The college football season gets going in earnest today with a whole plate of games. Some of them are ridiculously easy (Charleston Southern?!?! I’ll never understand why Florida doesn’t get more grief for their brutal non-conference scheduling), but there are more than a few that will have my attention today. Here, in chronological order, is a look at some of the highlights:
Minnesota (-7) at Syracuse – How can you not be at least a little curious to see what Greg Paulus can do at quarterback. Minnesota is my wife’s favorite team (based entirely on mascots – she has a thing for the gopher), so I have to pay attention on that front, too.
Western Kentucky (+29.5) at Tennessee – Every Tennessee game is going to be worth keeping an eye on this year because Lane Kiffin is as capable as anyone on the planet of doing something truly insane.
Nevada (+14.5) at Notre Dame – I like Nevada. I hate everything about Notre Dame. Not hard to figure where my loyalties will lie here. I would love nothing more than to see the Irish get a scare here. Actually, there is one thing I would love more – to see them get beat.
Baylor (+2.5) at Wake Forest – The season debut of the Robert Griffin show. Is he going to be a breakout star or just another overhyped player on a marginal team? The Deacs will test him well on defense.
Georgia (+5) at Oklahoma State – What is there not to like about this one? I find it hard to believe that Georgia can keep up, but it will be interesting to see. It’s certainly a gem – top teams with contrasting styles rarely disappoint.
San Jose State (+33) at Southern California – This one is an obvious mismatch, but it still has more than a little intrigue. SJSU coach Dick Tomey has been around the block a time or 20, and he certainly knows his stuff, so he will do everything he possibly can to make life miserable for true freshman Matt Barkley. Should be fun.
Western Michigan (+13) at Michigan – I throw up in my mouth a little every time I think about this one. I love Michigan more than almost anything, and I am desperate for a good season. I’m also a perennial optimist, so I have high hopes. I’m alert enough to realize that those hopes aren’t justified by recent history, though. Can Tate Forcier step up as a true freshman? Can our secondary overcome a terrifying lack of depth? Do we have a running game? Will the pain ever stop?
Middle Tennessee State (+18.5) at Clemson – This line seems hopelessly optimistic for Clemson to me. MTSU has an offense that could be very good, and Clemson has questions, big questions, on both sides of the ball. Clemson is one of the least trustworthy teams out there, so is this a new era under Dabo Swinney, or am I justifiably skeptical?
BYU (+21.5) at Oklahoma – How much does the new Oklahoma offense resemble the old one? And how insulted is BYU by this line? This one could be amazing – as long as you don’t like defense.
Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Alabama – I have never particularly liked the Hokies, and think they are very over-ranked this year, but I’ll be enthusiastically cheering for them tonight. Nick Saban is pretty much everything that is wrong with college football, and his success makes me ill.
Buffalo (+9.5) at UTEP – I was at this game last year in Buffalo, so I’m a bit sentimental for the rematch in El Paso.
Central Michigan (+13.5) at Arizona – This is a good measuring stick to see if Coach Stoops is finally making any lasting progress. It’s also a chance to see Dan LeFevour play. I’ll be cherishing those chances this year because he’s a senior. The guy is special, and he’s finally healthy.
LSU (-17.5) at Washington – LSU has to prove to me that they deserve their high ranking – they sure didn’t play like the ninth best team in the country last year. Jake Locker has one more chance to prove that he is worthy of the hype, and Washington gets to start rebuilding from the predictably disastrous Ty Willingham era. Lots of storylines here.