It is the best of weekends, it is the worst of weekends…
College football is known as a cyclical game; the success of teams and conferences ebbs and flows over time, while offensive and defensive systems go in and out of fashion. The schedule is different on a weekly basis. One weekend will be chalked full of great matchups while another will appear to be almost entirely devoid of quality games. This weekend appears to the latter, which is good. We’ll explain.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 10
Clemson v. (15) Georgia Tech
Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer, Craig James, Erin Andrews
First things first, the NFL kicks off tonight opposite this game so that is a huge distraction. I cannot say this game will get my full attention.
In case you have did not get enough of the triple option last weekend, you can check out the father of Navy’s attack tonight.
This game game is historically close with six of the last nine games being decided by less than four points, which incidentally is the Vegas line.
There are other non-gambling reasons to watch this one, too. Jonathan Dwyer (GT) and CJ Spiller (CLM) both tore of ginormous runs on their first touches last weekend—Spiller had a 96-yard kickoff return and Dwyer took the opening play 74 yards for a score. As even as that matchup sounds, the addition of Nesbitt and Roddy Jones make GT far more versatile.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 11
Colorado v. Toledo
Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham
By this time on Friday, you will likely be crouched in your fortified bunker/basement surrounded by stacks of canned food and dozens of AA batteries.
Accordingly, this will be your only outlet for overly intense football focus. All you need to do is pretend either one of these is relevant. Did you see either one play last weekend? Easier said than done.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
You will likely wake up at sun up with a clenched fist and blood pressure somewhere north of really high. You will need to watch football...badly. But you will not have attention span to pay attention to anything other than the endless promos for the Ohio State game. I
n that sense, it is a good thing that noon slot is pure garbage. You couldn't concentrate anyway.
Think of the noon slot as an educational endeavor. Penn State takes on a Syracuse squad that was awfully pesky for Minnesota last weekend. Granted, that was in the Carrier Dome (and it was against Minny), but it will be interesting to see if the ‘Cuse is able to put up any kind of fight this weekend. Ditto for Central Michigan.
Syracuse v. (7) Penn State
12:00pm, Big Ten Network
Craig Coshun, Glen Mason, Kenny Jackson
This game is more of a referendum on Minnesota than a judgment of Penn State. (Is Minnesota that horrible? Is that a rhetorical question?)
You will find out in a hurry if Penn State hangs four first half touchdowns on SU. The Nittany Lions dominated the Orange last season 55-13, so a similar beating should signal decent things for Penn State and horrific results for Minnesota.
Or, maybe Minny was looking forward to the ass-whipping they will get from California this week as they open their new (and very nice) outdoor stadium.
Central Michigan v. Michigan State
Pam Ward, Ray Bentley
I always give you a flip game, so I will follow through with it here as well, but there is almost no reason why you should watch this game. I mean, Ohio State does not even play MSU this season. In all honesty, I think it is best to stay away from the this mess.
Drive-bys in desperation include Breakfast in Madison a.k.a. the Fresno State v. Wisconsin game and, um…who am I kidding. If you find these games totally unpalatable (and no one would blame you if you do), you can watch the U.S. Open Men’s semifinals, or just go to the gym and burn off some of that nervous energy.
Finally, things start to get a little interesting at 3:30 pm. But, just as you are getting ready to watch a classic rivalry attempt to resuscitate itself, you realize that you need to head down to Woody Hayes Drive and make sure everyone is drinking their beer out of a plastic cup.
That way, Ohio State fans and tailgaters alike can double their carbon footprint by throwing out thousands of cans and bottles that held that exact same beer. The USC/OSU tailgate may be the least environmentally friendly tailgate in the country this season. Anyway, I digress.
(18) Notre Dame v. Michigan
Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe
Oh yeah, ND/UM. If you do watch, and you should if you are at home, you will see two radically different offenses; and by that I mean two offenses that will not make you sick to your stomach. You could make a sincere argument that Michigan has the better athletes and with a little execution, this game could be theirs.
UCLA v. Tennessee
Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Erin Andrews
This is easily the most hateful game of the day (and possibly season) with Lane Kiffin and Rick Neuheisal squaring off. UT looked better than most thought and everyone wanted, so they appear to have the edge on a UCLA team that is still trying to get used to a season without dozens of catastrophic injuries.
The nice part of this flip game is that it is half an hour behind the Michigan game, so you will not have to sit through the clown college that is John Saunders's half time babble.
South Carolina v. (21)Georgia
Mike Patrick, Craig James, Heather Cox
This time slot is the lone nice thing that ESPN has given college football fans. It fills that void between the late afternoon games and the nightcap with a real contest.
Sure, this may end up being 6-3 boredom festival, but it is a conference game with legitimate implications, which is more than can be said about virtually any other game on Saturday.
(3)USC v. (8)Ohio State
ESPN: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters
ESPN 3D: Mark Jones, Bob Davie, Ed Cunningham
Some of you will be watching this one in 3D, which sounds pretty spooky. If any of you do see this one on the big screen with funny plastic glasses, I demand a full review the following day or at whatever time your eyes and mind recover from watching a 20-foot Terrelle Pryor gallop around the theater. How can that not be cool?