It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year as College Football Returns
(Sung to the tune of the holiday classic, "Sleigh Ride")
"Just hear those marching bands playing
Cheerleaders cheering too
Come on it's 90-degree August weather
Perfect to go to the stadium with you,
Outside the tailgaters are drinking
And friends are yelling out a cheer
Come on, it's football Saturday
Scream back, don't forget your beer."
Ahhh! Can you believe it? The most wonderful time of the year is upon us! You know I think that we should just rename the seasons. There's Football Fall, then Bowl Season/Playoffs (formerly known as Winter), then March Madness (aka: Spring), and (for the fellas) Bikini Season or (for the ladies) Shirtless Boy Season (summer).
THE CHALKBOARD, 2007 SEASON
Wikipedia defines Parity in sports as attempting to make an equal playing field for all participants, specifically with regard to financial issues. When parity in a sports league is achieved, all participating teams enjoy roughly equivalent levels of talent.
2007 was the year of Parity. Parity, Parity, Parity. If I heard the word used one more time last year, I was going to gnaw off my pinky toe.
Appalachian State beat Michigan, Stanford beat USC, Notre Dame only won three games, South Florida, Missouri, and Kansas were at the top of the college football polls, and Ron Zook was a good coach (no, seriously).
I ask you, the college football fan...was it parity? Or was it just a down year for college football? Were the regular college bullies, the big boys if you will, just having mediocre years, by their standards?
In the end, two powerhouse schools ended up in the National Title game anyways (alas, both backing their way into the game, and only one of the two teams predicted to have been there from the start). You be the judge.
To be continued in...
THE 2008 EDITION OF COLLEGE FOOBALL:
A breakdown of the major conferences, teams to watch for, and other story-lines to keep an eye on.
The Two Best Conferences in College Football: Big XII & SEC:
What did you think I was going to say the MAC & Conference USA?
This year the Big XII looks loaded, and thus may suffer SEC syndrome: no one escaping undefeated. Clearly as proven in the past two National Title games, toughest conference + battle tested = crystal ball.
Should any team escape from either of these conferences undefeated; not only will that team look impressive, but they will be playing in Miami on Jan. 8.
--The Big XII North may not have secured an overall league championship last year, but the division no longer resembles a cupcake anymore, as Missouri and Kansas were the best teams in the conference overall last year.
This year Missouri returns Heisman candidate Chase Daniel to lead the charge. Kansas will have to prove last year was no fluke, but faces a much tougher schedule this year. Colorado is a popular pick to be a surprise team in the North, and Nebraska will feel some rejuvenation from new head coach Bo Pelini.
In the dirty South Division, the usual suspects of Oklahoma and Texas appear. Oklahoma has been getting a lot of the preseason press, along with Texas Tech.
Is it possible Texas is flying under the radar a bit? Texas Tech could win this division if, for the first time in school history, they decide to play defense.
Looking to keep the national title in the SEC, Georgia is carrying the torch this year as the No. 1 preseason team in the polls. But a few off-the-field problems and injuries do not compliment what is looking to be the toughest schedule in the nation.
Going to Arizona State, South Carolina, LSU, and Auburn, not to mention the Cocktail Party versus Florida, is no easy task. Many predict the winner of the "neutral site" match-up will have the inside track to Miami in January.
The Gators will return Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Many predict T squared won't get the Heisman love this year because his numbers won't be as video gameishly outstanding. But if Florida is undefeated and rolling into an in-state BCS bowl game, bite your, nails Buckeye fans: Timmy could wind up with two.
Trying to disrupt the SEC East will be The Old Ballcoach's Cocks from South Carolina, and ol' Rocky Top Tennessee. I've heard a few whispers that with a brutal September (games at Auburn, and at The Swamp), if the Vols escape unscratched, they could control their own destiny.
In the SEC West, defending BCS Champion LSU will have to battle to defend their crown. With Mary Jane-lovin' QB Ryan Perrilloux kicked off the team, the Tigers' biggest question mark is at Quarterback.
Even though the West is considered the mediocre conference, Auburn, Arkansas, and Nick Saban's Crimson Tide all have a fair chance. The sexy sleeper pick in this division is Ole Miss, but Lee Corso says, "not so fast, my friend."
The Best Of The Rest:
Despite all of the big moves to get Miami and Virginia Tech to the conference, the ACC is still "down" according to most. Traditional powers Florida State (when will Bobby Bowden go?), and Miami (The U just suspended seven players)...well, they both stink.
This year Clemson, is as highly touted as they've ever been, but yet the song "What have you done for me lately?" comes to mind. Clemson is known for choking, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see them stumble right out of the gates this Saturday against Alabama.
Despite having a pretty young team, Virginia Tech still has the upper hand in what appears to be a weaker division.
Don't expect to see last year's surprise team, UCONN, at the top of the standings this year. But do expect to see Pittsburgh vault from bottom three to top three.
South Florida has an intriguing schedule, including Friday Night Football against Kansas, but ESPN predicts USF could be 8-0 to start the season.
Don't count West Virginia out just because Dick Rod and Steve Slaton are gone...Heisman hopeful Pat White will be a nice asset to the new head coach.
Finally, in week two Cincinnati has a major chance to turn some heads as they travel to Norman, Okla., to take on the Sooners.
The conference everyone loves to hate, thanks to those damn Ohio State Buckeyes always being second best. Damn that sweater vest-loving Jim Tressel anyhow.
Why did they have to go and have an soft schedule during a year where they were replacing many holes on offense? Why did they have to go and not play while Missouri and West Virginia lost, thus allowing the Buckeyes back to back National Title game appearances.
Well guess what? The Bucks are far better than last year’s team, they have the wonder boy Terrelle Pryor, a much tougher schedule, and many pundits put them...where else? The BCS title game.
But despite the fact Michigan won't be expected to be worth a hoot this year, the Big 10 is actually better than it's been in the last two years. Illinois loses leading rusher Mendenhall, but the Juice is back.
In his last year on his contract, JoePa's Nittany Lions look ready to roar and stir up some things at the top of the Big 10.
Wisconsin gets the Buckeyes in Camp Randall for a game under the lights.
Not to mention Mark Dantonio's Spartans get the Bucks at home too. Top to bottom the conference is better, but like Rodney Dangerfield "I gets no respect."
What I will tell you, may shock you. You may want to sit down....USC is predicted to win the Pac 10. This could be USC's seventh straight Pac 10 Championship.
With home games against the stiffest competition; Arizona State, Oregon, and Cal, it appears to be a no-brainer.
Sure, Stanford upset the Men of Troy at home last year, but Pete Carroll won't let his men forget that.
The most legitimate threat may lie within L.A. with Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow across town at UCLA.
The most popular picks are Air Force, Utah, BYU, and Fresno State. With games at Rutgers and UCLA, and home against the Wisconsin Badgers, Fresno State seems most poised to claim an at-large berth.
Back In The Saddle Again?
What traditional power will redeem itself in 2008? Will it be Nebraska, Florida State, Miami, or Notre Dame?
This year's Kansas?
What team will come out of left field and surprise us all? The popular picks; North Carolina, Michigan State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, and Wake Forest. But let's include Colorado, Mississippi, and Georgia Tech.
And wouldn't it be a surprise if Clemson actually did what they thought was capable of them? Let's include them too.
2008 appears to be a year where the big boys will reign supreme, and few surprises. But beware, parity lurks behind a tree, yes like it lurked behind the Stanford Cardinal tree.
Could last year's football subdivision champions take down last year's BCS champions in week one? Could Notre Dame win 11 games as Lou "Spits-alot" Holtz says they will?
Only time will tell, and the great unknown is what keeps us on the edge of our seats. The countdown to kickoff is on. Let us all rejoice and give our thanks that the most wonderful time of the year is back!
Note from the author:
With inspiration from ESPN's Pat Forde's "Forde Yard Dash" and "On The Mark" with Mark Schalbach, last year I started writing a fun college football blog/article for friends.
Every week I will review the previous week's happenings, preview the following weekend's big games, and as always welcome your input and predictions. I hope you're looking forward to this season as much as I am!
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