With eyes on College Park and the biggest game of the season, here’s our Five for Friday…
1. Don’t expect a ton from the Clemson offense on Saturday. Conventional wisdom says a ticked-off Chad Morris and a ticked-off Tajh Boyd will lead to a truckload of points and yards from the Tiger offense on Saturday. But I disagree with that assessment.
I think there are some fundamental issues with the offense right now that aren’t easily fixed. There is no tangible sign of a running game, and it’s unclear whether the problems are because Clemson can’t run the ball or won’t run the ball.
Boyd has clear trust issues with his receivers, even the ones who have been in the program for multiple seasons (here’s to you, Adam Humphries). It’s amazing what Nuk Hopkins can do to the perceptions of a passing game. In addition, the offensive line hasn’t performed up to its potential all season long, and Morris admitted to having a poor outing calling plays against Florida State.
I’d expect more points to be scored and more yards to be gained this week than last, but I’m not looking for the Kurt Warner Rams—or even the 2012 Clemson offense—to show up in College Park.
2. Maryland’s program has been as unfortunate as any I’ve ever seen. I’ve been outspoken in my defense of Brad Brownell on the grounds that he has been unlucky at every turn. Guys have hurt themselves in freakish, rare ways, and the team has suffered for it.
Randy Edsall is going through the same thing at Maryland, but to a far worse degree. Imagine playing a game against any other college football team without your best quarterback, running back, wide receivers, tight end, linebacker, and defensive back. Now imagine that opponent is a top ten team coming off an embarrassing loss looking for redemption.
3. There are some lines out there this week that seem especially too good to be true. You can always find sucker bets close to kickoff, but this week seems chock full of gimmes for some reason.
North Carolina is favored by seven points over Boston College—seriously, that’s not a joke. I don’t care where the game is being played. BC is significantly better than the Tar Heels on offense, defense, and special teams.
Oklahoma is a seven-point favorite over Texas Tech. Oh, you mean the Texas Tech team who hasn’t played a competent opponent yet this season and has to play in Norman? Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
There are others that qualify as well—Clemson -16.5 against Maryland Lite, Ohio State -15 against Penn State Lite, unbeaten Fresno State -7.5 at awful San Diego State. Of course, this all means there will be unexpected carnage across the country. It always happens that way.
4. This could be the best week yet for Fox Sports 1. Okay, so it didn’t exactly prove a threat to ESPN at its launch as was promised. But the presence of compelling live sporting events should help close the gap slowly.
The end of the Marshall-Middle Tennessee game last night was riveting. It was must-see TV. I know most people probably didn’t know it was on, but I did. I didn’t watch the whole game, but I flipped over to it after the baseball game was over and was glued to it until the Blue Raiders squeaked out a win on the final play of the game.
The good news for FS1 is that I stayed on that channel for the highlight show that comes on afterwards, which is one of several reasons people “watch” ESPN programming without even consciously doing so. That’s a more complex issue, so I’ll save it for another day.
FS1 has a fine slate of games on Saturday, including compelling matchups like West Virginia-Kansas State and Texas-TCU. The ratings should trend upward on days like that, when people will likely find those games just as interesting as any in their respective time slots.
5. Baseball players, we know you use illegal substances, so don’t feel the need to lie about it. Seriously, Jon Lester, what are you thinking? We all saw the green goop that was in your glove. Don’t try to convince us it was rosin, and don’t try to tell us you sweat so much that you need to keep a special gooey substance on the tip of your glove.
I think most baseball people understand that cheating exists. Some may accept it, some may want to get rid of it, but it’s pretty much understood that it’s out there. I don’t really see the need to tell obvious lies about it.