Welcome to Paycheck Week. It has now become commonplace for power schools to leave the 11th game of the year as one of the games where they schedule a paycheck game for a vastly inferior opponent – either an FCS school or a school in one of the “Group of 5” conferences – American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West or Sun Belt – that uses the road game and its one-half to 1 million-dollar share of receipts to fund its football program for the year. My school had theirs 2 weeks ago at Tennessee, and next year will get funded in exchange for losing 77-0 at Clempson. There are a couple of actual SEC games sprinkled in this week, plus the Backwards Game in College Station.
The Citadel at ‘Bama – I’d say pull the starters after 1 series. The Evil Empire 49, The Citadel 0
Idaho at Florida – Given how wacky these guys have been, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Idaho take an early lead. Not that it matters that much. Lizards 44, Idaho 7
Middle Tennessee at Kentucky – The first of 3 games with Conference USA teams seeking program-funding matchups. As has become their custom, MTSU has a very good offense. The home team appears to have packed it in after losing to Georgia. There is still enough of a talent gap to overcome the lack of focus, but it will be fairly close. Briers 28, MTSU 20 
Ar-Kansas at Misipi State – The Hogs have shown an ability to hang within striking distance of their much-more-talented opponents most of the year. Misipi State has had up-and-down moments throughout the season. This should be an easy win, but I suspect it will not be, and the Hogs will claim a moral victory. Jerry Clower U 27, Pigs 17
Missouri at Tennessee – What both of these teams have are talented but inconsistent QBs. I think the Tigers offense is a little more potent, and will carry the day. Mizzou 30, Vols 23 
UMass at Georgia – Let me tell you a little about UMass. They are 4-7, and this is their last game. They gave up 58 points to both Ohio U and South Florida, 59 to Liberty, and 63 to Florida International. (They also dropped 28 points in the first 6:09 of the game on the way to a romp over my Charlotte 49ers, but gave up 31 points in that one.) So they don’t play much defense. Georgia will probably be looking for an intramural flag football team to play the second half. Big Ol’ Hairy Dawgs 77, Minutemen 28 
UAB at Texas A&M – This is the Backwards Game. It’s UAB’s program-funding paycheck game, but they’ve screwed up the script by being 9-1 and ranked, while A&M has been inconsistent, playing Clempson and ‘Bama very close but losing to Auburn and Misipi State. The talent gap is not as big as you would expect from an SEC team to a C-USA team. I’m sure Coach Jimmy-Joe-Bill-Bob Fisher has been pleading for his team to take UAB seriously, but I expect the players will not. They’ll get down early and have to scramble to come back. They will, but the battle-tested Blazers will manage to pull off the upset of the year in the SEC. Blazers 28, Aggies 27 
Chattanooga at South Carolina – SC lost one of its paycheck opponents to Hurricane Florence. Then they ruined their season by gagging away a win over Florida. They’re going to get destroyed by Clempson again. This will be their respite from the late-season doldrums. Fightin’ Chickens 45, Chattanooga 13 
Misipi at Vanderbilt – Vandy has surprised everyone by fielding a real, genuine, honest-to-gawd offense for the first time since James Franklin was the coach. We already know Misipi can roll up the yards & points. This will be the most entertaining of the 3 conference games this week. Vandy 38, Misipi 34 
Rice at LSU – In case you missed the memo, Rice is the worst team in the country. It used to be Texas-San Antonio, who had lost 20 straight games. But 2 weeks ago, UTSA broke the long losing streak with a win over Rice. The Owls haven’t won since week 1 – by a whopping THREE points over Prairie View A&M. Even the barely-existing LSU offense can have video game stats over this bunch. LSU 44, Rice 3 
Liberty at Auburn – This is probably the most entertaining of the Cupcake Week games, because there will probably be a ton of points scored. The talent disparity is immense, but the inability of Auburn to bury anyone this year will keep the Maalox flowing well into the second half. I will try to savor the last victory of the season. WAR EAGLE 55, Jerry Falwell U 38 
Florida International at Charlotte – Last week’s loss at Marshall looks like a blowout, but it really wasn’t. It was tied 13-13 after a couple minutes into the third quarter. Over the next 20 minutes of game action, the Herd got 2 TDs and a field goal, then everyone just went through the motions for the last 6-7 minutes. This season is a repeat of 2016 for us – nothing was expected, and after a surprise win over Southern Miss, we had 4 wins and were thinking bowl game. However, we lost a couple, including 1 very winnable game. Then, facing a need to win both of the last 2 games, game 11 was a loss and then there was no motivation for the final game. This season looks like it will end the same way. FIU is 7-3 and on a roll. If we can get a decent recruiting class, we should go bowling next year. For now, well…. FIU 37, 49ers 14 
Last week’s record: 6-2
Season: 80-20