It's that time of year.
Freshly mowed grass, double sessions, and linemen puking...we're getting ready to rumble. Football is about to begin.
And we've got some great games on tap, from traditional rivalries to some out-of-conference delights such as Boise State against Virginia Tech and Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions against the Crimson Tide of Alabama.
We also have some games that are, well, not so good.
This is college football’s version of the playground bully, where the big, powerful program packed with studs takes on a weaker (usually FCS) opponent that is smaller and slower at all positions.
Monster U gets a nice full-contact practice, while their victim gets a big fat paycheck.
So this year, in recognition of these mismatches, which occur with frightening regularity, we are creating the "Golden Creampuff" award.
Each week I'll pick the absolute biggest mismatch for the BCS conferences, the Mountain West, Conference USA and the WAC, and also the Independents (hey, can't let the Domers off the hook, eh?).
We'll review and rank each week's debacles, awarding points in our CCS (Creampuff Championship Series), with the ultimate goal of awarding a conference the coveted Golden Creampuff.
That will be the league that scheduled the biggest mismatches week after week after week.
So let's get started: the beginning of the year is always a football masochists delight, given the propensity of coaches to schedule some lay-down in game one to work out the kinks.
Here is the first batch of mismatches out of the oven as we kick off the season.
The long grey line...just lined up a patsy
It’s kind of tough to pick on the Independents—after all, there are only three of them left.
Both Notre Dame and Navy are starting out with traditional foes, with Purdue and Maryland respectively, decent teams that have recently fallen on hard times.
And then there are the Black Knights of the Hudson.
It has been a while since the Cadets have been decent. The excuse that they can’t get athletes to play for a service academy does not hold too much water, since both Navy and Air Force have been competitive.
So Army decided to downgrade their schedule. This is one reason they are playing Eastern Michigan.
Eastern Michigan ended up a woeful 0-12 last year and is not looking much better this year.
Well, at least they're not FCS.
Well, since Boise is dissin us, we will just have to play the Sioux
Up in Idaho, the Vandals take on the Fighting Sioux.
This, if you think about it, is pretty much what happened back in the Old West when the Black Hills and most of Dakota were taken from the tribe.
Now, we have a resurgent Idaho program pillaging a FCS school.
Granted, this is not the hugest of mismatches. North Dakota has played pretty decently at their level, while Idaho went to their first bowl in a dog’s age last year and itself rose up from the 1-AA ranks in the not-so-distant past.
But if you want to play at the upper levels, shouldn't you schedule games against opponents who are also in that tier?
Especially since your in-state rival Boise State, the best team in the WAC, has just announced that when they leave the league, they will also not play you anymore.
The hunter....and the hunted
Northwestern State didn’t exactly burn up the Southland Conference in FCS play last year, finishing 0-11. They’re supposed to get a bit better this year.
They can’t get much worse.
They are taking on an Air Force team that runs, runs, runs and plays tough competitive defense, which has resulted in a couple of bowl seasons for the Falcons.
The Zoomies can be commended for scheduling an out-of-conference game against Oklahoma this year. But the game against the boys from Louisiana has mismatch written all over it.
Sooooey...we're gonna make em' squeel like pigs
The Hogs of Arkansas are a popular dark horse candidate for a run at the SEC and a top-10 ranking.
After all, they return 16 starters from last year including quarterback Ryan Mallett, who has NFL written all over him.
They take on a FCS Tennessee Tech team that was decidedly mediocre last year and must be hard up for dinero, since they are also scheduling a top-10 TCU team a bit later in the season.
The only question in this one is will the Hogs hit 50?
Throw, throw, throw...score, score, score
The Houston Cougars are led by another talented quarterback, Case Keenum. He is on most Heisman watch lists, and led the Cougars into the top 25 for a good portion of last year.
The Cougars knocked off a couple of Big 12 teams along the way, including Oklahoma State and old SWC foe Texas Tech.
The Houston D couldn’t stop much of anything last year, but this shouldn’t matter much in this matchup.
Bobcats don’t do too well against Cougars in the wild, and it will be the same thing here.
Texas State may be game for the first quarter or two, but Houston’s speed will just blow right by them. Expect to see Keenum with a 400-yard game to start his season.
The older I get, the grumpier I get...
This game is a classic example of a glorified scrimmage.
Oh sure, Youngstown State has been pretty successful at their level. But let’s get real here.
Jo Pa scheduled this so he can get in an extra week of working on the basics.
Penn State will easily beat these guys without using even one third of their playbook.
I expect to see the student section pretty empty by the third quarter or so, as the kids say the heck with this and go out to quaff a few more brews.
The Aggies return 17 starters from last year.
This includes eight from the Big 12's leading offense, led by another guy on the Heisman watch list, Jerrod Johnson.
It also includes nine from the worst defense in the Big 12. Hopefully for the Aggie faithful, the extra year of experience combined with a new 3-4 scheme and new defensive coach Tim DeRuyter can turn things around.
Starting the season with a FCS game in Aggieland won't hurt either. Expect to see the Aggies hang 50 or more on the undermanned Lumberjacks.
Unlucky 13 for you, Cal-Davis
The Bears have been consistent underachievers the past few years.
Talented teams. Fast starts. And then the inevitable collapse.
They’re looking for an easy W out of the gate this year, taking on a Cal-Davis squad that was 6-5 last year at the FCS level.
Kind of sucks for the Cal-Davis guys, who not only were not good enough to make the Cal squad, but also were probably not smart enough to get admitted to Cal as regular students.
Talk about a bummer that’ll give you a serious inferiority complex.
Cal likely will once again be on the outside looking in come Rose Bowl time, but they’ll score a big, fat juicy win to start the season off.
We're jumpin for joy at beating your boy....
The Mountaineers return a slew of players and are expected to challenge for the Big East crown.
Coastal Carolina went 5-6 last year on a senior-heavy team.
Add in the fact that you’re playing in Morgantown, where the atmosphere is renowned for its “civility” to opposing teams, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a Grade A smackdown.
Runnin' you over
The ACC often gets criticized as being, along with the Big East, among the weakest of the BCS conferences.
This year, Virginia Tech decided to man up and take on Boise State. The rest of the league was right behind them.
Make that way behind them.
Wake Forest vs. Presbyterian, Duke vs. Elon, Georgia Tech vs. South Carolina State, BC vs. Weber State, Miami vs. Florida A&M, and NC State vs. Western Carolina are some of the other games on tap to start out the season.
I mean, how do you select the biggest blowout from all of that—other than the obvious elimination of the Duke contest, since the Blue Devils are always quite capable of gridiron futility at any level.
So I went with Florida State vs. Samford. The Seminoles are coming off of a couple of good recruiting years and should be back in the mix. Samford was 5-6 and does not return much.
Ready for that tomahawk chop?
We're outta the Big 12...man I hate those Longhorns
The Huskers are skedaddlin’ out of the Big 12 to the Big Ten (who should, by the way, change names once it is all done).
And they have loaded up with one of the easiest out of conference schedules in the nations, (along with fellow Big 12 North compatriot Missouri).
They are starting out their season against woeful Western Kentucky, who just moved up from FCS a couple of years ago.
The 0-12 Hilltoppers are at the absolute bottom of the heap in the BCS. They are so bad that a considerable number of FCS teams are, in fact, ranked above them by ratings methodologies like Sagarin.
So we’re giving the Huskers a bonus placement, for really stretching themselves with this game.