Archives for posts with tag: Texas State Fair

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM-

Finally.  After the non-conference and FCS schedule-stuffer season (also known as the apple picking & antiquing window), we’ve got a Saturday filled with showdowns.  A few are traditional matchups that have seen better days (Notre Dame-USC and Clemson-Florida State) while others carry conference and College Football Playoff implications (Penn State-Iowa, LSU-Florida).  Oklahoma-Texas checks off both boxes, while adding in the Texas State Fair for those who feared our nation’s deep-frying industry was in trouble. For example, this year’s fare includes a “Southern Fried Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Ball” and for those who are health-conscious, the “Texas Cream Corn Casserole Fritters”.

Lost in the shuffle of rivalries, conference clashes and questionable calorie counts is a top five FCS matchup just down the road (actually two, if you take I-66 and then turn right at I-81).  Second ranked James Madison (5-1, 2-0 CAA) hosts No. 5 Villanova (5-0, 3-0) with the inside track to the conference title and a first-round bye in the upcoming FCS Playoffs up for grabs. The two teams rank 1-2 in the CAA in scoring, stopping the run, sacks and third down efficiency.  Each has been pushed to overtime on the road: JMU escaped Stony Brook last weekend while ‘Nova’s 52-45 September shootout at Towson moved the Wildcats from pretender to contender.

The program’s resurgence is especially sweet for third-year head coach Mark Ferrante;  the longtime offensive coordinator took over when Andy Talley retired after 32 seasons in 2016 and the team posted consecutive losing campaigns for the first time since the 1990’s.  But his Wildcats have yet to face the triple-back attack like the Dukes’ Percy Agyei-Obese, Solomon Vanhorse and Jawon Hamilton: the power trio combine for 1051 yards per game on 5.4 a carry.  The Dukes’ big challenge will be getting to Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith (17 touchdown passes) as the Wildcats have allowed just three sacks all season.  Kickoff in Harrisonburg is slated for 1:30 p.m., or if you’re at the Texas State Fair around the time you’ve moved on to dessert and are trying the “Deep Fried Bayou Fruit Bites”.

 

Alma Mater Update- the Orange drop to 3-3 with Thursday’s 16-10 loss at NC State.  Tommy DeVito got sacked eight times and averaging just over ten yards per completion.  The stat book says he threw for 300 yards, but his numbers once again feel like empty calories.  Twelve penalties didn’t help.  And now the remaining schedule is a combined 21-11, with formerly a mess Florida State looking sharp and surprising Wake Forest no longer the pushover we expected.  Can they scrape together wins against Pitt, Boston College and Louisville?

 

Friday’s Game-

No. 20 Virginia (4-1, 2-0 ACC) at Miami (2-3, 0-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN).

There was never a Hurricane warning this fall as the U got off to an 0-2 start, followed by wins over Bethune-Cookman and Central Michigan before last week’s disaster against Virginia Tech.  While the ‘Canes lead the ACC in passing yardage (315 per game), the Cavaliers boast the second best pass defense in the conference and are second best at getting to the quarterback (27 sacks in five games);  Miami has allowed a league-high 25 sacks this fall.  Head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s team has had a week to digest their loss at Notre Dame and refocus, while Manny Diaz’s eyes likely fell out while watching the game film of last Saturday’s loss to Virginia Tech.

Kippy and Buffy have their eyes on great tailgating as always, and South Florida means they’ll be serving Cuban pork sandwiches.  Nothing goes better with the pork than a bottle of 2016 Limerick Lane Russian River Zinfandel.  Aromas of “blackberry, raspberry, bramble, cocoa leaf and wet stones” (yes–an actual tasting note from the vineyard website) get the palate ready for the taste of “strawberry, black pepper and blueberry pie crust” (again, one cannot make this up), delivering a “long finish with laser-focused acidity”.

Presto’s Pick:  Cavaliers are laser-focused on a first-ever Coastal Division title, and come away with a 27-16 win.

 

Saturday’s Games-

Maryland (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at Purdue (1-4, 0-2), noon (Big Ten Network).

There’s a switch at quarterback-sort of. Josh Jackson was listed as the starter in the press notes, but head coach Mike Locksley said that Jackson’s ankle injury suffered at Rutgers has the junior day-to-day and Tyrrell Pigrome would start against the Boilermakers.  Pigrome may not have the passing polish Jackson possesses, but he’s a much better runner and with an offensive line that’s banged up might be just the right fit for the present.  Purdue has long been called the “Cradle of Quarterbacks” thanks to All-Americans like Bob Griese, Mike Phipps and Mark Hermann; Drew Brees was shut out by the likes of Chris Weinke, Josh Heupel and George Godsey(?).  This year’s team was no different, until quarterback Elijah Sindelar and his top target Rondale Moore were injured on the same play against Minnesota.  Neither saw the field last Saturday against Penn State.  Defensively, Purdue ranks 13th or 14th in the Big Ten in every category (except in sacks where they’re currently ninth).

Uniform note:  the Boilermakers will be wearing special uniforms commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.  Not only is the late Neil Armstrong an alumnus, but the late Gene Cernan (the Apollo 17 astronaut who was the last person to leave the lunar surface) was as well.

Presto’s Pick:  the Terrapins make another small step towards bowl eligibility with a 38-14 landing.

 

Virginia Tech (3-2) vs. Rhode Island (1-4), 4 p.m. (ACC Network).

There are complaints from many in the area who don’t have the ACC Network on their local cable system, but for the Hokies this fall that might be a good thing.  Even in their wins, this team has been one tough watch.  Only this year’s team could turn a 28-0 second half lead at Miami into a fourth quarter nailbiter.  Enter a Rams team that may be 0-3 in the CAA, but one that has lost three one-possession games.  One week after coughing up 28 second half points to Miami, the Hokies will have their hands full as URI quarterback Vito Priore completes 65% of his passes.  Priore’s top two targets, Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Coulter, each average over 100 yards per game receiving and are just the kind of tandem that turns suspect secondaries into sludge.  After a September saw a torrential downpour of turnovers, the Hokies dried things up last week with redshirt sophomore quarterback Hendon Hooker.  The dual-threat (184 yards and three touchdowns passing plus 76 yards and a touchdowns rushing against Miami) didn’t throw an interception or lose a fumble, and no giveaways means Hooker stays first-string.  He’ll face a rather accomodating Ram defense, one that allowed 41 points in their other game against an FBS school.

Presto’s Pick: Hokies make it two straight, 34-24.

 

Navy (3-1, 1-1 AAC) at Tulsa (2-3, 0-1), 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU).

Last Saturday’s win over Air Force was exactly the kind of game last year’s Midshipmen would lose.  The other nightmare from 2018 involved an 0-6 road record (0-8 in games not played in Annapolis).  For those curious, Navy’s last road win was September 30, 2017 against…Tulsa.  The Golden Hurricane went 2-10 that year and have already equaled that win total in the first month of this season.  But they still can’t stop the run (11th in the AAC) and if there’s one thing that the Mids do well it’s move the ball on the ground (an FBS-best 312 yards per game).  But they also lead the conference in offensive passing efficiency as well as rushing and total defense.  Head coach Ken Niumatalolo’s team is also the least-penalized unit in the league; as fate would have it the most-flagged Golden Hurricanes commit twice as many infractions per game.

Presto’s Pick: Midshipmen make it happen on the road, 28-20. 

Howard loses to Norfolk State, Georgetown gets by Fordham, James Madison beats Villanova, Richmond edges Maine, Towson tops Albany, Morgan State loses to Delaware State.

 

Last Week: 7-3. Overall: 39-14.

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

The Texas State Fair is…like everything else in the Lone Star State, completely and ridiculously overblown.  And that’s what gives the fair its unquestionable charm. Its proper name is “The State Fair of Texas” for those sticklers and usually begins the last Friday in September while lasting for 24 days.  The food…well, lets just say you don’t often run into “Deep-fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick” on many menus.  Since 1929 the centerpiece of the event has been the Texas-Oklahoma football game…which has evolved from an inter-conference showdown (a moment of silence for the Southwest and Big Eight Conferences, please?) to a Big 12 battle for what recently has been 3rd or 4th place in the conference.  Twelve times this century the two schools have been ranked…with four of those years featuring the Sooners and Longhorns each in the top five.  That will not be the case this October…as both teams are 2-2 after giving up a mountain of points (35ppg by OU and 41ppg by UT).  Both have coaches on respective hot seats…and fan bases with selective memories about glory days gone by.  You might be best served by skipping the game entirely and enjoying the “Deep Fried Pulled Pork Funyuns Dings”.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange try to recover from coughing up 50 points to Notre Dame.  With seven games remaining, the hopes are still out there for a Pinstripe Bowl Berth but SU’s remaining opponents are a combined 25-10.  This week they visit surprising Wake Forest (4-1…already with more wins than the Demon Deacons had all last year).  They were held to 7 points in the season opener by Tulane…and could be a sight for the sore eyes of a defense that has been gashed early and often this fall.  Just stay relevant until basketball season gets underway…

 

Maryland (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at Penn State (3-2, 1-1), noon, Big Ten Network.  Let me start by saying this is NOT A RIVALRY.  The Nittany Lions do not have rivals.  It even said so on last year’s media guide cover: “UNRIVALED”.  The school repeated said mantra when facing non-conference but in-state foes Pitt and Temple earlier this year…and printed “UNRIVALED” atop this week’s preview materials.  Never mind that these two schools reside in states bordering one another…and compete over many of the same recruits  Never mind that these two teams have traded a pair of one-point victories in the other schools backyards the last two years.  Never mind that the former coach-in-waiting in College Park is the guy running the show in State College.  What is certain is that Penn State has issues stopping the run (12th in the Big Ten) while the Terps lead the conference in yards per carry (a robust 6.5 per attempt).  Offensively the Nittany Lions are the worst team in the league at converting third downs…and will have issues containing a pass rush that averages 3.5 sacks per game.  Terrapins triumph, 28-17.

Navy (3-1, 2-0 AAC) vs #6 Houston (5-0, 2-0), 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network.  The Midshipmen have to bounce back not only from a tough loss at Air Force, but also a tough loss to their defense as linebacker Daniel Gonzales (co-captain and second-leading tackler) is done for the season with a foot injury.  Very bad news when preparing to face a Cougars offense led by Greg Ward Jr. (71% completion rate, 331 passing yards per game and 8 TD tosses this fall).  Even with senior quarterback Will Worth playing well, Navy lives and dies by its running game and the Cougar D is the stingiest in the AAC on third down (allowing conversions 26% of the time) and leads the AAC in fewest yards per carry allowed (1.6).  Midshipmen come up short, 36-14.

#25 Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC) at #17 North Carolina (4-1, 2-0), 3:30 p.m.  HOW is this not on even one of the ESPN’s?  Instead ESPNU gives us Iowa State-Oklahoma State, two teams that have combined for six losses this fall.  The former bully of the Coastal Division block (five division titles from 2005-11) meets the reigning division champ.  UNC is coming off one heck of a win over Florida State while the Hokies had last weekend off.  The Tar Heels are led by QB Mitch Trubisky (76% completion rate, 13 TD’s and no interceptions) but boast a defense that’s been extremely accommodating this fall (allowing 32 points per game).  Can coach Justin Fuente’s consistently uneven ground game click against the worst run defense in the ACC?  Hokies hang on, 33-30.

Virginia (2-3, 1-0 ACC) has the week off…meaning Kippy & Buffy turn their attention from rooting madly (with dignity) for their Cavaliers to boarding up the cottage in the Outer Banks.  This weekend’s weather system forced their hand, as they had to burn a personal day during the week.  What won’t change is the sparkling wine and caviar that accompanies the annual boarding-up…that would be sacrilege.  This year Kippy & Buffy toast another great summer by enjoying a bottle of Veritas Vineyard & Winery Scintilla:  “Characteristically the wine is made in a Brut style (less than 12g/L). Fresh bubbles of Meyer lemon fill the palate with a delicate mousse that fades into a lasting finish.”  Cheers…

Howard falls to Monmouth, Georgetown beats Princeton, James Madison beats William & Mary, Richmond falls at Albany, Towson slips to Stony Brook, Morgan State beats Savannah State.

Last Week: 7-2.

Overall 37-7.