Archives for posts with tag: Hoosiers


Some say timing is everything, and if it isn’t it certainly remains a pretty big factor.  College Football’s Power Five slate kicks off at 12 p.m. Saturdays with more chaff than wheat while its prime matchups are usually offered up to ABC, CBS, and ESPN in the coveted 3:30 p.m. window.  The late games kick off from 6 to 7:30 p.m., with a prime time showdown and the customary Pac-12 After Dark duel wrapping up the day’s action.  It should be easy to have everybody play at a reasonable time.

Except with dreaded noon eastern games in the Central Time Zone.  This Saturday there are four games involving ranked teams that begin at 11 a.m. local time:  Oklahoma-West Virginia, Wisconsin-Illinois, Auburn-Arkansas and Purdue-Iowa.  Earlier this fall to fit into the ACC Network’s grid, Pitt played Ohio at 11 a.m. EDT.

Last month Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban complained about a 12 p.m. EDT game against Southern Miss, which would kick off at 11 a.m. local time.  Saban was pounced on by some as being elitist, but I completely understand his thinking.  In a sport where empty seats are a pox and the final days of summer can be toasty, late-morning is the last time you want to gather 75,000 people outside in the sun.  On weekends the last thing many want to do is have to be anywhere by 11 a.m.; even though noon is just an hour later it feels a world away from late-morning.  College students waking up and getting anywhere on a Saturday morning by 11?  Right.  And even though college athletics is not always about the actual student athletes, a player’s body-clock can’t benefit from the morning start.

Leagues blame TV; one wants to show as many games to as many people as possible.  But if the SEC and Big Ten have their own networks, can’t they move the 11 a.m. Central games to noon/aka 1 p.m. Eastern?  It’s not like these channels don’t have pregame and highlight shows that could fill those slots.  So your SEC mid-afternoon game kicks off at 4:30 instead of 3:30…or the seven o’clock game starts at eight.  People will still watch–because it’s football.  Unless it’s Rutgers.


Alma Mater Update- major gut-check time for the Orange, who need three wins to become bowl-eligible.  First up is 4-2 Pitt, who’s coming off of three straight wins by a combined seven points.   But at least it’s at home–even if it’s on Friday night.  The offensive line that allowed eight sacks against NC State needs to find itself, and Tommy DeVito needs to put up quality yards instead of simply a quantity of yards.  I’m not confident that will happen this year.


Maryland ( 3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) vs. Indiana (4-2, 1-2), 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network). 

Speaking of early starts, how is this game not beginning at 12?  I thought “Maryland-Indiana” was French for “noon kickoff”.  Both schools suffer from the “Rutgers Inflation Effect”.  The Terps torched the Scarlet Knights by 41 points while the Hoosiers won by 35 against RU.  They’ve each been humbled by Big Ten foes not residing the state of New Jersey, Maryland getting outscored 99-14 while IU’s been pasted 91-41.  Indiana brings the Big Ten’s second-best passing game into College Park Saturday, and the Terps passing defense allows the most yards per game in the conference.  Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (69.5% completion rate) has the necessary counter-punch in running back Stevie Scott III (5.0 yards per carry) to keep opponents honest; sadly he lacks a “IV” on the roster.  Tyrrell Pigrome starts for the second week at quarterback as Josh Jackson’s ankle still isn’t right, and running back Anthony McFarland’s high ankle sprain looks to limit the sparkplug that gained over 1,000 yards last fall further (he notched four yards at Purdue and dropped a pass in the end zone).

Presto’s Pick: Terps tumble, 35-20.


Virginia (4-2, 2-1 ACC) vs. Duke (4-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. (ACC Network).

Easter may be in springtime, but last Friday the Cavaliers laid a major egg in their 17-9 loss at Miami.  So much for the “Season of Possibilities” (thankfully not trademarked yet). Early issues that won’t go away begin and end with an offensive line that can’t generate a running game (a league-worst 102 yards per game) or protect Bryce Perkins (13 sacks in their last two games).  Duke has already won in the Commonwealth this fall, but after scorching Virginia Tech by 35 they allowed 33 points in a loss at home to Pitt.  Quentin Harris  is also averaging fewer than 10 yards per completion in four of six games this fall;  UVa’s defense leads the ACC in sacks and will need to make him uncomfortable all afternoon.

Kippy & Buffy are more than comfortable going with an old standby for Duke week:  the ultimate “bro” school demands a bottle from Breaux Vineyards.  This year it’s the ”
Equation Red”, a blend that is 73% merlot with dashes of Petit Verdot, Chamborcin, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.  With aromas of “ripe cherry, plum, and chocolate” plus the taste of “juicy fruit, baking spices such as clove and nutmeg” the lingering dusty tannins will go great with some sauteed mushrooms plus Bleu Cheese on toast against the Blue Devils.

Presto’s Pick:  the Cavaliers find the right equation and defeat Duke, 24-20.


Virginia Tech (4-2, 1-2 ACC) vs. North Carolina (3-3, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. (ACC Network).

Past is present in Chapel Hill, as Mack Brown returned to the program he led to 69 wins from 1988 to 97 (including consecutive 10-win seasons that wrapped up his tenure).  Behind freshman quarterback Sam Howell (15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions) the Tar Heels began the season with thrilling wins over South Carolina and Miami, before dropping one-possession games to Wake Forest, Appalachian State, and then-No. 1 Clemson.  While a 16-point win at 1-5 Georgia Tech doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, look at the Hokies: they led Rhode Island by seven in the fourth quarter and it was just as close in wins against Furman, Old Dominion and Miami.  Cause for confidence:  VT is 2-0 since going with turnover-free Hendon Hooker at quarterback.  What’s helped the sophomore is the presence of a running game, with Deshawn McClease emerging as the primary ground threat.

Presto’s Pick:  Hokies come up short, 26-20.


Navy (4-1, 2-1 AAC) vs. South Florida (3-3, 1-1), 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network).

The Midshipmen are coming off of their first road win in over two years, while the Bulls are .500 at midseason despite returning 15 starters.  The sizzle for the Mids is often its option offense, and quarterback Malcolm Perry is directing an attack that leads the nation in rushing.  But major strides have been made so far this year on defense:  the team leads the AAC in stopping the run as well as fewest yards and points allowed.  USF has had major issues protecting the quarterback (a league-high 24 sacks allowed) as well as moving the chains (second-worst in the conference).

Presto’s Pick: Midshipmen move one step closer to bowl eligibility with a 31-17 win.


Georgetown beats Lafayette, James Madison wins at William & Mary, Richmond gets by Yale, Towson beats Bucknell, Morgan State slips to South Carolina State.

Last Week: 5-5.  Overall: 44-19.


At Indiana University, they look down their noses at in-state rival Purdue and chant “banners”.  Five times the Hoosiers have won the National Championship…and even though they haven’t won it all in 30 years, there are still lofty expectations for everyone who suits up in the red and white (often accompanied by striped warmups).  After reaching the regional semifinals last March, hopes were high in Bloomington as coach Tom Crean’s team was ranked 11th in the preseason.  Unfortunately, IU has been consistently uneven since dropping their Big Ten opener to Nebraska-and now they’ve lost guard OG Anunoby for the season when he tore his ACL against Penn State.  Juwan Morgan missed that game due to a bad ankle…and the Hoosiers’ depth will be tested against the likes of Michigan State, Michigan and Northwestern between now and the end of the month.  Where the talk was once “what seed will they get?”, now the whispers around Bloomington is becoming “could they somehow not be getting in?”.  They play Purdue twice in February, and if things continue to proceed the way they have then Boilermaker fans will no doubt be chanting “NIT!”.  Thank goodness the IU faithful can still cling to the “banners!” refrain.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange are 3-3 one third of the way through the ACC season…with six of their remaining 12 regular season games coming against ranked opponents.  Today at noon they visit Notre Dame;  the #15 Fighting Irish are currently tied for first place in the conference.  If SU is going to somehow avoid coming to McDonough Arena for an NIT game, they’ve got to start winning some of these road games against ranked foes.  Much easier said than done.


Saturday’s games-

1:30 p.m.-

Navy (9-10, 4-3 Patriot League) at Army (8-11, 2-5), CBS Sports Network.  Somehow this matchup doesn’t have the oomph their football showdown does.  The Midshipmen have won four straight to suddenly become a factor in the conference race thanks to solid defense (2nd in the conference) and rebounding (tops in the league).  The Black Knights may be second in the Patriot League in scoring, but both of their conference wins have come when they’ve allowed feweer than 60 points.

2 p.m.-

#16 Virginia (14-3, 4-2 ACC) vs Georgia Tech (11-7, 3-3), ACC Network.  Easy nights are few and far between in a conference with six ranked teams.  That’s why the Cavaliers’ tip-to- buzzer dominance of Boston College was so huge.  What isn’t huge is the lack of production UVa is getting from big man Jack Salt:  the New Zealander has scored just 11 points TOTAL in ACC play.  The Yellowjackets boast a big man in Ben Lammers who’s averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds per game…but they’re also carrying the emotional baggage of a heartbreaking loss at Virginia Tech.  


4 p.m.-

Howard (4-14, 1-2 MEAC) at North Carolina A&T (1-17, 0-5).  If the preseason conference favorites fall again, they have no excuses.  The Aggies have lost 17 straight since beating Division III Greensboro College and average margin of defeat in league play is 12 points.  NC A&T ranks 351st in the nation in scoring (that would be last in Division I).  Coach Kevin Nickelberry’s team can’t worry about when /if James Daniel III returns to full strength.  Freshman Charles Williams is averaging 18 points per conference game this winter…they’ll need another big effort from the Richmond, Virginia product this weekend.


Sunday’s games-


George Mason (12-6, 2-3 Atlantic 10) at Richmond (11-7, 5-1).  The Spiders are in a three-way tie for first place in the league with LaSalle and Dayton after losing to the Flyers Thursday.  ShawnDre’ Jones likely won’t be held to one point on 0-for-9 shooting over 38 minutes again anytime soon.  Will Marquise Moore and company at least be able to limit the senior?  Containing the offensive arsenal that is T.J. Cline (the senior leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists) will be a tougher task.



Georgetown (10-9 , 1-5 Big East) at #22 Xavier (13-5, 3-3), CBS.  Could the season be slipping away for the Hoyas?  They play three of their next four away from DC…and their next three games are against teams in the top 25.  The Musketeers just went through that gauntlet; going 0-3 against Villanova, Creighton and Butler.  Edmond Sumner ripped the Hoyas for 28 points in their New Year’s Eve duel while Trevon Bluiett had an atypical 0-for-10 shooting day.  Will their five days off after a home loss to Providence rejuvenate coach John Thompson III’s team or will there be carryover from their flameout against the Friars?

VCU (14-5, 4-2 Atlantic 10) vs LaSalle (10-5, 5-1), NBC Sports Network.  This just in-the Rams are human.  The loss at league-leading Dayton wasn’t that much of a surprise…but the last-second defeat at sub-500 Fordham was the kind of stumble that butchers and at-large candidacy come Selection Sunday.  The Explorers come to the Commonwealth leading the A-10 in scoring with the one-two punch of guards B.J. Johnson and Jordan Price.  How well the league’s best assist-to-turnover team fares against the Rams havoc will go a long way towards determining if VCU stumbles further down the standings after its hot start.

6:30 pm-

Virginia Tech (14-4, 3-3 ACC) at Clemson (11-6, 1-5), ESPNU.  Hokies-Tigers is the natural pairing the league would air against the NFL Playoffs, right?  I’m looking forward to the old-school big man matchup of seniors Zach LeDay and Jaron Blossomgame.  While Buzz Williams’ team has been playing tag with the .500 mark in conference play, Clemson’s played well in losses to ranked foes North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia and actually led Louisville for the majority of the first half before getting blown out by the Cardinals.  Littlejohn Coliseum is not an easy place to visit…and with the season starting to slip away you can bet Brad Brownwell’s team will come out swinging.