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Don’t Watch This; Watch That: Week 9 College Football Schedule Guide

MACtion returns, more from your favorite Texas cults, and the beauty of The Battle for the Oil Can.

MAC Football Championship - Ball State v Buffalo Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Currently having to prepare answers to the question “So what is it that Off Tackle Empire does here?”, so please pray for me.

There are FIVE DAYS to MACtion.

Bowling Green and Buffalo play Saturday morning, but the rest of the conference rests—because on November 2, at 6pm CT on CBSSN, Ball State and Akron kick off the REAL part of the season: TUESDAY NIGHT MACTION.

There’s very little I can tell you here that hasn’t already been told—midweek MACtion began in 1999 when then-commissioner Rick Chryst negotiated a deal with ESPN. It quickly became associated with absolute chaos; see the above link or just the video below for a wonderful Scott Van Pelt call of a 2006 Mud Bowl between Miami Hydroxide and Bowling Green:

After Toledo played a pair of 120+ point games—a 63-60 loss to Northern Illinois and a 66-63 win over Western Michigan—in back-to-back weeks in 2011, the #MACtion moniker willed into existence by Spencer Hall took off and became A Thing. ESPN signed the MAC to a 13-year contract back in 2014, and the conference became synonymous with the batshit insanity of not only midweek MACtion but bowl season as well:

As actual journalists like Rodger Sherman have taken the time to detail, MACtion is at best a massive inconvenience for anyone—players, fans, family—directly associated with the universities, players, and programs themselves. But, Sherman notes:

There is one undisputed winner in all this: me, the college football fan. I told you this was a love story about my romance with the MAC, but I have to admit that our relationship is not exactly healthy. The league bends over backward, altering the lives of its lifelong friends, just to get my attention. The few fans who brave 20-degree weather in mainly empty stadiums on weeknights are betrayed by their loyalty. They would be in that stadium no matter when the games were played, so their interests are forgotten in favor of us channel-browsers who are available only on Tuesdays from our living rooms. To thrive, the MAC caters to part-time lovers like me, instead of the fans who would be there any day of the week.

Bring on Tuesday. I’m sorry I haven’t given you my whole heart, MAC, but you know when the calendar hits November I’ll be there.

Thursday Evening

Don’t Watch This

South Florida Bulls at East Carolina Pirates (-10, O/U 56) [6:30pm, ESPN]

{NFL} Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals [7:20pm, FOX]

{Liga MX} Atlas vs. Xolos [7pm, TUDN]
{NBA} New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls [7pm, nbaTV]

Watch That

Troy Trojans at #24 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

6:30pm | ESPN2 | CCU -17 | O/U 51.5

{CONCACAF} Monterrey vs. America

9pm | FS1 | CONCACAF Champions League Final

When East Carolina plays South Florida at Raymond James, do they get home field advantage?

Texas A&M’s “I’m not a cult” parade has people asking a lot of questions already answered by the parade:

Speaking of death cults, I’m currently locked in mortal combat with my wife over whether or not we should go to a gathering of friends where we’re fairly confident that at least 50% of the population is unvaxxed. I do not believe social obligations—especially to people who have BS “doctorates” in a health “science”, regardless of if they now live in a foreign country or not—take precedence over public health, but it is amazing to still be having those conversations 19 months into a global pandemic.

I’m sure complaining about it on the internet in an article/forum she is vaguely aware I write is a good idea. Maybe I can just pout in the car for an hour until we go to Trader Joe’s.

Get vaccinated.


When I finally throw a fit and get us to leave the party (that begins at 5:30 across the Twin Cities!) around 6:30, what game should I turn on when I get home?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    (17 votes)
  • 7%
    (7 votes)
  • 8%
    The CONCACAF Champions League sounds prestigious enough!
    (8 votes)
  • 30%
    Watch Green Bay’s fourth-string WR get gift DPI calls all night as Whiny McManBun inexplicably wins another game.
    (29 votes)
  • 36%
    ...on second though the unvaccinated death cult sounds preferable to watching Green Bay football. (Plus, that Venn diagram’s basically a circle.)
    (35 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now

Friday Evening

Don’t Watch This

Princeton Tigers at Cornell Big Red [6pm, ESPNU]

{Liga MX} Necaxa vs. Mazatlan [7pm, TUDN]
{Liga MX} Juarez vs. Puebla [9pm, TUDN]
{MLB} Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves [7:09pm, FOX]
{NBA} Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat [6:30pm, ESPN}
{NBA} Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets [9pm, ESPN]

Watch That

Navy Midshipmen at Tulsa Golden Hurricane

6:30pm | ESPN2 | Tulsa -11 | O/U 47

UNLV Rebels at Nevada Wolf Pack

9pm | CBSSN | Nevada -20.5 | O/U 58

If a rivalry game—the Battle for the Fremont Cannon!—has featured a brawl in the last five years, you should watch it.

UNLV-Nevada fits that bill, even if I correctly called Week 1 that the Rebels would lose to Eastern Washington.

Since that season-opening loss, the 0-7 Rebels got blown out by Arizona State and Iowa State—no shame in that—but then have lost every single game by no more than a score, including to ARV Fresno State and #23 UTSA. The problem for second-year HC Marcus Arroyo (former Oregon OC) has been quarterback play—Tate Martell, you’ll be stunned to learn, was not the answer in Vegas, and the Rebels have used three other questions interchangeably. Charles Williams is a dynamic runner, but the rest of the situation...woof.

Meanwhile, when does Jay Norvell make the leap to the big time? The Pack are fun, with QB Carson Strong leading the line at 20 TDs and 4 INTs, while Toa Taua is an experienced, scrappy back. You almost feel for Iowa fans, because despite Norvell being a Hawkeye grad, there’s no way in hell this kind of flashy football would ever be tolerated in Kinnick. Enjoy 10 years of Brian, cornlards.


Friday night! I carve pumpkins, you watch...

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Navy-Tulsa AND UNLV-Nevada
    (27 votes)
  • 2%
    Just some AACtion—the Mountain West is too exciting for me
    (2 votes)
  • 12%
    Some bad MWC late-night viewing is exactly my jam.
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    ...perhaps soccer?
    (2 votes)
  • 14%
    No no, really, I LIKE Houston and/or Atlanta and think that’s SUPER exciting baseball!
    (10 votes)
  • 15%
    (11 votes)
  • 12%
    (9 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Morning

Don’t Watch This

#9 Iowa Hawkeyes at wisconsin badgers (-3.5, O/U 36.5) [11am, ESPN]
#2 Cincinnati Bearcats (-25, O/U 62) at Tulane Green Wave [11am, ESPN2]
Texas Longhorns at #16 Baylor Bears (-3, O/U 61.5) [11am, ABC]
Indiana Hoosiers at Maryland Terrapins (-5.5, O/U 49.5) [11am, BTN]
Miami Hurricanes at #17 Pittsburgh Panthers (-9, O/U 62) [11am, ACCN]
Virginia Tech Hokies at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-4, O/U 55.5) [11am, ESPN3]
UMass Minutemen at Fightin’ Falwells (-36, O/U 57.5) [11am, ESPN3]
UCF Citronauts (-10.5, O/U 52) at Temple Owls [11am, ESPN+]
Bowling Green Falcons at Buffalo Bulls (-13.5, O/U 51.5) [11am, CBSSN]
Texas State Bobcats at Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (-21.5, O/U 58.5) [11am, ESPNU]

{EPL} The Tottenham Spurs vs. Manchester United [11:30am, NBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Farewell Tour]
{La Liga} Valencia vs. VIllarreal [11:30am, ESPN+]
{Bundesliga} Eintracht Frankfurt vs. RB Leipzig [11:30am, ESPN+]
{Eredivisie} Heracles vs. Ajax [11:45am, ESPN+]
{CPL} Forge vs. HFX Wanderers [12pm, Fox Soccer Plus]
{MLS} Inter Miami vs. New York City FC [12:30pm, TUDN]

Watch That

#6 Michigan Wolverines at #8 Michigan State Spartans

11am | FOX | Michigan -4 | O/U 50.5

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Illinois Fighting Illini

11am | BTN | Rutgers -1.5 | O/U 42

Yes, hello, it is ILLINUTGERS Day. Does anyone have questions about ILLINUTGERS?

In a morning of bad football games, Iowa-wisconsin has the chance to be something truly grotesque. Best just read about it in tomorrow’s newspaper SMCD.


I mean, dear gods:

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    battle for the lumberjack tchotchke
    (54 votes)
  • 27%
    (35 votes)
  • 17%
    my big ten team is playing at this time
    (23 votes)
  • 13%
    literally anything else, dear god, save yourself
    (17 votes)
129 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Afternoon

Don’t Watch This

#22 Iowa State Cyclones (-7, O/U 48) at West Virginia Mountaineers [1pm, ESPN+]
Missouri Tigers (-16, O/U 63) at Vanderbilt Commodores [2pm, SECN]
Washington State Cougars at Arizona State Sun Devils (-16, O/U 53) [2pm, FS1]
Minnesota Gophers (-7.5, O/U 43.5) at Northwestern Wildcats [2:30pm, BTN]
Purdue Boilermakers at Nebraska Cornhuskers (-7.5, O/U 52) [2:30pm, ESPN2]
#1 Georgia Bulldogs (-14, O/U 51) vs. Florida Gators [2:30pm, CBS]
Texas Tech Red Raiders at #4 Oklahoma Sooners (-19.5, O/U 66.5) [2:30pm, ABC]
Colorado Buffaloes at #7 Oregon Ducks (-24, O/U 49) [2:30pm, FOX]
FIU Sunblazers at Marshall Thundering Herd (-21.5, O/U 64.5) [2:30pm, Stadium]
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (-4, O/U 52.5) at Old Dominion Monarchs [2:30pm, CBSSN]
Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (-13.5, O/U 48) [2:30pm, ESPN+]
Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers (-9.5, O/U 47) [2:30pm, ESPN]
Boston College Eagles at Syracuse Orange (-6.5, O/U 49.5) [2:30pm, ESPN3]
TCU Horned Frogs at Kansas State Wildcats (-3.5, O/U 58.5) [2:30pm, ESPNU]
UL Monroe Warhawks at Appalachian State Mountaineers (-27, O/U 58) [2:30pm, ESPN+]
Duke Blue Devils at #13??? Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-17, O/U 70) [2:30pm, ACCN]
Charlotte 49ers at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (-17.5, O/U 73) [3pm, ESPN+]
Arkansas State Red Wolves at South Alabama Jaguars (-9, O/U 66.5) [4pm, ESPN+]

{Belgian Jupiler League} Sint-Truiden vs. Club Brugge [1:45pm, ESPN+]
{EFL} Reading vs. AFC Bournemouth [2pm, ESPN+]
{Eredivisie} AZ vs. PEC Zwolle [2pm, ESPN+]
{MLS} Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes [2:30pm, TUDN]
{CPL} Cavalry vs. Valour [2:30pm, Fox Soccer Plus]
{MLS} New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Foot Club [3pm, ESPN+]

Watch That

North Texas Mean Green at Rice Owls

1pm | ESPN3 | Rice -2.5 | O/U 56.5

Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors at Utah State Aggies

2pm | Stadium | USU -5.5 | O/U 65

Wyoming Cowboys at San Jose State Spartans

3pm | FS2 | SJSU -3 | O/U 41

#3 Southern Illinois Salukis at #16 Northern Iowa Panthers

4pm | ESPN+

Anywho, Northwestern and Minnesota play this afternoon, and let’s see how WSR and MNW have prepar—

Having spent appreciable time in both cities, I’m prepared to say it:


Carbondale is better than Cedar Falls.


GOOD AFTERNOON! The sun is shining, the pigeons are flying west for the winter, and you’re watching...

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    UNT-Rice will probably have points!
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Hawai’i-USU could be a banger?
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    I prefer a less objectionable version of Iowa-wisconsin, so Wyoming-SJSU it is!
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Aw yeah, gimme that sick SIU-UNI shit
    (5 votes)
  • 41%
    My Big Ten team is playing at this time
    (43 votes)
  • 12%
    i’m sorry what the HELL is that cedar falls-carbondale take
    (13 votes)
  • 33%
    i’m sorry who the HELL has a cedar falls-carbondale take
    (35 votes)
103 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Evening

Don’t Watch This

UTEP Miners at Florida Atlantic Owls (-11, O/U 47.5) [5pm, ESPN+]
#12 Kentucky Wildcats (-1.5, O/U 47) at Mississippi State Bulldogs [6pm, SECN]
Kansas Jayhawks at #15 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-30.5, O/U 54.5) [6pm, FS1]
Oregon State Beavers (-1.5, O/U 55) at California Golden Bears [6pm, Pac-12]
Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans (-21, O/U 56.5) [6pm, ESPNU]
Boise State Broncos (-2.5, O/U 51.5) at Colorado State Rams [6pm, CBSSN]
#20 Penn State Nittany Lions at #5 Ohio State Buckeyes [6:30pm, ABC]
North Carolina Tar Heels at #11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-3.5, O/U 62.5) [6:30pm, NBC]
Louisville Cardinals at NC State Wolfpack (-6.5, O/U 56.5) [6:30pm, ACCN]

{MLS} Atlanta United vs. Toronto FC [6pm, ESPN+]
{Liga MX} Queretaro vs. Santos Laguna [6pm, TUDN]
{CPL} Pacific vs. York United [6pm, Fox Soccer Plus]
{MLS} DC United vs. Columbus Crew [7:30pm, ESPN+]
{NBA} Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers [6:30pm, nbaTV]

Watch That

Georgia State Panthers at Georgia Southern Eagles

5pm | ESPN+ | GASt -6.5 | O/U 56

#10 Ole Miss Rebels at #18 Auburn Tigers

6pm | ESPN | Auburn -3 | O/U 66

#19 SMU Mustangs at Houston Cougars

6pm | ESPN2 | EVEN | O/U 62.5

{B1GVB} #6 Nebraska at #11 Minnesota

7pm | BTN | Preview here

I’m firmly on team #WatchLane for the foreseeable future. Don’t dig Ole Miss by any stretch, but this beleaguered-slash-clearly loving it Lane Kiffin thing is must-view television.

Modern Day Hate always worth a watch, even if the game hasn’t quite had the fireworks of a UNLV-Nevada (given that State’s only been around since 2010, which is terrifying because I’ve already just accepted them as a normal football program).

Boise-Colorado State could get good and stupid, given the Rams’ tarty exploits in Week 8, but if you’re looking for G5 action, it’s the battle at the top of the AAC standings that should grab your attention. SMU, at 7-0, has been rolling under petulant asshole Sonny Dykes, with Tanner Mordecai already at 29 TD passes for the year; defense has been optional in University Park, but only ball-control-oriented Navy has kept the Ponies from scored fewer than 5 touchdowns in a game.

This isn’t a ranked-ranked matchup because...well, it’s been a little more white-knuckle down adjacent to the ol’ Third Ward, where Clayton Tune and the Coogs have seen off Rice, Tulsa, and Tulane, but struggled against Navy and in a weather-marred East Carolina game. Their only blemish is an epic second-half meltdown to Texas Tech in the season opener, but there’s just been less consistency out of Dana Holgorsen’s team. Beating SMU under the lights at Robertson TDECU Stadium is as good a chance as Houston will get to be ranked in 2021—it’ll have to start by controlling the clock and establishing the run with Alton McCaskill.


So this is a Saturday night?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Modern Day Hate
    (3 votes)
  • 11%
    Ole Miss-Auburn
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    (3 votes)
  • 57%
    Ohio State-Penn State
    (57 votes)
  • 5%
    Some other football game
    (5 votes)
  • 20%
    Big Ten Volleyball
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    (1 vote)
100 votes total Vote Now

It’s late and I’m drunk...

Don’t Watch This

Washington Huskies at Stanford Cardinal (-2.5, O/U 48) [9:30pm, FS1]

{MLS} FC Dallas vs. Austin FC [8pm, ESPN+]
{Liga MX} Pachuca vs. Pumas UNAM [8:06pm, TUDN]
{Liga MX} Tigres UANL vs. Chivas [9pm, TUDN]

Watch That

UCLA Bruins at Utah Utes

9pm | ESPN | Utah -6.5 | O/U 60.5

Virginia Cavaliers at #25 BYU Cougars

9:15pm | ESPN2 | BYU -2.5 | O/U 63.5

Fresno State Bulldogs at #21 San Diego State Aztecs

9:30pm | CBSSN | SDSU -1 | O/U 44.5

This is about as BITCHIN a late-night schedule as we’ve had—not necessarily on the “well this could be completely drunk” scale, but definitely on the “decent teams playing important games” scale. UCLA-Utah could either cement the Yoots atop the Pac-12 South OR throw it wide up with everyone except Arizona State having at least 2 losses, while UVA-BYU is a fun little homecoming for Bronco Mendenhall featuring two offenses that can score the ball a bit.

Oh, and Fresno State plays San Diego State for an OIL CAN.

Unfortunately, I will be in a suite at the Timberwolves game, which could be pretty bitchin because I don’t care about the Pups but I love free booze.

But when I get home?

Punt. Porn.


It’s late and I’m drunk, so I’m watching...

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    (4 votes)
  • 29%
    (24 votes)
  • 2%
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    I’ll be at the Timberwolves game with you, MNW
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    Whatever our suite has on, which I hope is not the Timberwolves game
    (7 votes)
  • 37%
    lol i passed out hours ago
    (30 votes)
81 votes total Vote Now

Give your tributes to midweek MACtion in the comments. Here’s your thread for Thursday and Friday’s games. Enjoy, everyone.