OK not really back…yet. But at least I can start posting about it. Schedules are out (at least for what days games are on…for the most part). FBSchedules has released their popular (to me at least) helmet schedules. And preview mags are finally starting to trickle out. I am going with the digital version of the Phil Steele magazine this year since I don’t feel like waiting at least another six weeks for the physical version to arrive. Also hoping to pick up Athlon, Lindy’s and Street & Smith’s if I can over the next couple weeks. So yeah, I can start thinking about college football at least and not be sad that it’s eight months away. I mean it’s still four months away but that will go quickly, no?
I figured I might as well put at least one post up in May before it ends. Better late than never right? I am sure I will get some of these right (as I always do) but many of them wrong (like I always do). At least most of the wrong ones I can explain away. I mean if the SEC on CBS shows Vandy-Tennessee for the final week of the regular season rather than the Iron Bowl, one of two things has happened:
- Both Vandy and Tennessee are a whole lot better than anyone thought, or
- Both Bama and Auburn are a whole lot worse than everyone thought.
So no I will not put Vandy-UT as the final SEC on CBS regular season game. I feel safe with that choice.
Disclaimer: Just so you know, some of the broadcast info may 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.
Another change from last year’s list. Here is how the list of games for each week will be structured:
- Game of the Week – This is my opinion of the game of the week. It may differ from your opinion. That is OK. Because the next part is…
- Other Really Important Games – See? One of these games might be your game of the week choice.
- Sneaky-Good Underrated Game – Some games are underrated. I will try to find one each week that could fulfill that criterion.
- Best Group of Five Game – Pretty self-explanatory but has to have TWO G5 teams involved.
- Worst Power Five Game – Just like above, except the opposite (with two P5 teams involved).
The “Other Really Important Games” section is the one section where the number of games I include may vary. In some weeks you will only see one or two. Others there may be like seven. We pretty much know which weeks will have better games and which ones won’t so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Let us commence with the week rankings. This is almost the same every year so it should come as no surprise. Rankings followed by insightful banter (remember, I list the week and the date that corresponds to the Saturday of that week):
- Week 11 (November 10)
- Week 13 (November 24 – American Thanksgiving)
- Week 10 (November 3)
- Week 6 (October 6)
- Week 7 (October 13)
- Week 5 (September 29)
- Week 4 (September 22)
- Week 9 (October 27)
- Week 3 (September 15)
- Week 8 (October 20)
- Week 1 (September 1)
- Week 12 (November 17)
- Week 2 (September 8)
Week 1 is not nearly as good as it was last season. Not saying there aren’t some good games but there is a LOT of non-conference fluff in there. I mean it’s Week 1 so I will be hyped as fuck for it but, in the grand scheme of things, it is close to the bottom in terms of quality. American Thanksgiving weekend has again been usurped at the top for the second time in three years. This time it is Week 11 which is completely rammed with big games. Here is hoping I have a full day to watch as much as possible As per usual, November has the three top weeks and one of the worst. SEC Shitbreak Week is not the worst week though this season. That honour belongs to Week 2 (or should I say WEAK 2 ahahahahahahaha OK I’ll stop). And of course Week Zero is a complete waste in terms of quality but it’s the first games of the year. So I am fully prepared to believe that I will see the ESPN games that weekend and be shut out and then find out that no, Bell doesn’t start airing games until Week 1 officially starts. Which will then piss me off. Same roller coaster as last year. Alright so no surprises. Correct? Let’s move on.
Weekly breakdown time! The first few weeks are somewhat set in terms of American networks with some weekday games throughout the season also set. Twitter user @CamPeverley has insight into the possible TSN college football schedule so I want to thank him for that as it allows me to put a bit more thought into what games will appear on TSN this season. Here we go!
Game of the Week: Auburn vs. Washington (in Atlanta) (3:30, ABC) – You have to wonder if this game was not put on in primetime so as not to have to go up against Michigan-Notre Dame in the same timeslot. Either way, I believe this is the true game of the week for Week 1 and a massive matchup. Not saying a loss here destroys either team’s chances but a win will definitely go a long way to setting the tone and being considered a College Football Playoff contender.
Other Really Important Games: Michigan at Notre Dame (7:30, NBC) – Regardless of how either team is doing, this game is always considered a must-watch. It also makes it tough for other networks to go up against this game since it’s usually a ratings hit. It’s almost a guarantee that both the Wolverines and Fighting Irish will not be great teams this season. When was the last time that actually happened? (Note: actually it was 2015. Why does that seem so long ago?). A good start is imperative for both, especially Brian Kelly who is on a massive hot seat to start 2018.
LSU vs. Miami (in Arlington) (Sunday, 7:30, ABC/TSN3) – Is Miami back? Will Ed Orgeron be fired before the end of the season? Expect these two questions to be asked about 6,000 times during this telecast. At least this neutral-site game is pretty neutral even though LSU is a lot closer than Miami.
Alabama vs. Louisville (in Orlando) (8:00, ABC/TSN2) – If it wasn’t Bama in this spot, there is no way it gets the ABC primetime slot. Then again, a chance for ESPN to put Bama on ABC only happens once a year (usually) so they have to take it when they can get it. I would love to see the Fighting Petrinos keep this close but without Lamar Jackson I don’t know if they can.
Virginia Tech at Florida State (Monday, 8:00, specialty pack) – The traditional opening Monday ACC matchup pits the Hokies against a team whose fanbase doesn’t seem to like me, Florida State. The Noles looking to bounce back and could end up being one of the most improved teams of the year after last year’s odd 7-6 season. And after the first four games on this list appeared on network television, this is the first game to go to the specialty pack. Hopefully we never have to live the debacle of three years ago when this game ended up not airing due to TSN screwing up (or was it the telcos? Don’t remember).
Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma (4:30, FOX) – All aboard the Lane Train! Choo-choo motherfuckers! This could be a VERY interesting matchup if the Owls can somehow pull off the upset (or at least scare the Sooners). See these are the games that are troublesome for the powers of college football: win and you were kind of supposed to do so. Win by a little and may start to doubt your chances. Lose and you’re eliminated from everything (according to the media and many fans). It’s almost a lose-lose-lose situation.
Sneaky-Good Underrated Game: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech (in Houston) (9:30, specialty pack) – The Rebels won’t be playing in a bowl game yet again due to sanctions against the program. They could end up being a team that does very well and shakes up the rankings a lot. Kute Kliff Kingsbury may be on his last legs in Lubbock. A win here could cool down the flames of a scorching-hot seat that he’s on.
Best Group of Five Game: Boise State at Troy (3:45, specialty pack) – This is an easy choice and nothing else is even close (I would say UCF-UConn is the next best G5 game). Two of the G5 New Year’s Six contenders face off in what should be a nationally-televised game. Nice to see since we rarely get Saturday Sun Belt games at all or Mountain West games in the afternoon.
Worst Power Five Game: Oregon State at Ohio State (Noon, ABC) – The OSU Bowl follows one of the best games of the week. Odd. But then again there aren’t many games to choose from. Even in this slot there was this, UNC-Cal and Maryland-Texas to choose from. I selected this game because I am sure it will be a blowout (although it will be intriguing to see if tOSU can get to 60+ points).
Game of the Week: Clemson at Texas A&M (7:00, specialty pack) – This is the worst week of the college football season but it at least has a decent GOTW. Not quite a season-changing game but still good. Clemson is still considered a favourite to win the national championship this season so here’s to hoping this ends up being closer than it looks like it will be, at least on paper.
Other Really Important Games: USC at Stanford (3:30, ABC) – VERY early Pac-12 shit-test game. Winner instantly becomes the big Pac-12 CFP contender who will eventually fail and everyone will then crap all over the Pac-12. Loser may not even win their division. I am hoping there are more Pac-12 games on in the afternoon timeslot since I do feel their pain when it comes to late-night scheduling. It’s funny that even up until 2012, Pac-12 After Dark (and Late Night with Mountain West) wasn’t a thing. Now it fully is, keeping me up until the wee hours of the morning and making Sundays sometimes not feel so good.
Georgia at South Carolina (3:30, CBS) – South Carolina, I believe, will be a lot better than many people think. And Georgia is Georgia. An upset here could kill any chances of a repeat SEC championship for the Dawgs and could propel the Gamecocks, yet again, to a really good yet somewhat unsatisfying season.
UCLA at Oklahoma (8:30, FOX) – Is UCLA great again? I don’t know but with Chip Kelly there it should be a ton of fun to watch the Bruins. Oklahoma having a pretty brutal first two weeks of the schedule that is for sure; however, win them both and they make a good early case to be at the top of the rankings.
Sneaky-Good Underrated Game: Duke at Northwestern (Noon, specialty pack) – See what I mean? After Bruins-Sooners, the game quality kind of falls off a cliff. It was either this or Cy-Hawk for this category but am going with the Academic Bowl. Northwestern always seems to be on the precipice of something really good in the Big Ten only to somehow be derailed by either a very good team (Wisconsin last year for example) or a team that they probably should have beat and get upset by (think Illinois or Minnesota). Duke should be back into the second-tier of the ACC as opposed to the bottom tier where they used to camp out for years on end. I can see this game being very close and at least should be aesthetically pleasing as Ryan Field is just a nice stadium to watch a football game (on TV at least).
Best Group of Five Game: Memphis at Navy (3:30, CBSSN) – Expect the American and Mountain West conferences to make up most of these games. Navy probably won’t be quite as good as they have been in recent years but the Tigers are still a strong team that might, yet again, contend for the AAC crown. Plus, games at Navy are fun to watch.
Worst Power Five Game: Colorado at Nebraska (Noon, FOX) – FOX gets a shitty game to pair off with a good one. Well kind of. Shitty in a P5 sense. I would love to see one of, if not both of, these teams return to past glory. College football is inherently better when one of Nebraska or Colorado are good. Then again, I would love a return of the Big Eight and that won’t happen either. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Game of the Week: LSU at Auburn (3:30, CBS) – This could potentially have national championship implications. It is, in my very honest opinion, just a hair above the next couple games on this list. But you could easily switch them in and out and no one would notice. This is the true return of the SEC on CBS (since Week 2 is a game they would have to sublicense from ESPN).
Other Really Important Games: Ohio State vs. TCU (in Arlington) (8:00, ABC) – If you don’t think the Tiger Bowl is the GOTW, then maybe it’s this one One of approximately 347 neutral-site games held at JerryWorld this season. It should be a relatively partisan crowd but Ohio State fans travel well. Should be a good atmosphere. Also, watch out for TCU being a potential dark horse contender if they can pull out the win here.
Alabama at Ole Miss (7:00, specialty pack) – If Ole Miss is as improved as many say they will be, then this could be a barnburner. We all know how Bama struggles with the Rebs and how Ole Miss gets up for the Tide game every season. It really is a toss-up between this one and LSU-Auburn as to who will appear on CBS but I have a feeling this one will go here partially because of the limit of 5 appearances on the SEC on CBS in one season (excluding the SEC Championship).
Washington at Utah (10:30, specialty pack) – Talk about your big early-season doubleheader. This game will probably follow Bama-Ole Miss. Not often throughout a college football season do we get two huge conference games back-to-back on the same network. The Huskies have to worry about a team on the cusp of Pac-12 greatness in Utah and the MUSS, arguably the loudest student section in college football.
USC at Texas (8:30, FOX) – Is Texas back? Good lord I am honestly getting sick of that question. Part of me hopes they are so every college football media member will stop fucking asking that. USC will be good I’m sure. Which is good since I am sure the media would be all over that like they were after coming off that one mediocre season a few years back. Oh well I shouldn’t complain. It’s college football and we should get peak GUS JOHNSON during this one.
Boise State at Oklahoma State (Friday, 7:00, TSN2) – An important Friday night game! Nice! The weekday night games are usually a bunch of hit-and-miss. Some games are close, others are blowouts. Not too often do you have a game that seems super important from the start. More often than not it’s an upset that causes a huge shift in the rankings (think Syracuse over Clemson followed by Cal over Wazzu on the same October Friday night last season). I wouldn’t consider Boise winning to be a huge upset in this one. What I would consider it is Boise’s intent to seriously challenge for a College Football Playoff spot and Mike Gundy’s mullet to still be fantastic.
Sneaky-Good Underrated Game: West Virginia at NC State (3:30, specialty pack) – Two teams that are usually underrated (somewhat) meet in this pretty important early-season game. The implications are a little different since here the team that loses is probably done for the CFP and probably even the NY6. We shall see if we get peak Drunk Uncle Dana in this one. I would say that being in the mid-afternoon gives us a better shot at that but honestly, time doesn’t matter to Mr. Holgorsen.
Best Group of Five Game: Southern Miss at Appalachian State (7:00, ESPN3) – To be honest, the early season doesn’t usually give us a bunch of good G5-on-G5 violence. We kind of luck out the first two weeks but this is where it comes to a crashing halt. We probably won’t even get this game in Canada to be honest. I would say that sucks but I am still pushing for FOX Sports One games so ESPN3 games are currently WAY down the list of wants.
Worst Power Five Game: Rutgers at Kansas (Noon, FS1) – OK remember what I said about FOX Sports One…
The first three weeks are complete. Don’t want to put everything in all at once. As per usual I have broken this into four separate posts for your reading pleasure. College football is on the horizon again, folks!