While we’re still waiting for Maryland’s new schedule for 2020 and a third date for the Commonwealth Cup, the Navy appears to be recovering from a Labor Day loss.
The Big Ten is back! For the moment. But not for another month at least.
College football’s most legendary conference (although its lore calls for a name that doesn’t accurately reflect membership) does the reverse of last month’s decision not to play fall sports by setting a sprint that starts October 23-24 and ends with a championship week / weekend involving all 14 schools in crossover games.
While we’re still waiting for Maryland’s new schedule for 2020 (the third the Terps will have this year), who isn’t stunned by waiting for the early Christmas present that is Purdue-Rutgers?
College football is not a nation per se, it is a confederation of conferences that compete on and off the pitch – and when acceptable, remove the bones of the weak or unsuspecting (witness ACC Syracuse and Pitt poaching from ACC before to lose Maryland to the Big Ten). Between the Power Five Conferences, there is an arms race for athletes at the start and College Football Playoff moorings upon arrival. The Big Ten may be winners of history and the Heisman Trophy, but the league that slipped behind the SEC couldn’t afford to lag behind the Big 12 (each league had four teams that entered the playoffs in its six years) or dare I say ACC (which still stands for Always Conquered by Clemson). Now they are back in the conversation and although they are starting a month after the SEC, they will play their nine games, including the championship – pandemic permitting.
Thus, the league that jumped ahead to take a stand on player safety in the midst of a pandemic joins the rest of the college football world by doing what it does best: putting on a show. And part of the show makes it feel less like a financial move.
“College football plays a significant role in a college setting,” said Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans. “It’s not the most important thing, but it’s something that people can rally on … and give us a point of pride as we go along.”
It is not lost on the fact that the athletic department train is powered by the two engines which are the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and college football. The loss of March Madness in 2020 has forced more departments to not only tighten the straps, but puncture them. The prospect of losing even a football season would be disastrous for the intercollegiate house of cards as we know it.
So instead of caution and 100% safety, the Big Ten is moving forward with the goal of keeping players as safe as possible while playing a contact sport in the midst of a pandemic.
“Our goal is to play and do the things we can do, the rules today, and today we have some good news,” said Terps head football coach Mike Locksley. “I can tell you that every member of our team is excited about these opportunities but also very grateful and grateful.”
For Maryland, it’s an opportunity to see how far the Terps have improved in year two of Locksley’s tenure. But it also happens just two years after the death of a player who rocked the program, the department and the university.
“Obviously Jordan McNair’s tragic death is something we will never forget around here,” Evans said. “Student-athlete health, safety and well-being are at the forefront.”
So they will play but be extremely careful while doing this. And WTOP will publish the program as soon as we have it.
Commonwealth Cup compromised – The game between Virginia and Virginia Tech originally scheduled for November 28 and then moved to September 19 has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Blacksburg campus; the match is now scheduled for Saturday 12 December. The 1998 Bordeaux bottle (commemorating the Cavaliers’ last win at the Lane Stadium) will then be unveiled. Kippy & Buffy will instead enjoy their farewell week by going to the apple harvest, followed by a glass or two of Horton Vineyards 2018 Viognier: “Exotic honey and tropical fruit aromas jump from the glass. Full-bodied and viscous sensation in the mouth. “There will be smoked Gouda on Captain’s Wafer. In the end, there will be a taste for a football season, unless the September 26 game against Duke is postponed.
Navy (0-1) vs Tulane (1-0), noon (ABC)
The Ensigns are grieving the loss of Labor Day to BYU, and head coach Kenifestatalolo has revamped their training regimen with more contact. He also reopened the quarterback position, with senior Dalen Norris (16 yards passing and 2 yards running against BYU) facing a challenge from Xavier Arline now that Perry Olsen has entered the transfer portal. Just as Midshipmen exceeded expectations with a senior quarterback at the helm (Will Worth in 2016), they underperformed when they didn’t find the right starter (QB carousel of 2018). Meanwhile, for the first time in the program’s history, the Green Waves are coming out of consecutive moorings; this year they added freshman running back Tyjae Spears (105 yards in the opening win of the season against South Alabama). The last four games in this series have been decided by a touchdown or not, with Mids winning by three points last year in Annapolis.
Presto’s Pick: Aspiring ensigns sink, 34-20.
No. 7 Notre Dame (1-0) vs USF (1-0), 14:30 (US Network)
The Fighting Irish are being pushed out of their usual perch on the Peacock Network due to the US Open golf tournament, so they will now be stuck between five hours of “Chicago PD” and a “modified for television” version of “Death Wish”. “To be sure, it took a while to get ready for prime time in the season’s opening win against Duke. The Bulls started strong in their win over the Citadel, but defending an FCS option offense is a bit ‘different from trying to contain senior quarterback Ian Book and second runner Kyren Williams.
Presto’s Pick: Irish Eyes are Smiling, 45-16 years old.
No. 14 UCF at Georgia Tech (1-0), 3:30 pm (ABC)
Show A Why The World Will Welcome The SEC Next Week And The Big Ten In A Month With Open Arms: This is a game that has noon on ESPN2 written all over the place. The Yellow Jackets are the result of an upset victory in the state of Florida that says more about the Seminoles in year one of their rebuilding than about technology in their year two. Freshman quarterback Jeff Sims played well in his early career start; Coach Geoff Collins hopes he can double the season Knights QB Dillon Gabriel released as a freshman in 2019 (3,653 yards and 29 passing touchdowns). Sixteen starters returned from a side that went 10-3 last year, losing their three games for a total of seven points. When is Death Wish on?
Presto’s Pick: Knights conquer, 35-17.
No.17 Miami (1-0) to No.18 Louisville (1-0), 7:30 pm (ABC)
For years, I have enjoyed writing what has become my annual column “Downgraded Hurricane Warning to Tropical Depression”, as the school located in a recruiting goldmine in the softer ACC division continues to squander its fortune ( a single Coastal title) and spits out the coaches with paralyzing regularity (they’ve had five since entering the league). I thought I should do this when they started slow against UAB in their opening. The Cardinals suffered a crater recently (2-10 in 2018) before finishing second in the Atlantic Division behind Clemson last year. They also recall a 25-point defeat at Hard Rock Stadium and revenge is on the mind of Scott Satterfield’s team.
Presto’s Pick: The cardinals pass, 24-20.
Last week: 3-1. Overall: 6-2.