We are on the heels of the pre-season college football practice. Anticipation is high amongst the fans and everyone is wondering how their team will fair in the first game of the season. Only a couple of teams face tough opponents in week one while the rest of the field play the usual "gimme" games.
So, after that first week the smack talk will begin as each team's fan base will incite rage against their favorite rival. Talk of quarterbacks who threw for 350 yards and running backs who rushed for 200 yards against FCS opponents will be batted across enemy territory.
Who needs a week one game in order to make unsubstantiated predictions against rivals? We can do that right now.
The Red River Rivalry: OU has been on the downside lately in this contest and last years injuries showed. After losing the last four out of five meetings the Sooners have something to prove. Look for an improved rushing offense to meet the passing game. But, don't count out the Longhorns just yet. Just count them out of this one. OU wins it on grit.
The Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party: Talk about making up ground in a series like no other series and you have Florida beating the dickens out of Georgia. In the past twenty years the Dawgs have come out on top thrice! This year may be their best chance for a fourth win in the past twenty-one years because of the disappearance of Tebow and crew. However, having a revamped defense and redshirt freshman quarterback, the Dawgs have a tall order. UF by talent,...barely.
Would you rather beat your biggest rival or win a National Championship?
Michigan at Ohio: Get ready for "#7"! I can't imagine the winning streak ending now. Michigan put themselves in dyer straights upon hiring Rich Rod. His aura was not inline with his chi. It will take another season for Rich to get this team to a ten win season. The Sweatered One seems to have the Buckeyes on the right track. tOSU takes it but only by a touchdown.
Florida State at Miami: This game used to mean something when....? Well, it is a Florida pride thing I guess. Nonetheless, Jimbo Fisher is looking to bring the Noles back to relevance and it starts by securing victories against the home state teams. Don't look for a nail biter like last seasons game but close. Randy Shannon takes it again, Miami by seven or ten, or six.
The Iron Bowl: Auburn beat Alabama last year for 57:37 in Jordan Hare Stadium. Unfortunately the game lasts sixty minutes. Now bolstered by a top five recruiting class the Tigers believe they have the depth to hold that lead. I mean the Auburn fans believe they have the depth. Gene Chizik knows otherwise. Coming into Bryant Denny Stadium off of a bi-week may help their chances...if it were next year. Tide rolls the Tigers and makes it three in a row.
South Carolina at Clemson: Why is this a rivalry? Instate? What is the record? Clemson overwhelmingly. Why does it matter? Because the winner gets to brag that their 8-5 record is better than the other's 7-6 record. The Fighting Dabos will be interesting this year now that Parker is back but there is no more Thunder and Lightning. Spurrier does something that hasn't been done in 30 years, string together consecutive wins. The Gamecocks!
Notre Dame at USC: Luckily for the Fighting Irish two things happened this year; one, Brian Kelly took over for an inept coach, and the biggest, two, Lane Kiffin took over for the disgraced Carroll. I'm not promising anything here Irish fans, but you may want to put those rosary beads down. It is over. Eight years of domination is gone. Look for Lane to lose this one late in the fourth. Touchdowwwwwwwn Jesus! (I don't think you will be able to see him from L.A.)
Army verse Navy: The Old Guard loves this game. The new kids find it a tad bit boring but it is tradition and therefore we must salute it. Because of Navy's last eight straight wins they have been able to take the lead in this series. That is pretty cool, maybe? Paul Johnson's imprint is still on Navy's offense. Navy for the ninth time.
The Backyard Brawl: Pittsburgh is a hit and miss team with Wannstedt at the helm but the same could be said for that old man who took over for Dick Rodriguez at West Virginia. I'm kidding, I know his name...uh,...uh,...whatever. The rivalry came to the height of the series in 2007 when the Mountaineers were playing for a chance at the Crystal Ball in the Sugar Bowl. The Panthers held them to a Toastitos' Fiesta Bowl with Bill Stewart solidifying his position as head coach by beating the bejesus out of OU. See, I knew his name (cough, google, cough). By the way, I looked at Pitts' outgoing QB and it appears that this guy is the Van Wilder of college football. He has stats on the NCAA website from 2002! Albeit zeros across the board, but a game played. Oh, the Panthers take this one with a slight edge in the running game.
The Egg Bowl: Nothing says love like the coach of your instate rival naming your school by its geographical location relative to theirs. Dan Mullin has intensified the hate between Ole Miss and Mississippi State fan bases by referring to the Rebels as "The School Up North". Oh, and by knocking the snot out of the much over hyped Jevan Snead and Houston Nutt in this past Egg Bowl. I gotta say, when Nutt is expected to win he finds a way to lose. Same will be said here. Nutt gets Mullin-ed, again!
There are several others we can throw in the mix and I might as well. Off the top of my head and with great disregard for last years stats, exiting players, and returning coaches here is a list.
LSU at Arkansas, Arkansas
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, OU
Michigan State at Michigan, Michigan
Penn State at Ohio State, Ohio State
Georgia at Auburn, Auburn
Utah at BYU, Utah
Arizona at Arizona State, Arizona
Southern Cal at UCLA, UCLA
Oregon at Oregon State, Oregon State
Alabama at Tennessee, Alabama
Florida at Florida State, Florida
Texas A&M at Texas, Texas
Alabama at LSU, Alabama
Michigan State at Michigan, Michigan
Colorado at Colorado State, Your head will explode if you watch this game!
Okay, we shall see how the season unfolds and if untold injuries shake up the mix. My guess is that this will be one of the better seasons in college football. Why? With question marks on several teams from coaching hires and fires to skill position transitions the anticipation is just a little bit higher than ever before.
We all want to know if our returning starters are going to take it up a notch or maintain the championship form they had the year before. Will the new quarterback fill the old one's shoes? How is the new defensive scheme going to look? Is that running back as good as his stars? Is this coach on the hot seat? A myriad of questions still left unknown.
All in due time Ladies and Gentlemen.