It has been well documented in this space over the last few years that insomnia provides a great base of material with which to work. After a solid four hours of sleep per night, there is time for flipping through every news network of every slant, followed by several incarnations of the sports highlights that you have already seen 3-4 times. Then there is some interesting old television programming that can bring you back to your younger years, or at least kill a valuable hour. It certainly made me think about our own TV lineup for this weekend, Week Three of the college football season:
Florida State (2-0) @ Louisville (2-0); 12noon EDT, ABC
Pick your old school medical show. Marcus Welby. Chicago Hope. Heck, maybe even Doogie Howser. The Florida State campus was hit with an outbreak of HFMD this week. Yes, the disease common among infants and toddlers, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, hit the school causing a quarantine of several frat houses and almost all events on campus to be cancelled. Fortunately, the football team was quarantined in spacious, athletes-only dorms as it prepares to travel to Louisville this weekend.
Now the ‘Noles have to prepare for an outbreak of Lamar Jackson. The Louisville quarterback has put up video game numbers in two games against outclassed opponents, (1,015 yards of total offense with 13 touchdowns while playing just six quarters). Florida State’s offensive weapons consisting of quarterback Deondre Francois and running back Dalvin Cook will get the pre-game notice. But if there is a difference-maker for the Seminoles, it is most likely to be defensive end DeMarcus Walker who had four-and-a-half sacks in the second half alone in the season opener against Ole Miss.
Alabama (2-0) @ Ole Miss (1-1); 3:30pm EDT, CBS
Our All in the Family special. Bama head coach Nick Saban with that curmudgeonly old character who is set in his ways and does not like change. If you watch the sideline rant from last weekend on video, I am certain he was calling offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin a more colorful version of “meathead.” Saban will likely go with freshman Jalen Hurts at quarterback. The Tide offense has sputtered at times, but they will be relying on their defense this weekend; a defense that dominated a good USC offensive line in week one, going against an Ole Miss offensive line that crumbled late in the game against Florida State two weeks ago. The Rebels will need to establish a running game to take some of the all-or-nothing pressure off quarterback Chad Kelly, who had three interceptions and a fumble in the second half in the season opener.
Mississippi State (1-1) @ LSU (1-1); 7pmEDT, ESPN 2
LSU coach Les Miles starring as Andy Griffith. He is genuine and affable, but the guy cannot get a deputy/quarterback who can shoot straight. Now, I am not saying Brandon Harris or Danny Eitling are Don Knotts, but yeah, I kind of am. Harris has been erratic at best for three years now. He was replaced at the start of the second quarter last week by Eitling who started well enough with a 46-yard touchdown pass but was 0-6 with one interception in the second half against Jacksonville State. The only thing Harris has been quick triggered about lately was his Twitter account when he sent a message indicating he wanted out of Baton Rouge, only to lock his account shortly thereafter. Leonard Fournette will return at running back for the Tigers after taking last week off with an ankle injury. MSU has its share of problems on offense, but the defense has been amazingly solid the first two games. That buys new quarterback Nick Fitzgerald some time to grow, coming off a 19-29 passing performance against South Carolina last week.
Michigan State (1-0) @ Notre Dame (1-1); 7:30pm EDT, NBC
Notre Dame has no wiggle room left if it wants to stay in the playoff conversation. Quarterback DeShone Kizer helped produce 444 yards of total offense last week in a win over Nevada that helped heal the wounds of the previous week’s overtime loss at Texas. The Irish have the skill players to put up points, and I have been waiting for the reason to type wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, (because who wouldn’t love a name like that), who had 75 yards receiving and two touchdowns against Texas. Michigan State wants to turn this into the Ponderosa though and take a page out of Bonanza. The Spartans want a gritty, rugged, rough-hewn, strap on your work shoes, roll up your shirt sleeves kind of game. Quarterback Tyler O’Connor was suitable in week one’s unimpressive win over Furman, but Michigan State would rather be relying on the three-headed running back group led by L.J. Scott, running behind the big offensive line. The more low scoring the game, the better for the Spartans.
Ohio State (2-0) @ Oklahoma (1-1); 7:30pm EDT, Fox
Both teams have big time weapons. Both teams need to do a better job of getting their ground game going. Both teams have quarterbacks who can put up big numbers. Both teams have coaches with steely glares that can pierce through their players with a silent sternness. The Buckeyes have averaged 63 points and 597 yards per game for the first two weeks, but it was against Bowling Green and Tulsa. They have a new featured running back in Mike Weber who has 228 yards so far and H-back Curtis Samuel who has 400 all-purpose yards. The Sooners have one of the best running back tandems in in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, but the duo has only 286 yards total thus far. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has represented well with 567 yards passing and five touchdowns. Remember Chuck Connor as The Rifleman? Nice and calm and then BANG! Ammunition flying everywhere. That is this game. Which steely coach is going to get the most pop out of their key weapons?
USC (1-1) @ Stanford (1-0); 8pm EDT, ABC
This one is being played on The Farm, so I am going with the obvious Green Acres. I am not sure who is the Eddie Albert character and who is the Eva Gabor character, but come on, I have taken you this far. You can use your imagination from here. USC rebounded nicely from the season-opening lambasting to Alabama with a lopsided win at home against Utah State, but the Trojans are still seeking an identity. New starting quarterback Max Browne has been acceptable, but star wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster has only eight catches for 65 yards in two games and has been visibly frustrated. The offensive line, which was to be a strength of the team got overrun by Bama in week one and then lost center Toa Lobendahn for the season with a knee injury. The Trojans would do well to fire up their ground game and clock eating-offense quickly. Stanford’s identity is easy. It goes by the name Christian McCaffrey, the guy who merely had 461 yards against USC in the conference title game last year. The more Stanford gets McCaffrey involved, the harder it will be for the Trojans to keep pace. In case you think that doesn’t give coaches pause for thought, a reporter saw it as an opportunity to ask USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast what he would be doing for a career if he were not a football coach. Pendergast said he would be a farmer or maybe a dairy farmer, specifically. There you have it, Green Acres. I have done my job.