Big Ten football is almost here. This is our last week of being subjected to conferences like the Big XII and SEC that don’t know how to play defense. Soon, we will once again get to see what defense is supposed to look like when teams like Rutgers and Maryland get back out on the field. It is going to be amazing.
Until then, however, we’ll have to make do with this last batch of store-brand football.
There aren’t a bunch of big games this weekend, which is good because I’ve gotten a very late start on the Tip Sheet. So what it lacks in quantity this week it may also lack in quality, but please don’t let that reflect poorly on me.
Even if it’s not a great read, it still kept you from getting anything done, which is kind of the entire point of this anyway, right?
Saturday October 17
Teams: #1 Clemson (4-0, 3-0) at Georgia Tech (2-2, 2-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Line: Clemson -27
Cheer For: Georgia Tech
I miss the days of Georgia Tech running the triple option because at least then there was some hope that they could overwhelm a team that wasn’t equipped or disciplined enough to stop them. Now that they’re trying to be normal, all it takes to stop them is a normal defense. It will take them a while to build an identity, but head coach Geoff Collins is off to a promising start with a true freshman backfield of quarterback Jeff Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Sims is still mistake prone, having thrown eight interceptions in four games, but it looks like they’re going to ride or die with him. This week will feature a lot of the dying part.
Clemson 48 – Georgia Tech 17
Teams: Pittsburgh (3-2 2-2) at #13 Miami (3-1, 2-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ACCN)
Line: Miami -13
Cheer For: Pitt
You are cheering for Pitt because they’re playing Miami and I shouldn’t really have to explain this to you. I’m interested to see if the Canes can bounce back after they were made to bleed their own blood last week by Clemson. They now know they’re not back, but at this point Miami calls the state of denial home more than they do the state of Florida.
Miami 27 – Pitt 20
Teams: #15 Auburn (2-1, 2-1) at South Carolina (1-2, 1-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Line: Auburn -2.5
Cheer For: South Carolina
It wouldn’t have taken many different bounces for Auburn to come into this game 0-3 instead of 2-1. The SEC had to apologize for allowing the Tigers to win last week. Voters believe in Auburn more than Vegas, which is usually the way the AP poll works. South Carolina’s two losses have come to Tennessee and Florida, but this should be an easier foe this week.
South Carolina 26 – Auburn 24
Teams: Kentucky (1-2, 1-2) at #18 Tennessee (2-1, 2-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (SECN)
Line: Tennessee -6.5
Cheer For: Kentucky
You are cheering for Kentucky because any time Tennessee is ranked it makes everyone look bad. It makes voters look bad. It makes the other teams in that same poll look tainted for being involved in any way with the Vols. It makes the sport look bad that there aren’t 25 teams better than Tennessee. The Cats have a couple of tough losses and are looking to right the ship. The Vols, meanwhile, like to imagine they were with Georgia every step of the way last week, right up until the moment they were outscored 27-0 in the second half. That game was certainly a learning experience for Tennessee, and one of the few learning experiences at the University of Tennessee that isn’t scrawled on a bathroom wall. The Vols are going to be pushed in this one and like a shopping cart with a bad wheel, they may not handle it all that well.
Tennessee 27 – Kentucky 24
Teams: Louisville (1-3, 0-3) at #4 Notre Dame (3-0, 2-0)
Time (TV): 2:30 pm (NBC)
Line: Notre Dame -16.5
Cheer For: Louisville
Notre Dame had a tough win against Florida State last week, and yet they’re still ranked No. 4 in the nation. It’s almost like there’s nobody else to vote for. The Irish won’t be tested this week, which is their preferred situation and why they only join conferences during pandemics (and only conferences located on the Atlantic Coast that aren’t also Southeastern by nature). This game isn’t going to be entertaining, but who knows, it may be close.
Notre Dame 41 – Louisville 24
Teams: Duke (1-4, 1-4) at North Carolina State (3-1, 3-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN3)
Line: North Carolina State -4.5
Cheer For: Duke
These two teams are playing for Paul Bunyan’s Dip Can. It is the most prestigious trophy among the Tobacco Road schools. Yes, even more prestigious than RJ Reynolds’ Top Hat, which goes to the winner of the rivalry between Wake Forest and UNC. The least prestigious Tobacco Road trophy is the Kool Kup, which goes to the winner of North Carolina State and Wake Forest. That trophy, however, has been lost to history because neither school wants it and nobody cares enough about the rivalry to keep up with it.
North Carolina State 30 – Duke 24
Teams: Ole Miss (1-2, 1-2) at Arkansas (1-2, 1-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (SECN)
Line: Ole Miss -1.5
Cheer For: Arkansas
This game is like a county fair. It’s not high-quality, but it makes for good people watching, and at any point you might see something you’ve never seen before in your life. The over/under in this game is 76.5 points, which means Vegas isn’t expecting much defense. The game may not mean anything, but it could be one helluva fun opening act for Georgia-Bama.
Ole Miss 42 – Arkansas 38
Teams: #11 Texas A&M (2-1, 2-1) at Mississippi State (1-2, 1-2)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (ESPN)
Line: Texas A&M -5
Cheer For: Mississippi State
Mike Leach’s greatest mistake was beating a bad LSU team when people thought LSU was good. They now know that LSU is bad, but the shine from that performance is impossible to shake and now every game after that will be compared to what the Bulldogs did against the Tigers. Unfortunately since then, they have played programs like Arkansas and Kentucky with actual defenses and actual head coaches. The Mississippi State offense has gone five-straight quarters without scoring, and since we know that’s not because of SEC defenses, it must be because Leach’s offense is still undergoing growing pains. That’s understandable, and we shouldn’t get hung up on the performance against LSU because that LSU defense is like temporary HGH for offenses.
Texas A&M 34 – Mississippi State 13
Teams: #5 North Carolina (3-0, 3-0) at Florida State (1-3, 0-3)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ABC)
Line: North Carolina -13.5
Cheer For: Florida State
It seems strange that North Carolina is only favored by 13.5 points, but the Tar Heels’ defense has not been great of late. After hanging on against Boston College a couple of weeks ago, they gave up 31 points in the second half of last week’s 56-45 shootout win over Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, Florida State scored 17 points in the first quarter of last week’s 42-26 loss at Notre Dame. They can’t be faulted for not knowing how to handle success because they’ve never experienced it before. And none of them signed with Florida State with the thought of success on their minds. But does that mean they can’t win this week? Yes. Yes it does.
North Carolina 41 – Florida State 21
Teams: #3 Georgia (3-0, 3-0) at #2 Alabama (3-0, 3-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (CBS)
Line: Alabama -5
Cheer For: Georgia
You are cheering for Georgia because a loss to Alabama is just as good as a win, so at least with a Georgia win somebody will actually lose. This will be Alabama’s first game this season against a team that thinks defense is a thing that should be played. The Bulldog defense is allowing just 1.5 yards per carry and has given up just three total touchdowns on the season. While I think Alabama’s offense is pretty darn good, I know we haven’t seen how good it actually is because they haven’t yet been tested. This will be a test. I’m also interested to see if Georgia can do anything offensively against a questionable Bama defense. We know this is not your father’s Alabama defense. Actually, it may be your father’s Alabama defense because 20 years ago Alabama’s defense wasn’t all that great. On a side note, Nick Saban tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the week and USA Today’s Christine Brennan took great joy in it. Unfortunately for her and fortunately for the elderly Saban, it looks like that was a false positive and Saban may still be on the sideline on Saturday. He’ll watch a Georgia offense that won’t do much, but still hits some big plays. It will be up to the Tide offense to hit more.
Alabama 31 – Georgia 27
Teams: Boston College (3-1, 2-1) at #23 Virginia Tech (2-1, 2-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ACCN)
Line: Virginia Tech -13
Cheer For: Boston College
Boston College is 2-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season and in the one loss to UNC they had their 2-point conversion pass returned for a 2-point conversion for the Tar Heels in a 26-22 loss. To put this another way, Boston College and Jeff Hafley don’t do blowouts, so seeing them as 13-point underdogs sure seems like an easy bet for the Eagles. North Carolina rushed for 399 yards against VT last weekend, which bodes well for a BC team that can’t run the ball at all. Maybe they will be able to do so this week, along with the growingly prolific passing of quarterback Phill Jurkovec, who has thrown for 300 yards in three of four games this season. In his last two games, he’s thrown for 671 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He’ll need to run the ball better than he has so far this season and he has the ability. The Hokies are giving up 37 points per game so far and have only played NC State, Duke, and UNC. If Hafley wins this one, he’ll be head coach at Michigan by morning.
Virginia Tech 34 – Boston College 33 (OT)