In the movie, “No Country for Old Men,” there is an exchange between a sheriff and his deputy upon walking up on a murder scene. “It’s a mess, ain’t it, Sheriff? If it ain’t, it’ll do till a mess gets here.” That describes exactly how we feel about the start of the college football season. It’s a mess. But we like it that way.

Ohio State lost to Oregon in Columbus. Notre Dame should have lost at home to Toledo (the echoes woke up the referees in the last minute and a half to secure the victory). Southern Cal lost at home to Stanford. In other words, the national scene relative to the playoffs blew up in the second week of the season (and blew Clemson right back in the picture).

In the ACC, Miami almost lost to App State (who may be the best team in the Tarheel State). Florida State lost on a last minute TD to Jacksonville State. Syracuse lost to Rutgers. BC barely beat UMass (one of the five worst teams in the FBS. And closer to home, ECU went up 14-0 on SEC foe South Carolina, but couldn’t hang on in Greenville, losing on a last second FG.

And NC State. The Wolfpack went into Starkville with high hopes of a signature win against the sixth (seventh?) best team in the SEC West and lost 24-10. The Bulldogs ran the opening kickoff back for a TD and never lost the lead (State fans must have got déjà vu from the 2017 loss to South Carolina). The Pack was 1-14-1 all time on the road to SEC teams going into the game (according to Twitter), so we aren’t sure why there was any surprise in the outcome here.

This should be a less messy week with few local and national signature games. Let’s get out the dartboard and do a quick run through of next week’s schedule (and our annual yearly thank you to Phil Steele’s college football magazine for the stats):

ALBANY AT SYRACUSE: The Orange may be the worst team in the ACC, but no way they lose in this one...Syracuse 38, Albany 7.

WESTERN MICHIGAN AT PITTSBURGH: The Panthers could be a surprise team in the Coastal and are coming off a win in Knoxville. A let down is possible. A loss is not likely…Pitt 35, WMU 24. 

BOSTON COLLEGE AT TEMPLE: BC has won four straight against the Owls in Philly. They should win easily here, assuming QB Phil Jurkovec’s wrist is OK…BC 38, Temple 21.

UCF AT LOUISVILLE: Louisville has won nine straight against non P5 teams. But look for future Big 12 member Central Florida to take down the Cards in a high scoring affair here…UCF 40, Louisville 31.

MICHIGAN STATE AT MIAMI: The Canes have dropped to 24 in the current AP poll and are hosting an undefeated Spartan team this weekend. The U will get back on track on this one and gain some national respect with a win over a Big Ten foe…Miami 35, Michigan State 21.

VIRGINIA TECH AT WEST VIRGINIA: The Hokies are 9-16 in Morgantown, but won their last time there in 2005. Va Tech got off with a bang in beating UNC, but will struggle a bit in their first road game this year. A close one…WVU 28, Virginia Tech 27.

GEORGIA TECH AT CLEMSON: The Tigers have won the last six in this matchup by an average of 31 points per game. Throw in home field advantage and Dabo wanting to run it up on a team from the Peach State, and this is a bit above average…Clemson 49, Georgia Tech 10.

FURMAN AT N.C. STATE: State’s season is not lost, as it all hinges on back-to-back road games in mid-October to Chestnut Hills and Coral Gables. They just need to come out of the next few weeks with everyone healthy and wins they should get. A repeat of the last matchup here…N.C. State 49, Furman 16.

EAST CAROLINA AT MARSHALL: This year is the 50th anniversary of the 1971 plane crash in which 75 people died in the worst sports related air tragedy in U.S. history. The crash occurred as the Herd was returning to Huntington from a loss in Greenville to the Pirates. Emotions will be high here, and Marshall is a much better team. Not close….Marshall 42, ECU 20.

NORTHWESTERN AT DUKE: Wallace Wade Stadium hosts SAT Bowl 1 this week. The series is tied 10-10. Both come in to this game with 1-1 records, and everything points to this being a toss-up. Home field advantage will help, but the Wildcats have more talent than the Blue Devils…Northwestern 31, Duke 24.

FLORIDA STATE AT WAKE FOREST: The Preachers are 7-30-1 all time against the Seminoles, but FSU ain’t what they have been all time. With this one in Winston, we look for WFU to win and cover. Could the Deacs be the second best team in the ACC Atlantic?...Wake Forest 31, FSU 21.

VIRGINIA AT NORTH CAROLINA: Don’t get caught up in the Heels’ loss to Va Tech or the whuppin that UVA put on the Illini last weekend. Carolina is better by a long shot and is at home. Still, the home team is 5-10 against the spread in the last 15 matchups of these long time rivals. The Tarheels will win, but it will be closer than Vegas thinks…UNC 35, Virginia 31.

OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND:  Georgia State over Charlotte, Appalachian State over Elon, Alabama over Florida, Georgia over South Carolina, Penn State over Auburn, Oklahoma over Nebraska, Cincinnati over Indiana, Arizona State over BYU, Mississippi State over Memphis (closer than last week), Stanford over Vandy (SAT Bowl II).

TOFF COMPOSITE TOP TEN:  1.  Alabama  2.  Georgia  3. Oregon  4.  Clemson  5.  Oklahoma  6.  Texas A & M  7.  Iowa  8.  Cincinnati  9. Florida 10. Ohio State.

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2021.