College football has gone wacky. Why else would Northern Illinois have played at Toledo on Tuesday night and Ohio University have traveled to Bowling Green on Wednesday night? College football on a Tuesday night the first week in November? College football on a Wednesday night? I’m kidding, right? Sadly, no.
College football has morphed from a Saturday afternoon ritual into an entertainment empire similar to Broadway theater. Six games were scheduled for Thursday night and three for Friday night. And that’s just major-college football. Most of the weeknight games involve teams from lesser conferences like the MAC. That said, on Thursday night No. 6 Baylor edged Kansas State Thursday night by a touchdown and No. 20 Mississippi State defeated Missouri. No. 22 Temple beat SMU, 60-40, on Friday night.
Remember when Friday night was the province of high school football? No longer.
The reason for this insanity is television, specifically ESPN, the Bristol, Conn., entertainment and sports programming behemoth. At first we had ESPN. Now we have ESPN 2, ESPN 3 and ESPN U. ESPN needs games to fill all that air time, and there are only so many hours on a Saturday.
ESPN has created bowl games for the same reason. Programming. College conferences buy into this for two reasons. Money and exposure. As a result, we have Tuesday Night Lights. But today is Saturday, and, fortunately, for many of us still college football game day.
BROWN AT YALE
If the 4-3 Bears turn the ball over five times, as they have averaged in each of their three losses, they lose again. But if they hang on to the ball, they win. It’s that simple. Yale, 4-3, lost to Columbia last week – Columbia! – without scoring a touchdown on offense.
The Pick: Brown
VILLANOVA AT URI
They are not the powerhouse of previous seasons, even though they were the CAA preseason favorite, but Andy Talley’s 4-4 Wildcats are good enough to handle the 1-7 Rams. They have won 17 of their 20 games against URI, five of the last six and the last three in a row. Rhody’s last win was by three points in 2010. True freshman Wesley McCoy will make his second start at QB for the Rams. Paul Mroz, the starter for six games, is out for the rest of the season with an injury, and backup James Caparell got one start before McCoy made his debut start last week at New Hampshire. He did not turn the ball over in a 20-17 loss. Villanova has 23 sacks and eight interceptions, though.
The Pick: Villanova
BRYANT AT WAGNER
The Bulldogs expected to be better than 4-4 at this point, but they can still finish with a respectable record and a share of the NEC title if they win their last three games. They should roll at Wagner, which is 0-8, although two of those losses were to Rice and BYU.
The Pick: Bryant
MAINE MARITIME AT SALVE REGINA
Salve Regina’s challenge in its final home game of the season is to avoid looking ahead to the NEFC showdown next week at Western New England. The 6-1 Seahawks boast the best record of Rhode Island’s four college teams.
The Pick: Salve Regina
LSU AT ALABAMA
LSU, 7-0, is No. 2 and Alabama, 7-1, No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff Rankings that will determine matchups for the national championship in January. This is the game of the day on the national level, and a must-win for ‘Bama.
The Pick: Alabama
Last Week, 5-0. Season, 27-8