Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 9/26/15
Virginia got blown out by Boise State on Friday evening, and that’s more bad news for beleaguered Mike London. The Virginia head coach came into the season on very shaky ground as far as his job security is concerned. Things got worse with the Cavaliers getting destroyed on national TV against the Broncos. The only question at this point would seem to be when London gets axed, with if no longer even a talking point.
I wouldn’t rule out a move being made over the weekend. This was a truly awful showing by Virginia, and the Cavaliers are now heading into their bye week leading into the start of conference play. It’s uncommon for college teams to relieve coaches of their duties while the season is in progress. But as terrible as Virginia was in this game with way more eyes than usual viewing the proceedings, one can’t help but wonder if it’s simply time to move on.
London is in his sixth year at the helm in Charlottesville. His tenure with Virginia actually got off to a promising start, as the Cavaliers managed to go bowling in 2011 and appeared to be a program on the rise. That clearly has turned out to not be the case. They’ve won only 11 games over the past three completed seasons. This year’s entry is 1-3, and the sole win was a struggle against William & Mary. Yes, the Cavaliers nearly shocked Notre Dame. But that game really looks like an outlier based on the other three results to date, and last night’s mauling was beyond bad.
As it stands right now, Virginia is staring at another lost season, and it’s not inconceivable that they could end up with just the one win against the FCS opponent. The Cavaliers will likely be favored in just one remaining game, as Syracuse visits Charlottesville in mid-October. Any other Virginia wins would qualify as upsets and it certainly would not be a shock if the Orange got the best of the Cavaliers as well.
It might be argued that going the interim route is undesirable and that just riding things out with London running the show is better. I’m not so sure. This program has now arrived at the point where virtually everyone, present coaches and players included, probably know the score. When that’s the case, my take is to simply move on and not pretend it’s business as usual. Give the interim reigns to Steve Fairchild or one of the other assistants, get the search committee busy and start the process of rebuilding. Reality is a bitch, but it’s reality.
My only Friday play was the Indians and they enjoyed an easy win over a Royals team that gave seven regulars the night off. College football is 1-0 for the week with Cincinnati covering on Thursday. I’m on nine college sides today, with the last addition the game I’ll use here as the Saturday free play.
For info on how to get all my plays, email me directly at email@example.com. Just a heads up that I’m going to run one of my guaranteed specials for the month of October, so stay tuned for more details on that offer.
The decision to bet against the Royals on Friday night was a no brainer, and it worked out nicely as Cleveland rolled. For today’s free play, I’m going with a heavy road favorite on the college gridiron.
367 NORTH CAROLINA STATE @ 368 SOUTH ALABAMA
Take: NC STATE -17.5
There’s always some concern when laying a load of points, whether at home or on the road. But circumstances being what they are and factoring in my personal power ratings, I think that’s the way to play today as North Carolina State journeys to Mobile for a meeting with South Alabama.
NC State is on a roll. The Wolfpack haven’t played anyone of note to start the season. But they’re a dominant 3-0, and they’ve maintained the very positive momentum from their impressive finish to the 2014 campaign. This is a very explosive team on offense. There’s loads of talent at the skill positions and to be candid, I’m a little surprised that QB Jacoby Brissett isn’t getting a bit more national play. His numbers are spectacular and with the dynamic Dayes/Thornton RB tandem, I think we’re going to see Brissett continue to flourish once ACC play gets underway.
The surprise so far is how staunch the Wolfpack defense has been. Granted, the competition has not been the stiffest. But the NC State defense is accruing some really impressive numbers. If this turns out to be reality rather than a soft schedule fluke, all I can say is watch out for this team in conference play.
South Alabama is returning home from a west coast journey that resulted in what sure appears to be the single biggest win in program history. The Jaguars were huge dogs last Saturday at San Diego State, but they forced the Aztecs to overtime and then walked away with a thrilling 34-27 win.
I’ll be interested to see how South Alabama reacts to registering such a great win. Programs not used to enjoying success can frequently go flat off a win of that magnitude. The Jaguars are somewhat limited in terms of overall talent, so any letdown here would likely result in a lopsided loss.
I also don’t see this as a good matchup for the home dogs. Cody Clements is okay under center but he’s not really a game changing type of QB. The Jaguars need to work the ground game and hope Xavier Johnson can break a big run or two. That’s not likely to be easy against a Wolfpack rush defense that has been sensational over the first three weeks.
I have this game at NC State -22. As I’ve pointed out previously, early season power ratings can sometimes get a bit skewed due to the opposition. But the fact remains this team has really dominated the three soft touches on the schedule. Meanwhile, while that certainly was a great win for the Jaguars last week, they’ve regularly gotten hammered when stepping up in class.
NC State has a big revenge spot with Louisville on deck, so that’s a concern. But I think it’s offset with the home dog looking to avoid the bounce following, what for them, was a major upset. South Alabama needs to keep this close early to have a legit chance to hang in. If they accomplish that feat, then the spread becomes a pothole that’s tougher to negotiate. But NC State has been a rocket out of the starting gate so far this season and if they get ahead early here, this one could be blowout city in a hurry. I’ll trust the numbers and I like the momentum on the road favorite’s side. North Carolina State minus the points is the play.