I had eschewed writing this piece for this season for a handful of reasons, but the main reason is that I am trying to cut down on my channel surfing. Over the last few years, my attempts to watch a meaningful number of plays for several games has led to me watching few meaningful plays for most games. It is just too hard to switch back and forth between two or three games.
So, this season I am made an adjustment to my viewing habits. I pick a game and watch it unless: (a) it ceases being competitive, (b) it is so boring I cannot stand it, or (c) another game at that time slot has become more compelling. Initially, that change in though seemed to fly directly in the face of this post. But, then again, there is no reason you have to follow that system.
So, here is what is on tap for this weekend.
Thursday, September 23
(19)Miami at Pittsburgh
This is the first national-level Thursday night game of the season. Neither team played last weekend. Miami was still licking their (self-inflicted) wounds and Pittsburgh continued resting up after beating normally venerable FCS New Hampshire. Is either one of these teams any good? Many pundits have them both as the preseason favorite to win their respective conference. One of them will leave with two losses.
Saturday, September 25
As usual, this time slot is horrific. This totally sucks. It makes me angry to look at the listings, but I should just get over it.
N.C. State v. Georgia Tech
I know what you are thinking: “Is this really your main game?” Yep. And, it is not even close. Think of it this way. It a rare opportunity to (1) see NC State actually play on Saturday and (2) watch Georgia Tech’s antique offense. But for their inexplicable loss to the Kansas, Georgia Tech would be widely regarded as the ACC Champion in waiting. Instead, you consider watching the m the best of horrible options. Thanks, Jayhawks.
Bowling Green v. (21)Michigan
12:00, Big Ten Network
This game is never going to satisfy the third requirement above, but you still a safety net in case of ‘a’ or ‘b’. I know Michigan is a 4-touchdown favorite, but that is probably what the odds makers would have pegged last weekend’s game against Massachusetts. If nothing else, you can scout the maize and blue.
Predictably, an overloaded mid-afternoon slot makes up for the early deficiencies. Moving on. Here are your 3:30pm coverage maps. One nice thing about this weekend is the weird mirroring procedure used by ABC and ESPN does not really effect you as the games are not that compelling.
Eastern Michigan v. (2)Ohio State
The obvious main game, but it is not without distraction as there are at least three other intriguing games on in this time slot. And, at the risk of alienating anyone that actually still reads this blog, you could simply TiVo this game and watch it in fast-forward. You won’t, but you could. This game could easily satisfy all three elements above, necessitating a flip to…
(1)Alabama v. (10)Arkansas
From a pure viewer’s guide perspective, this is the game you should be watching. At the very least, you need to be quick to change once Ohio State hits 35 points in the first quarter. Interestingly, Arkansas and Bama played this very same week last fall after the Hogs had played Georgia. In 2009, though, Arkansas looked good against Georgia but they could not finish it in the fourth. Last year, lots of folks were calling for the trendy upset pick but that game was decidedly in Bama’s favor.
(16)Stanford v. Notre Dame
Listing this game seems to be a blatant violation of the protocol listed at the outset, but if you think about it the Ohio State game may only be watchable for 30 minutes. This game, however, may be extremely entertaining, with both teams are averaging more than 450 yards of offense.
(8)Oklahoma v. Cincinnati
This is a nice stop-gap game that will take you from the end of the afternoon games gently into the evening’s maelstrom. Of course, this game will likely be out of hand by the time you turn it on but you have to give the Sooners credit as they have played one of the top non-conference schedules in the country.
(12)South Carolina v. (17)Auburn
Best case scenario: this is a preview of the SEC Championship game. Realistically, however, the Gamecocks need to focus on one game at time with Alabama in two weeks, with Arkansas, Tennessee, at Florida, and at Clemson to deal with. Auburn has already been through the ringer a couple of times – at Mississippi State and Clemson – which is a huge positive and negative. I think it is safe to say this will be the hardest hitting of the season.
(24)Oregon State v. (3)Boise State
There are two schools of thought on Boise State: Hope they run the table and play Ohio State in the BCSCG or lose already so we can stop talking about them. Put me in the latter category. Watching Ohio State win the MNC will be sweet no matter what, but I would be lying to you if I told you did not want to see OSU square off against Alabama should they be lucky enough to make it to the title game.
(22)West Virginia v. (15)LSU
I am not sure why West Virginia is ranked. I am not sure why the Mountaineers are only a 8.5-point underdog. I am not sure why this game is listed as a possible flipper. I will be surprised if this game is close when the other games end.
(5)Oregon v. Arizona State
The Pac 10 took a big step forward last week and even in defeat ASU earned a lot of kudos. The cream of the Pac 10 always seems to have an early season gaffe, so do not be shocked if the Ducks lay an egg in this one.