earned his way to the job where every other fan is a billionaire. He got Houston into a New Year’s Six bowl when he was there, which is short of walking on water, but pretty close to turning water to wine. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at Ohio State and in 2015 he was down to his third string quarterback, the big, lumbering Cardale Jones, facing a heavily favored Alabama in the first-ever college football playoff. Well, he turned Cardale into Steve Young for a couple of hours and the Bucks lit up Bama’s vaunted and totally unprepared D for hundreds of yards rushing and passing – and having Zeke Elliott in the backfield before he went crazy helped, because every time you looked up, boogedey, boogedey, there he went, zoom, right by the Crimson Tide linebackers, who, running as hard as they could go, saw nothing but the bottoms of his feet and the top of his helmet grow smaller and smaller as he pulled away. OSU won 42-35 and then beat the Oregon Ducks like everybody does when the chips are down. Urban Meyer had won another national championship. Buckeye fans thought they’d never lose again. Herman got on the first thing smoking for Houston – and now he’s turning Texas around and fixing to play a kid who also escaped Ohio State to his great personal advantage.
Texas QB Sam Ehlernger is a strapping lad who’s really competitive, runs his mouth a little too much and throws his body around the field as he directs the Texans up and down the field like a stampede of renegade cows. LSU coach Ed Orgeron compared him to Tim Tebow, which you can kind of see if you squint. He’s not as good as Tebow. Ed said that, too.
Ehlinger led Texas to a win over Oklahoma last year, and after beating a dispirited Georgia team in a lackluster Sugar Bowl, he guaranteed the fans that Texas was BACK, BABY, and all the fans did that “hook ‘em horns” thing and whooped and hollered and shot six guns into the ceiling. Not really, it just felt like it.
This game will be great if they just turn the cameras up in the stands and broadcast the fans fighting. These teams have crazy fans.
New Mexico State at Alabama 4 p.m. SEC Network
It’s going to be 98 degrees at kickoff in Tuscaloosa, give or take. The only real question around this game is if Alabama will score the temperature. Well, another question is why do teams like Alabama play teams like this? Nick Saban has said Power 5 schools should be required to play five games a year against other P5s. I say, heigh ho. Let’s do it.
The line on this game is Alabama -55.5. If you ever want to give 55.5 points on a football bet, just to say you did it, and probably win, this is the one.
Murray State at Georgia 4 p.m. ESPN2
Murray State is coming off that big 59-20 win over Pikeville, so the Racers will be riding high for this clash with No. 3. Georgia. The only real question around this game is if Pikeville put up 20 on these guys, how many will Georgia score? The line is Georgia -48.5, so maybe you’ll want to parlay Alabama and Georgia this week … don’t do it. Just don’t do it.
West Virginia at Missouri, noon ET, ESPN2
Missouri’s 37-30 loss last week to Wyoming took a lot of the shine off the bold preseason predictions that the Tigers might compete for an East Division SEC Championship. Missouri has a transfer quarterback from Clemson, Kelly Bryant, who got beat out by Thor Odinson, the hammer dropping 6-6 golden god who has never lost a game in college. Kelly didn’t do much good last week against Wyoming.
Missouri is a 14-point favorite. The only thing I know about West Virginia is that Stonewall Jackson was born there, but I think I’d take the 14 based on that alone.
BYU at Tennessee, 7 p.m., ESPN
Well, Tennessee? Can you lose to these guys?
Tulane at Auburn, 7:30 p.m., ABC
Auburn played hard and got lucky against Oregon last week, scoring with nine seconds left to ruin Duck hopes and aspirations of ever beating an SEC team in the history of the world.
I don’t know much about Tulane, except they have a good law school or something.
Auburn will kill them.