College football’s “Moving Month” wraps up with a pre-Halloween weekend that is part creepy costumes, part parental candy tax and all things pumpkin-infused.
For the record, I went old school this week, eschewing the pumpkin spiced latte for a simple piece of pumpkin pie. I also haven’t put my outfit together just yet. Going as one of the Gallagher brothers from “Oasis” may be cost-effective (you only need to not shave or comb your hear, wear aviator sunglasses, and snarl) but it’s been irrelevant for some time.
The area schools reach the second turning point of the season with a few tricks and treats of their own. While Navy is riding a road to redemption, Maryland finds itself behind the eight-ball in its pursuit of bowl-eligibility. Virginia and Virginia Tech have each had treats (the Cavaliers’ rout of Duke and the Hokies’ six-OT win over North Carolina) while still playing tricks on their fans (U.Va. losing at Miami and VT getting smoked by Duke).
Part of what makes Halloween an intriguing holiday is that one can dress up and pretend they’re something they’re not. Six or seven games into the college football season, that trick won’t work anymore.
For the final stretch, the masks will be off.
Maryland (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) at No. 17 Minnesota (7-0), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Before we even think about the November gauntlet of Michigan-Ohio State-Nebraska-Michigan State, the Terps have to deal with the unbeaten West Division leaders.
The Golden Gophers could easily have started 0-4, winning each of their September games by a touchdown or less. Given a reprieve, the October Gophers have blasted their foes this month by an average score of 39-10. They’re also led by the 1-2 punch of quarterback Tanner Morgan (66% completion rate with 16 touchdowns and 3 interceptions) and running back Rodney Smith (5.7 yards per carry).
Maryland starts a pair of true freshmen in their secondary and ranks last in the Big Ten at stopping the pass. Offensively, they’ll get quarterback Josh Jackson and running back Anthony McFarland back from ankle injuries. Both will be operating behind a banged up offensive line that’s started the same five just twice this fall.
Presto’s Pick: Terrapins tumble, 27-14
Virginia (5-2, 4-1 ACC) at Louisville (4-3, 2-2), 3:30 p.m. (ACC Network)
The Cavaliers regained the Coastal Division lead last week with their rout of Duke, but if their season of possibilities is to be more than just a pipe dream, they’ve got to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat.
A rebuilding Louisville is the classic case of that team. Even though the Cardinals have already doubled last season’s victory total under first-year head coach Scott Satterfield, they’re still last in the ACC in scoring defense and in the bottom four of most categories on that side of the ball.
Virginia’s D has been consistent all fall; unfortunately, the offense has been maddeningly uneven. A running game that’s had issues all fall has weighed heavily on the shoulders of Bryce Perkins — he’s thrown seven interceptions in seven games after being picked off just nine times last fall.
Kippy & Buffy recognize that during the season of possibilities a team has made the most of its opportunities. So, this week, they’re seizing the day by tailgating with Carpe Diem Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. The cool climate is the reason for the vivid black cherry flavors and intense rose petal and spice aromas. Like any contender that’s more than one-dimensional, the 2015 vintage wine offers more than a nice nose: “generous flavors of plum, blackberry and leather are uplifted with a great texture, silky tannin and crisp acidity.”
Presto’s Pick: Cavaliers continue their crisp play and come through, 24-17
Navy (5-1, 3-1 AAC) vs. Tulane (5-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Both schools are one win away from bowl eligibility. For the Midshipmen, that would mean doubling last year’s victory total on their road to redemption. For the Green Wave, it would mean a return trip to the postseason for the first time in program history.
The top two ground games in the conference square off in Annapolis, with Tulane already having some experience defending the option this year after outscoring Army 42-33 Oct. 5. They also boast a senior quarterback who’s been more than successful against the Mids — dual-threat Justin McMillan burned Navy for 291 yards passing and three touchdowns while running for another score last year.
McMillan better look for where the kid with the No. 1 jersey lines up each play; Navy junior Jacob Springer is coming off a three-sack afternoon against South Florida.
Presto’s Pick: Mids make it happen, 28-21
Georgetown gets by Lehigh, Howard slips to NC A&T, Richmond falls to Delaware, William & Mary loses at Maine, James Madison tops Towson, Morgan State falls to Florida A&M.
Last Week: 7-2. Overall: 51-21.
Editor’s Note: With legal sports gambling coming to D.C. this fall, we’re including two more picks this year: Chris Cichon’s “The Big Chee’s” will pick a Top 25 game each week, while Noah Frank’s “Frankie’s Flyer” will pick an underdog of at least 7 points to cover and possibly spring an outright upset.
The Big Chee’s: No. 5 Ohio State (-14.5) vs. No. 13 Wisconsin
Last Week: Win (3-5 vs. spread)
Frankie’s Flyers: Colorado (+13.5) vs. USC | Temple (+10.5) vs. UCF
Last Week: No cover (6-3 vs. spread, 3-6 outright)