As hard as it is to believe, the first college football games of the season kick off on Thursday night. Hallelujah. It has been far, far too long since we have been able to enjoy the greatest sport in the world. In my world, college football is king (and the kings ride around on thoroughbred race horses). A first glance at the schedule this weekend doesn’t giveus a lot of reason to be excited, but when you give it a closer look there is lots of intrigue to be found. Here are ten games I am intrigued by this weekend:
1. UTEP (+3) at Buffalo – I like this one for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that I will be there. I’ll do a more in-depth preview on Thursday.
2. Virginia Tech (-9.5) vs. East Carolina – The Pirates played the Hokies tough last year. Virginia Tech has high hopes, but they are a team that has shown the capacity to underachieve when they don’t concentrate entirely. This could be a trap game if they aren’t careful.
3. Hawaii (+35) at Florida – This has all sorts of stories. Florida gets to see how they can deal with their Heisman success last year. They may have to deal with playing without Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes because of injuries. Hawaii has to deal with a new coach, system and quarterback. It won’t be close, but it will be interesting.
4. USC (-19.5) at Virginia – The great Trojan machine hits the ground, and we get to see if they do it running. This won’t be a total pushover, but it could be a tour de force if USC is half as good as they think they are.
5. Utah (+3.5) at Michigan – As a diehard Michigan fan I am terrified of this one. Utah has BCS aspirations and real talent. Michigan hasn’t named a starting QB or RB yet, and their o-line is a massive question mark. Michigan should be able to win, but then I said that at this time last year, and I throw up in my mouth a little every time I think of what happened.
6. Appalachian State at LSU – Les Miles is a Michigan man. I’d smile a lot if he suffered the same fate as Michigan did last year in this game. It’s a tough task for LSU to break in a new QB here.
7. Northern Iowa at BYU – BYU is pretty vocal about their desire to play with the big boys and maybe get a shot at the big prize. If they are good then they will get a chance to prove it here against a totally outmatched opponent. This one could get really, really ugly. I have my fingers crossed.
8. Eastern Washington at Texas Tech – The Red Raiders could be very good. This is nothing more than a tune-up, but like the last game it could get ugly, and that’s always fun.
9. Alabama (+5) at Clemson – Nick Saban has been more secretive than the CIA, so it is hard to know what he has done to fix the obvious problems he had last year. Clemson has high hopes this year, and I don’t believe in them at all.
10. Washington (+13.5) at Oregon – This could be Jake Locker’s coming out party. Even if it isn’t, I love the novelty of conference play this early on in the season. The Pac-10 has two gamesthis week, but this is the more interesting one.