One week away from NCAA FBS football kickoff and the air is palatable. It tastes like beer, charcoal, hamburgers, butts, ribs, and Fall! What interested person is not liking this to Christmas presents and the opening thereof?
I don't know if you feel the same way but I believe there is TV gold out there for SEC football ratings this season. It appears that the anticipation of what will transpire is greater than what your "idiot box" could ever possibly provide through millions of pixelations.
We, as college football fans, are about to bust at the seams just to get to the last page of the novel and find out what really happened to our favorite characters. However, we must patiently wait chapter through chapter, week after week, in order to see how this 2010 football book will unfold.
There are several chapters which we will bypass but I want to stop on what I think are must see TV weekends in the SEC world.
Chapter one actually puts down some great plot lines. It begins with UNC visiting LSU at the Georgia Dome for the Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff. We get to see if UNC has a defense left from NCAA infraction and if Jordan Jefferson can wield the ball with accuracy and game management. We also find out how effective that LSU offensive line performs while seeing if UNC's defense is all hype and no show.
Subplots of Chapter One include the usual suspects of who blew out what FCS team and the likes along with injuries sustained. However, a big second plot develops on Monday night of Labor Day.
Boise takes on Virginia Tech in a MNF that would put any NFL game to shame from a ratings stand point on that night. Ninety percent of the football nation is rooting for Va Tech to finally put to rest the whole non-AQ debate with BSU and the BCS Championship Game. We know where the BCS heads reside... where do you?
Back in the SEC in week two the evolution of the SEC Eastern Division leaders begin to take shape with UGA visiting South Carolina. All is riding on Murray to prove that a redshirt freshman quarterback can handle the SEC defenses. I don't even know what to say about USC at this point and the team suspensions.
How about Joe Pa and the Nittany Lions coming to Tuscaloosa for what some anticipate will be "The Glasses" last year. More than likely Penn will start a true freshman but that doesn't mean that the Lions are toast. They will play well for the old man but how well? This game also gives us a full speed Alabama offense against a quality defense. It is a must see.
Speaking of full speed offenses against quality defenses then we must mention that second week, Thursday night, Auburn at Mississippi State game. Prognosticators have the "War Cam Eagle" winning the game by leaps and bounds. Ask Mullin how he feels about that.
The third week brings back the Georgia Bulldogs for two reasons; one to see how they rebound from a loss, or two, to see if they can keep their winning streak going against what most are calling the "Mallet Express". I don't think you can put any more weight on Ryan's shoulders than what he is holding now, but we get to find out between the hedges.
The following week gives us the Razorbacks again for the exact same reasons as the UGA/Arkansas game, plus one more reason. How will the Tide's secondary perform against Mallet? If Mallet won the week before this could be the buster for the Tide.
The subplot of the fourth week includes South Carolina at Auburn to see if the Tigers can keep their winning streak alive. That is unless Clemson and the Fighting Dabos somehow pulled out the win of the century.
Week five gives us the Alabama Crimson Tide taking on the Florida Gators, at home, in what could potentially be the first of two meetings during the season. Florida has basically played a powder puff schedule up to this point and the nation wants to see what Brantley can do against a talented defense. If the Tide is undefeated this will be ratings platinum!
If the Gators pull off the win in T-Town and the Bengal Tigers have managed to be unscathed then week six cuts like a diamond. LSU goes to the Swamp and Les Miles hasn't beaten Meyer since 2007. It is do or die time for Miles.
Subplots for week six include, UT at UGA, Auburn at UK, and Bama at South Carolina. Last year we all thought that the Dawgs would pound the Vols, now we are just waiting to see payback. Same goes with Auburn and South Carolina and what they want to accomplish with their respective opponents.
Let me pause right here to say that I think there are a lot plot lines to follow within almost every SEC team. Though I will not mention them all, I may be following most of them as I must assumes the case with you.
Passing the half way mark I think week eight brings a great viewing. LSU at Auburn and Ole Miss at Arkansas.
First off LSU/Auburn gives us a knock down, drag out, battle. Tiger against Tiger. Auburn got humiliated last year in Death Valley and that was just the icing on the cake for LSU. The Tigers, Bengal, have beaten Auburn three straight years. This is going to be a "what can you do for me Cam Newton" moment and a "Chavis, lets see if last year was a fluke against Malzahn's spread".
I don't know if Arkansas has any hatred for Houston Nutt at this time but if they do it surely doesn't show. Since Nutt left he is 2-0 against his former Hogs and everyone wants to know if he can keep the mojo going. This will be a passing attack against a weird running game orchestrated by the Nutt Master.
Oh my! The Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is here! What can you say? If Georgia is going to do it they need to do it now. Meyer is not going to make it any easier. With new coaching on both defenses and new players on the UF offense many are wondering what the drop off will be for Gator play. The Dawgs are hoping it is a lot, but with a bi-week prior to the game Meyer may have his players step up a little more.
Week ten holds the now de-funked Saban Bowl. At least the name. The Tide return to Baton Rouge for what has become over the past few years a grudge match. Bodies are hurt all over the field during this game. The Tide is trying for three in row while the Tigers are just trying to collect their pride from the past two meetings.
Chapter eleven holds the The South's Oldest Rivalry, UGA at Auburn. The Dawgs have won the last four straight. The interesting thing about those games is that the last two the Tigers could have won because of Georgia's lackadaisical play. Now, we get to see who has the fire in the belly for a fifth straight win or a break of the chain. By the way, this will be the eleventh straight game for both teams.
Also in this chapter will be Steve Spurrier's swan song against Florida. Actually, there is no song, but like the Cocktail Party, if the Gamecocks are going to do it again under Spurrier then now is the time.
Can anybody say "Game management"? I can and I know you know what we are talking about. Once again the Right Reverend Nutt is looking to upset Les Miles and the LSU Tigers for the fourth straight time in week 12. Anything is possible, but this car-crash waiting to happen is what draws us to the video screen.
The subplot for week 12 is can MSU defeat Arkansas to get closer to a bowl birth.
Week 13 is your Thanksgiving Day leftover food football weekend. There is more than just one good story to follow as you stuff yourself with cranberry dressing and turkey.
First up on Friday you have the Iron Bowl. Auburn is slowly becoming separated from that thumb and finger stuff and Alabama is wanting to distance themselves from it as well. After a week off, Auburn will pull out all of the stops in the Malzahn offense and that is what everyone wants to see,...except for the 101,000 Alabama fans in Bryant Denny Stadium. They want to see defense.
Now, on Saturday, and hopefully spread out evenly, you have three more integral games.
The Egg Bowl between Mississippi State and The School Up North, as Dan Mullin refers to it, otherwise known as Ole Miss will be a back yard brawl. The last six games have been split evenly and the last two games have been an embarrassment for the losing team. This one should be a dandy.
How about Arkansas hosting LSU at War Memorial Stadium? Even though LSU rules the series they don't always rule the roost at this stadium. This game became more interesting after the 2007 McFadden-Jones overtimes in Death Valley. The last 3 games have been decided by three points or less.
Finally, and you talk about watching a train wreck, is the Kentucky at Tennessee game. This train wreck, by the way, is 25 years old! If Joker Phillips wants to become an immediate Icon, Legend, Deity, or bronze statue outside of Common Wealth Stadium he will win this game!
If Derek Dooley wants to be known as mud, he will lose this game at Neyland Stadium this year. You do realize that every one of the University of Kentucky undergraduate students have never seen the Cats beat the Vols, in football, during their lifetime? I do not know how you can not watch this game every year until the Wildcats win one.
Wow, that is a lot of reading we have to do to get to the end of the book. And there are so many twists and turns that are unforeseeable that will directly alter the outcome of the story.
But, one thing is very clear, no matter what happens during this book you will either be a joyful or tragic SEC football fan come the last page.