Presto’s Picks: Maryland, Virginia & Navy hope for home cooking; Texas-Oklahoma features fried foods, cooked teams

College football’s conference carousel often creates strange bedfellows.

For instance, this week’s local Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) action features games that were non-conference matchups as recently as 10 years ago, such as Maryland-Purdue (the all-time series is now three games) and Virginia-Louisville (two matchups before 2014), although Virginia Tech-Pitt was a Big East battle before it became an ACC affair.

But there’s one couple that stays together despite multiple mergers and moves.

Texas and Oklahoma have played every year since 1928, whether they’ve been in different conferences (Texas in the Southwest and Oklahoma in the Big Six/Seven/Eight from 1929-95) or the same (the Big 12 since 1996).

Now they’re set to leave for the greener (as in $$$) pastures of the SEC together in 2025, and while the Longhorns and Sooners are the two biggest names in the Big 12 — multiple National Championships and Heisman Trophies do not lie — they’re both dealing with less-than-awesome seasons this year.

Each is 3-2 heading into their annual showdown, and this is the only Big 12 game this week where neither team is ranked.

But there’s a caveat: unranked West Virginia and Baylor are both idle and the league with 12 in its name only has 10 schools. While this game is aired on national TV, whoever loses will be at .500 halfway through the season and having to answer to a fan base dealing with major indigestion.

Speaking of stomachs being challenged, just down the street from the Cotton Bowl, where the Longhorns and Sooners will play, the Texas State Fair is back in full force. Curtailed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic, the best fried foods you could possibly imagine will be front and center.

As a public service, we’ll highlight some items on this year’s menu:

Chicharron Explosion Nachos. (Courtesy Texas State Fair)

We start with the Chicharron Explosion Nachos by Glen and Sherri Kusak of Farm Pac Kitchens.

Does one dare try nachos that have “explosion” in the name? Fried pork rinds, smoked beef fajita, freshly-made queso and savory barbecue chopped beef complete the picture. Recommended for those whose drive home that day is less than two hours.

Deep Fried Lasagna. (Courtesy Texas State Fair)

For those looking for something with roots beyond the Lone Star State borders, there’s an Italian import in the form of the Deep Fried Lasagna Roll by the Parish Family.

If you like cheese, this one is for you with ricotta, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella topped with a homemade meat sauce. Dipped in a cheddar and herb batter before frying, and then garnished with marinara sauce, more mozzarella, and fresh basil. Say ciao to an empty stomach!

The Fried Charcuterie Board. (Courtesy Texas State Fair)

Last but not least, there’s the winner for Best Taste-Savory, the Fried Charcuterie Board (for the record, it feels as if putting “fried” in any item’s name is redundant and in most cases expected) by Tami Nevins-Mayes and Josey Mayes.

Chopped-up fresh mozzarella, salami and crisp green apples (fruit makes this the healthy option) are tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Italian herbs, fried in a wonton wrapper and topped with creamy goat cheese (again, for those who are health-conscious) and hot honey. All four food groups — plus a few I didn’t know existed!

Saturday’s games

Maryland (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) vs. Purdue, noon, BTN

One reason for the Terps’ strong start is a defense that has dominated in the second halves, holding foes to 34 points over five games (less than half the 71 allowed in five first halves). While there’s a lot more talent, experience and depth on that side of the ball, Coach Mike Locksley credits defensive coordinator Brian Williams’ halftime adjustments.

This week, they face the one-two combo of Boilermakers quarterbacks Aidan O’Connell and Charlie Jones. Purdue has lost two games by a combined six points thanks to fourth-quarter fades: they allowed 14 points at Penn State and 22 at Syracuse.

Presto’s Pick: Terrapins triumph, 30-24.

Virginia (2-3, 0-2 ACC) vs. Louisville, noon, ACCN

Two months ago, this looked like a quarterback clash for the ages, but a bad offensive line has undercut Brennan Armstrong (UVA is 12th in the ACC in passing and last in passing efficiency), while Malik Cunningham is a human question mark after leaving last week’s loss to Boston College with an injury.

The Cardinals will need all the firepower Cunningham provides (193 yards passing plus 91 rushing per game), because their defense has allowed 100 points in three conference games. The Cavaliers will need to protect Armstrong, as Louisville is tied for the ACC lead with 16 sacks, and best mind their P’s and Q’s as they lead the ACC in penalty yards.

Kippy and Buffy mind their P’s and Q’s by pouring a bottle of Jess & Jules 2017 cabernet sauvignon. According to the winery website, this North Coast red features “ripe dark currant fruits, mocha and bay leaf flood the glass, opening to a rich, concentrated palate with great length and graphite-laden tannins.”

Wine Enthusiast says it’s “sultry in baking spice, vanilla and a touch of caramel, it finishes with a roundedness that appeals.” Break out the Lambchop Lollipops.

Presto’s Pick: Cavaliers will finish with roundedness that doesn’t appeal, losing 21-17.

Virginia Tech (2-3, 1-1 ACC) at Pitt, 3:30 p.m., ACCN

The Panthers won the Coastal Division last year behind the strong arm and small hands of Kenny Pickett, and are finding the post-Pickett world less than ideal, ranking eighth in the ACC in passing and scoring.

Last Saturday, they fell victim to the “fired coach bounce” in their loss to hapless Georgia Tech. They do return with running back Israel Abanikanda, who has not only averaged more than 100 yards per game this fall but rumbled for 140 in a win over the Hokies last fall in Blacksburg.

On defense, Pitt is tied with Louisville for the league lead in sacks, while VT hasn’t scored a single second-half touchdown in the last two weeks (they’ve scored 30 points after halftime over five games this season).

Presto’s Pick: Hokies are humbled, 37-16.

Navy (1-3, 1-1 AAC) vs. Tulsa, 3:30 p.m., CBSSN

The Midshipmen have won six of seven between the two schools since they joined the American Athletic Conference, including last year’s 20-17 triumph. That was one of eight one-possession games for the Mids last year and they’ve already played three one-score affairs this year.

The question is: Can they turn their clock-killing drives into points instead of missed opportunities? And can a pass rush that’s made plays (third in the AAC in sacks per game) find their way to quarterback Davis Brin (who throws for 300+ yards per game but also gets sacked more than any other quarterback in the league)?

Presto’s Pick: Midshipmen make it happen, 20-18.

James Madison (4-0, 2-0 Sun Belt) at Arkansas State, 7 p.m., NFL NET

Finally, JMU gets its night on the big stage! (Even though they have to go to Jonesboro, Arkansas, to get there.)

The Red Wolves have already equaled their win total from 2021 in Butch Jones’ second season at the helm, and are 2-0 at home while averaging 51.5 points at Centennial Bank Stadium — but they’ve yet to face a defense like Coach Curt Cignetti’s unit, which allows the fewest yards per game in FBS.

They’ve also coughed up 39 points per game in their three losses. Much like Marshall when they made the move to then-Division I-A in 1997, the planets are aligning for one incredible season.

Presto’s Pick: Dukes dominate in a 34-15 drubbing.

Morgan State beats Norfolk State, Georgetown falls to Penn, Towson slips at Elon, William & Mary loses to Delaware.

Last Week: 11-0

Overall: 37-11

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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