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College Football Week 2—Get Your Televisions Ready  Share

 08 September 2010

College football fans live for days like this coming Saturday.  I had to chuckle this weekend when my wife received a Facebook status update from my cousin’s wife that said “we interrupt this marriage for another SEC football season.”  That statement is not at all far from the truth, especially on Saturdays.  My guess is that you will be able to see the United States light up a little brighter from the moon as LCD and Plasma screens across the nation will be cranked up to view this week’s action.  There are several big games, so in this article I will give you the scoop on the biggest ones in chronological order.  The numbers beside the team names are the Associated Press Rankings.  If a team does not have a number beside it, it means they are not in the top 25.

12:00pm:  No. 22 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina

This game is usually the first of the season in which two SEC (Southeastern Conference) teams play each other.  The SEC is arguably the best conference in the country as there are only a few “cupcakes,” or weak teams, in the conference.  Also three out of the last four national champions have been from the SEC.  This game is usually a low scoring affair, but last year the teams combined for 78 points in a close Georgia victory.  Look for this one to be another close one as Georgia’s freshman quarterback, Aaron Murray, will have to show what he is made of in front of 80,000 angry South Carolina fans.  Georgia fans especially loathe South Carolina because their coach, Steve Spurrier, previously coached the Florida Gators, Georgia’s biggest rival.  Spurrier habitually beat the Bulldogs when he was the coach of the Gators, so Bulldog fans see it as a bit of sweet revenge anytime they can hand him a loss now that he is with the South Carolina Gamecocks.  My heart tells me that Georgia will pull this one out, but my head tells me that it’s going to be a nail-biter.

3:30pm:  No. 17 Florida State at No. 10 Oklahoma

These two teams are not in the same conference, so they rarely meet.  Florida State was a great program in the 1990s, but has slipped into mediocrity in the last decade.  Their coach for years, Bobby Bowden, finally retired last year and turned over the coaching duties reluctantly to his offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher.  Yes, he likes to be called Jimbo.  And yes, he is from West Virginia.  Oklahoma has been a consistently good team over the past several years.  Oklahoma struggled last week in their win against lowly Utah State, but something tells me that they are going to get their act together this week.  Look for Oklahoma to emerge the victor in a high scoring affair.

3:40pm:  No. 12 Miami (Florida) at No. 2 Ohio State

This happens every year.  Ohio State starts out the season ranked really high, and then they lose once they have to face a quality opponent.  This game is another one featuring teams that are not in the same conference.  Why do teams schedule tough games for out of conference contests when they know they might lose?  It’s complicated, but the bottom line is that you have to have a few “quality” wins at the end of the year for the folks that vote in the polls to rank you high enough to be considered for the national championship (see my diatribe on Boise State at the end of this column).  Ohio State plays in the Big 10 conference and there usually aren’t as many powerhouse teams as in other conferences like the Big 12 or SEC (by the way, football fans love to argue about which conference is the “best.”  The argument usually devolves into a lot of tomfoolery…think about two eight year old boys arguing over whether a Ferrari or Porsche is “cooler” and you have a good idea of what those arguments devolve into).  Ohio State is a 10 point favorite, but I’m not buying it.  Miami is my upset special this week.

Good one-liner:  “I will take Miami and the ten points—Ohio State is not going to be able to keep Miami off the scoreboard” (quote references the powerful Miami offense and the fact that oddsmakers have Ohio State a 10 point favorite).

7:00pm:  No. 18 Penn State at No. 1 Alabama

Anytime the number 1 team in the country plays another ranked opponent, it is a big deal.  In yet another huge match-up featuring teams from different conferences, this Saturday night game should be a good one.  Penn State’s coach, Joe Paterno, has been the head coach there since before the light bulb was invented.  Alabama may still be without their star running back and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram, who is battling a knee injury.  Penn State is starting a true freshman at quarterback, Robert Bolden.  He looked good last week, but last week’s opponent Youngstown State is no Alabama.  Freshmen tend to get rattled when they are on the road facing a great defense.  Everyone is excited about this match up since it will be Saturday night in “prime time,” but I don’t think it will be close.  Look for Alabama to roll over Penn State.

As you can see, the network geniuses have spread these games from noon to nighttime on Saturday in an effort to enslave college football fans to their television sets.  I will be one of them and chances are, so will be someone you work with, are friends with, or even cohabitate with.  So if you aren’t a college football fan, be festive this weekend and enjoy the atmosphere.  Your sports guy friends, coworkers, or significant others will appreciate it.  For them, Saturday is like Christmas in September.  You’ll likely get them back around 9-10pm on Sunday evening as the NFL games wind down.

Oh yeah, one more thing that I alluded to earlier—the “rankings,” or as it is formally known, the Associated Press College Football Poll, has Boise State as the #3 team in the country this week after their victory on Monday night over Virginia Tech.  Most fans from big conferences will be furious.  Why?  Typically the #1 and #2 teams in the AP poll will play each other for the national championship (again, it’s more complicated than that, but I’ll save you the nitpicking details).  Since Boise State plays a “soft” schedule in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), they are likely to go undefeated the rest of the season.  They are 73-4 against their conference opponents since 2000.  It is very difficult for an SEC or Big 12 team to go undefeated because of the quality of the opponents in their conference.  So the fear that these fans have is that an undefeated Boise State team would be selected to play in the national championship game over an SEC or Big 12 team that has one loss.  Virginia Tech is a quality team, but they are not an elite team by any means.  This debate will rage on virtually every week that Boise State stays atop the polls, which will likely be most weeks.  Another reason to dislike Boise State?  They have blue artificial turf on the field at their football stadium.  Seriously, who thinks blue artificial turf is cool?

Good one-liner:  “If I have to watch Boise State in a national championship game this year, I’m going to be upset.”   

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