OK we can finally start talking about college football….alright I can start talking about college football. Preview magazines are coming out. I ordered the Phil Steele one (which isn’t cheap) but it seems that there are very few places that sell a good compliment of sports magazines anymore. Since I will be getting my Phil Steele magazine in late June I might just stick with that one and to hell with the rest. I mean other than pictures of cheerleaders and nicer colours on the pages in general, what is in a Lindy’s preview that isn’t in the Bible of College Football Preview Mags? Nothing, that’s what. Anyway where was I?
Oh yeah, I’m going to start getting back into college football posts. A little earlier than usual but I figured what the hell might as well! I get most of the game information (network and time) wrong after September anyway so what does it truly matter? OK every so often I do get it right and it’s not like I am putting that hot Vanderbilt-Missouri matchup as the SEC Game of the Week on CBS but it’s a lot tougher as the season wears on to figure out who’s good and who isn’t (since that’s all that matters when figuring out when a game will air and on what network).
Also, just so you know, some of the broadcast info my change between now and the time I do my network-specific posts. And I understand that. Bear with me. Or don’t. I don’t care.
A little bit of a change this time around. I will list the top 5 games (instead of 6) every week. There will be some honourable mention games (usually 5) and then I will list the worst game I believe we will be able to get in this country every week. And no, I am not including games that can be received if you have got a Slingbox and are able to illegally get ESPN because you put an American zip code and somehow snagged an American credit card on top of that. No dice. Doesn’t count. Trying to stay legitimate here (or as legit as I can possibly be).
First off, let’s look at the week rankings. Usually they turn out the same way from year-to-year with little variation. Here are the rankings followed with some follow-up notes (remember, I list the week and the date that corresponds to the Saturday of that week):
- Week 13 (November 25 – American Thanksgiving)
- Week 11 (November 11)
- Week 10 (November 4)
- Week 8 (October 21)
- Week 7 (October 14)
- Week 2 (September 9)
- Week 6 (October 7)
- Week 3 (September 16)
- Week 1 (September 2)
- Week 9 (October 28)
- Week 4 (September 23)
- Week 5 (September 30)
- Week 12 (November 18)
Just like last year, the hype surrounding Week 1 is for the few best games. After that it falls off a cliff (like almost every opening week of every college football season). American Thanksgiving weekend has again ascended to the top of the rankings after a one-year sabbatical. It’s amazing how three of the four weekends in November constitute the top three weeks of the season and the other week is the worst. Then again, that’s the SEC’s Bathroom Break Week (I sincerely hope ESPN markets it as such) where they play some awesome FCS “foes.” It’s my wish every year that a top team blows a gasket and loses one of these games and it costs them a big bowl payout. Two of the five weeks in September also highlight the bottom three and that’s also the norm. And yes I know there is a Week Zero but I will include that in Week One’s matchups since all those matchups are sub-par and are only there to get us back watching college football before September rolls around and I am all for that thank you very much. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK then…
Here we go with the weekly breakdowns. Yes some of the American times and networks have been established but without any insight into what will show on TSN, I will refrain from saying anything is confirmed at this point.
Alabama vs. Florida State (in Atlanta) (8:00, ABC/TSN2) – One of the games of the year and we get it during the first ABC primetime game of the season. Nice. Unfortunately for the Noles, this has a feel of last year’s Bama/USC game. Many felt the Trojans would give the Tide a run and it never happened and the Fighting Evil Sabans won going away. Until otherwise, I will take any idea that FSU will make this a game and perhaps win with a grain of salt.
Florida vs. Michigan (in Arlington) (3:30, ABC/TSN2) – Two exciting teams from last season face off for the season opener. OK scratch that: one relatively boring, but effective team (Florida) faces a more exciting team with an insane head coach (Michigan). Yeah, that sounds better. I honestly think this will end up being one of the more exciting games of the week.
Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech (in Atlanta) (Monday, 8:00, specialty pack) – And here we go with all the neutral-site games with many of them being as neutral-site as the Buffalo Bills playing the Los Angeles Rams in Syracuse. Cue the “Tennessee for SEC East Champs” rhetoric as Butch Jones tries to keep himself out of the weird spot that’s not quite great coach and not quite hot seat.
BYU vs. LSU (in Houston) (9:30, TSN1) – ESPN going with the three and three-and-a-quarter hour windows again. Why? WHY?????? They should just start games at 11 in the morning and do 4-hour windows all day. Yeah that’s the ticket. And I’d still stay up until 2 in the morning (or so) to watch games. Anyway where was I? Oh yes, BYU and LSU. I don’t know why they are in Houston for this one. But at least this is truly neutral-site. You can almost consider this a statement game early on as the loser receives the statement “Not good enough for the New Year’s Six” carved in granite.
Texas A&M at UCLA (Sunday, 7:30, FOX) – College football, after last year’s ND-Texas extravaganza, realizes that Sunday football on opening weekend is a must-do from now on. So now we get multiple games that day highlighted by this one. Two teams who need to bounce back from off years, the Bruins more so than the Aggies. Will be interesting to see how The Rosen One comes back after a difficult season in 2016. Also, this qualifies as the best non-neutral-site game of the week.
Honourable mention: Ohio State at Indiana (Thursday, 8:00, specialty pack), Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia (in Landover) (Sunday, 7:30, ABC), NC State vs. South Carolina (in Charlotte) (3:00, specialty pack), Western Michigan at USC (10:30, FOX Sports Fucking One…here we go again), Tulsa at Oklahoma State (Noon, FOX Sports One again…dammit).
Worst televised game of the week: Alabama A&M at UAB (6:00, beIn Sports) – Let’s be honest: beIn Sports is just dipping its toe into the college football pond with broadcasting Conference USA games. And this is the week they are stuck with a raw deal. Yes, it’s UAB’s return after a short sabbatical from football altogether. But this is just so awful. I don’t get beIn Sports so I don’t care to be honest but some of you do (and a lot of you can get the channel). Avoid this one unless it’s really close with less than 30 seconds to go.
Oklahoma at Ohio State (7:30, ABC) – Yes it’s not the same 8:00 starting time. The Big Ten is getting an exemption from this to push games up to 7:30 instead. I mean these games are never over before 11:30 anyway so half-an-hour is huge for those teams. This is another potential game of the season. Last year, Ohio State blew Boomer Sooner out of the water and it was in Norman. Saying that, I can see this one being a lot closer but still quite high scoring.
Auburn at Clemson (3:30, ABC) – It feels like these two teams face each other every season for some reason. Clemson, coming off their national championship, gets a cupcake to start their season and then this. This will be the early sign whether they are ready to repeat or not. As for Auburn, they are hoping to just get on the GUS BUS and get a huge road victory so that they can already keep pace in the SEC West.
Stanford at USC (8:00, FOX) – It will be very interesting to see what a Christian McCaffrey-less Cardinal can do. I mean it is David Shaw coaching them so we know they will still be a very good team but it’s a question lingering on everyone’s minds. Sam Darnold starts his Heisman and #1 Overall Draft Pick campaign during this game.
Pittsburgh at Penn State (4:30, FOX) – And thus begins the era of the B1G on FOX (and I know that the logo will contain something along those lines). Pitt is still considered a team that can do damage in the ACC Division-that-Clemson-Louisville-and-Florida-State-Aren’t-In despite the fact they lost Nathan Peterman and James Conner. Penn State will be trying to go undefeated and get to the National Championship and the possibility is there with Trace McSorley under centre.
Georgia at Notre Dame (7:30, NBC) – OK before you get on my case for this choice, hear me out. I am under the assumption that the Irish cannot be as bad as last season. I am also under the assumption that the Dawgs will finally find their legs under Kirby Smart. Assuming those two assumptions are correct (Assume-ception!) then this becomes a tasty, early-season, primetime affair. And hey, we might get Mike Tirico to call the games. I mean he’s not the greatest but has to be an improvement on Dan Hicks (who himself was an improvement on Tom Hammond).
Honourable mention: Louisville at North Carolina (Noon, ABC/TSN3), Boise State at Washington State (2:00, Pac-12 Network which we may get soon enough), TCU at Arkansas (7:00, specialty pack), Nebraska at Oregon (10:30, TSN3), Utah at BYU (10:15, TSN1).
Worst televised game of the week: Southern at Southern Miss (6:00, beIn Sports) – OK this isn’t a trend. It is more a matter of many teams loading up on FCS games early on in the season. There are only so many games to go around for Conference USA with CBS Sports Network and ESPNEWS getting a few as well during the season. I do believe C-USA will show up again in this section but not all the time…despite the fact they have slowly slipped to almost the worst FBS conference.
Miami at Florida State (8:00, ABC) – If Miami is the real deal and FSU pulls off the upset of the Tide in Week 1, this game could have National Championship implications all over it. Saying that, it is still a big deal and one of the games of the week and is the earliest big ACC game of the season (along with the next game on this list). Big stuff. And in primetime as I see ABC is back to getting the best games of the week again (for now).
Clemson at Louisville (3:30, ABC) – If you don’t think the Canes-Noles game is the GOTW, then maybe this will float your boat. Last year’s game in Clemson was a classic ended by a complete brainfart on the part of a Louisville receiver. This year, the game moves to Papa John’s so it is not a guarantee that Clemson will get the W here. Man, they have a rough early season schedule.
Texas at USC (8:00, FOX) – FOX has announced that they have this game and it’s all but guaranteed to go to primetime. The network better hope Texas FINALLY lives up to preseason hype and looks good going into this game. Speaking of tough schedules, USC has this game after Western Michigan and Stanford. Yikes.
Tennessee at Florida (3:30, CBS) – Rocky Top heads to the Swamp (sorry, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the Steve Spurrier Swamp…is that right? Talk about wordy). Could this be the de facto SEC East Championship so early in the season? Of course not. Both of these teams will fuck up royally during the season. It’s a tradition. Saying that, the winner here gets a leg up on the rest of the SEC competition which really has no true weak spots (if Missouri improves and Vandy doesn’t regress).
LSU at Mississippi State (7:00, specialty pack) – Yes this doesn’t seem to compare with the other fifth-best games on the list so far. But after this, there are at least 10 other games that could slot in here. So no massive games but a lot of depth this week (which a lot of times makes for a great week of viewing). Anyway, LSU HAS to win games like these. Even if it’s just for Ed Orgeron’s job security. He had a pretty good run last year when he stepped in for Les Miles so the Tigers are hoping for more of the same. Speaking of hot seats, one of the big ones has Dan Mullen sitting squarely on it. Two years removed from Dak Prescott and a #1 ranking in the polls, he may be gone if he can’t again produce a decent team (which in the SEC West is like 8-4).
Honourable mention: Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh (3:30, specialty pack), Colorado State at Alabama (7:00, specialty pack), Wisconsin at BYU (10:15, specialty pack), Stanford at San Diego State (10:30, CBS Sports Network), UCLA at Memphis (Noon, specialty pack).
Worst televised game of the week: Morgan State at Rutgers (Noon, BTN) – So far we have three games involving FCS teams. Not surprising. But this is a Power Five team (technically). Rutgers is such a dumpster fire that I can honestly see this being close so maybe you should watch it (if you get the Big Ten Network that is).
Alright, done the first three weeks. Don’t want to overload you all at once (or burn myself out either). Trying to determine if I should do this in the normal four posts or five. I will keep you posted (no pun intended).