God I wish. Can you even fucking imagine how popular this would be? I mean I only have a PS3 right now but would run out IMMEDIATELY to get a new system if EA Sports was putting out a new college football game. I hear rumblings that another company is going to put out a game without licensing. I don’t know how well that would work but hey, it’s something at this point, right?
So now I feel like a big dummy. I could have waited a few days but noooooooooo I just had to jump the gun and post the first of this series of most important games of the season. So what happens yesterday? A big schedule dump. ESPN. FOX. CBS. The first three weeks are almost set now. So now that those are pretty much set, I have a few announcements *clears throat*:
- I had the FAU-OU game on the right network, just at the wrong time. This game will now start at Noon. Nice start to the day I would say.
- Again I was right with the network on another one but REALLY had the wrong time. Ole Miss-Texas Tech will now go off at noon from Houston rather than the weird 9:30 start time that ESPN has used the last couple of seasons on opening Saturday.
- We will not get to see Boise State-Troy because it is now on ESPNEWS. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
- I got USC-Stanford VERY wrong. Not on ABC. It’s on FOX. Not in the afternoon. At 8:30. Yeah.
- Speaking of FOX again, UCLA-Oklahoma now begins at 1:00. You see that right…1:00. That is not very PVR-friendly but in this day and age, who gives a shit anymore. Hell, I don’t even use my PVR as much as I have in previous years.
- I think I underestimated how bad Week 2 is. Case in point: Colorado-Nebraska has been moved to ABC at 3:30. Not reverse-mirror: national broadcast. Yeesh.
- In Week 3, Washington-Utah and USC-Texas have slightly different start times but otherwise they are correct.
- On the other hand, Boise State-Oklahoma State was wildly wrong. They are now at 3:30, probably on the specialty pack.
- We still can’t see Rutgers-Kansas but it has been demoted to FSN.
- And here’s something new: Southern Miss-Appalachian State is not on ESPN3. It’s on ESPN+. I will have to do a bit of digging to see if this is available to Canadians but I assume it isn’t because Jesus doesn’t love us. Or is that the CRTC?
Alright, enough of the Ya Blew It section, let’s move on. Now we get to what is truly speculative as 95% of games from Week 4 on have little to no information attached to them. This is where I can REALLY screw things up. So let’s begin shall we?
Game of the Week: Texas A&M at Alabama (7:00, specialty pack) – Jimbo Fisher has a rough early going in his first season in College Station. Clemson early on and then his first SEC game will be against Evil Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide Juggernaut Brigade. If he can somehow, SOMEHOW, coax this team (which should actually be pretty good) into keeping this game close into the fourth quarter, then at least we can say he is already starting to earn his money from that fat contract he has or hasn’t signed yet.
Other Really Important Games: Georgia at Missouri (7:30, specialty pack) – First two games on the specialty pack this week. Not good for you non-specialty pack people. And the fact that Mizzou is near the top of this list is another interesting thing. I think they will be wildly improved from last season and this has to be considered an early trap game for UGA. I mean Georgia is the team to beat in the East by far but if they lose, say, two conference games then it is a complete free-for-all for that division.
Notre Dame at Wake Forest (Noon, ABC/TSN3) – I’m just going to say this here: this could be the game that makes or breaks Brian Kelly’s season. Serious. Let’s look at this: the Irish can lose to Michigan on the opening weekend and many will just say “Michigan’s back.” So it buys the Irish a reprieve if that happens. Then they have Ball State and Vandy in consecutive weeks meaning they should be 2-1, at worst, going into this game. But the Deacs are a good team. They will give Notre Dame a fight in this one. But it’s also Wake Forest. A team with not the greatest winning pedigree. A loss here will fan the flames to the point of possibly no return. Makes for exciting drama, no?
Stanford at Oregon (3:30, ABC) – I feel bad for poor Oregon State and Cal in the Pac-12 North. They have these two teams, plus the two Washington schools, to deal with every season. No wonder neither program has done anything of note in years. As for this game, it’s game one of the Pac-12 North Round Robin of Doom and Destruction that is sure to knock every team out of the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six yet again.
Florida Atlantic at UCF (Friday, 7:00, specialty pack) – Going out on a bit of a limb but I am saying that this could be the Group of Five game of the year right here. Inter-Florida battle. The Lane Train. New coach in Orlando. All kinds of storylines going into this one. Should be fun. Plus it gets the ESPN national broadcast so it shows that both of these programs are starting to get a lot of respect from the media.
Wisconsin at Iowa (7:30, ABC) – Will Wisconsin be as good as last season? Probably not so I don’t have the worry of saying they will run the regular season table (which they did) and then lose the Big Ten Championship (which they did) and still make it to the CFP (which they didn’t). Two out of three ain’t bad. And we all know how the Fighting Ferentzes do in big B1G games. Wouldn’t call it an upset if Iowa won but it’s definitely not being expected here by anyone, probably even most Hawkeye fans.
TCU at Texas (3:30, specialty pack) – Is Texas back? Is Texas back? IS TEXAS BACK? I get that ESPN and FOX (especially ESPN) desperately wants Texas to be back. To be good again. Even great again. But this narrative is so tiring. Meanwhile, Gary Patterson is one of the best coaches of this era and tends to not get as much love for what he’s done with a Horned Frogs program that I think has been in every single FBS conference that has ever existed. OK maybe not the MAC. But still.
Sneaky-Good Underrated Game: Pittsburgh at North Carolina (3:30, specialty pack) – OK hear me out. I fully expect one of these teams, if not both of them, to not be very good this season. But saying that, this could be a very close, very good game. The proof comes from some of the games these two teams have played since Pitt joined the ACC. It was either this or Texas Tech-Oklahoma State. I stand by my choice.
Best Group of Five Game: Florida Atlantic at UCF (Friday, 7:00, specialty pack) – See in Other Really Important Games section.
Worst Power Five Game: Kansas at Baylor (Noon, FSN) – I foresee Kansas being in this section a lot. At least we aren’t subjected to it this time around.
Game of the Week: Ohio State at Penn State (7:30, ABC) – Not just Game of the Week but potential Game of the Year. You can make the argument that the Big Ten could all come down to this one game and you probably wouldn’t be far off. Both teams will have potential Heisman candidates. Should be a lot of offense. Interesting thing is that even a loss here might not kill their CFP chances which is crazy since in 99% of games the loser of a game would destroy any chance of a possible national title.
Other Really Important Games: Stanford at Notre Dame (7:30, NBC) – Two very good early season games on in primetime. This is when you know the college football broadcasting gods are shining down on us, the lowly viewers. Brian Kelly may be pulling out all the stops at this point to secure his job. And David Shaw is David Shaw. I am sure he could have a loaded gun pointed at him and he would still look like he is as calm as someone watching a Bob Ross marathon (although not quite as sleepy…that shit works for insomnia I’m tellin ya!).
Ole Miss at LSU (Noon, TSN5) – This year’s Ole Miss squad reminds me a bit of Urban Meyer’s first Ohio State team: a team that was pretty damn good but wasn’t going anywhere thanks to being on probation/sanctions/whatever they call it now. As I said, a bit. They aren’t nearly as good as that team that probably would have had a good shot at winning the natty. But this time will be better than last year’s that is for sure. Oh and Orgeron Hot Seat Watch 2018 continues here.
Florida at Mississippi State (7:00, specialty pack) – The return of Dan Mullen to Starkville. I hope he gets a really good reception from the Bulldog faithful. He deserves it for taking a pretty bad program and turning it around rather quickly. It will be interesting to see if he follows the path of his predecessor, Jim Bob McElwain. Start off good, tail off a decent amount and then something happens and you’re out of a job after it looks like you made sweet, sweet love to a shark.
Florida State at Louisville (3:30, ABC) – Maybe giving a bit too much love to the Cardinals here. I honestly don’t know how well they will do this season without all-world Lamar Jackson. I’m giving them the better of the two daytime ABC spots because I have a feeling Bobby Petrino would have figured things out by now (sans a potential Alabama massacre to start their season) and the Noles will be rebounding quite nicely after a not-so-good year last season.
Michigan at Northwestern (Noon, ABC) – I am still torn as to which game should get the mid-afternoon timeslot and which should get the supposed Noon death spot. I will go with the Big Ten here since to be honest, they draw better than any conference without the words Southeastern and Conference in it. Michigan will be obviously overrated coming into this one and Northwestern will be underrated. Almost always how it is. How these teams are at this point of the season will dictate where this game ends up.
USC at Arizona (9:00, specialty pack) – Yes I have this game at the odd 9:00 timeslot. I know at some point again this season, ESPN will play around with three-hour timeslots, knowing they won’t work but doing them anyway. Really it’s an excuse to say the games didn’t end at 2:30 in the morning, they ended at 1:00 in the morning. Either way, the people staying up to watch it (on the east coast) are quite possibly insane (like me) or it’s their job to report on these games (unlike me). Anyway, Khalil Tate could end up being the real story here since he has to be a Heisman frontrunner coming out of the gate. Unless the Wildcats suck, they will get more national attention than they have in years.
Sneaky-Good Underrated Game: Virginia Tech at Duke (Noon, TSN3) – Even when Duke wasn’t that good, they seemed to give the Hokies fits for some reason. The Dookies (aha) should be better this season and Tech may be an outside national title contender if their offense can put some points on the board (since we all know the Hokies defense should be solid as per usual thanks to Bud Foster).
Best Group of Five Game: Toledo at Fresno State (10:30, TSN2) – I see people looking at this and thinking I have no idea what I am talking about. Let me explain my thinking here. TSN2, at this point, has a 10:30pm window that night for college football. I have ESPN using their funky three-hour windows this week meaning they would not have a game at 10:30 that night. The only other ESPN2/ESPNU game that night would be this one. And for the G5, it’s a very good one. Toledo will try to keep making it into the New Year’s Six as they have been one of the consistently good MAC teams for the past decade or so. Fresno State tries to build off of last year’s success. Should be good.
Worst Power Five Game: Oregon State at Arizona State (8:00, Pac-12 Network) – Hey maybe Herm Edwards will keep ASU doing well this year. Crazier things have happened.
Game of the Week: Auburn at Mississippi State (Noon, specialty pack) – I would say there is a possibility this moves to the SEC on CBS afternoon slot but LSU-Florida is there so no, that won’t happen. This despite the fact this game has two potential dark horse CFP contenders. I could also call this the SNEAKY-GOOD UNDERRATED GAME of the week but I made a solemn vow to myself that never shall these two paths meet, Amen. Anyway, loser probably forfeits their chance to usurp Alabama as the king of the SEC West (for this season).
Other Really Important Games: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech (3:30, ABC) – Many would say this should be the game of the week. I would but Notre Dame is still a bit of a mystery to me (and many others). I am interested to see how many times Brian Kelly’s possible shitcanning comes up. I am putting the over/under at 9.
Florida State at Miami (8:00, ABC) – A few of the most recent games between these two programs have been fantastic. ABC is surely hoping this continues. Also lately it has been a night game recently so I am assuming it ends up here and ND-VT gets the afternoon spot (but I can see them easily switch spots). So get ready for ample talk of: Bobby Bowden, Jimmy Johnson, Jimbo Fisher, Wide Rights 1, 2 and 3 and Butch Davis. We may hear more of that than actual talk about the game just as an FYI.
Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas) (Noon, FOX) – Time once again for the Red River SHOOTOUT. I wish they would stop being idiots about this kind of thing. Like if you were to look at gun crime statistics for Washington, D.C. for when their NBA team was called the Bullets and when it was called the Wizards, I am sure you will see no discernible difference between the two. Anyway, for once, this feels like we are almost back to way it was last decade when both teams were in the Top 25 and the result was almost always weird and wacky (and devastating for the higher ranked team). The Sooners will be there for sure: will Tom Herman have his team trending back towards glory by this point?
Clemson at Wake Forest (7:15, specialty pack) – This feels like the type of game that in 2019 would be potentially moved to the ACC Network to anchor the primetime slate. And when it comes up some would say it’s a bit of a coup to get this game there for the ACC Network. In the end it would be good because it would get a huge game out of the way early and allow ABC/ESPN to air more Clemson (and perhaps Wake Forest) games down the stretch. We’ve been through this with the SEC Network and especially the Big Ten Network so it’s old hat at this point. Should be a good game though! Don’t expect the Tigers to run away with this one.
Washington at UCLA (8:00, FOX) – This will be one of those weeks where FOX gladly takes a back seat to ABC/ESPN and doesn’t go all out to get the best games (at least on paper). Not saying this one won’t be good but FOX is sure hoping Chip Kelly brings his magic early to Westwood since the Huskies will still be (arguably) the team to beat in the Pac-12.
LSU at Florida (3:30, CBS) – They might as well put a camera on each head coach since that’s what will be talked about for at least half the game. I am sure Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson wouldn’t want to do that (and would instead, you know, want to call the action) but their hands will be tied. Dan Mullen was a huge hire in Gainesville and the Ed Orgeron Hot Seat Tour continues in earnest. Should be good fun. Honestly, CBS should switch this with the Auburn-MSU game but the storylines for this one will be too big to ignore (unless Gus Malzahn or Joe Moorhead maim a football player during practice or something).
Utah at Stanford (10:45, TSN3) – Some late-night TSN action! Expect a bit more of this type of thing this year as TSN spreads their coverage out a bit more than in past years (more evening and late-night games, less going all-in at Noon). If Kyle Whittingham EVER wants to get his team over the hump to the Pac-12 Championship (and possibly the Rose Bowl) these are the games they must win. And it won’t be easy against Cool Hand Dave and his Cardinal crew.
Northwestern at Michigan State (Noon, TSN2) – Man there are a LOT of good games this week. This is why this is the best week of college football before November. This is another game that could go in the underrated category since everyone seems to underrate Northwestern every season but it’s a bit too good to go there (plus I will continue to follow my own rules, as ridiculous as they may be). First week with two TSN games in the best games of the week since Week 1.
Sneaky-Good Underrated Game: Missouri at South Carolina (Noon, specialty pack) – One of these teams will be at least an 8-win team and will cause serious waves in the SEC East. I guarantee* it (*guarantee is not guaranteed).
Best Group of Five Game: San Diego State at Boise State (3:30, specialty pack) – I think ESPN will make a bit more effort to put big Mountain West games on either in the afternoon or in primetime, even if they end up on ESPNU. This is one of those games. It behooves ESPN to do this because it will make for more eyeballs on the late-night games where people would rather sleep. Haha, what a joke. Sleep? On a college football Saturday? What the hell is that?
Worst Power Five Game: Illinois at Rutgers (Noon, BTN) – Kansas and Oregon State would have spots here if we got FS1/FSN or the Pac-12 Network was something worth getting. Since that’s not the case, Rutgers will be the King of the Power Five Basement Television Games Seen in Canada. I need to work on that. A little too wordy.
Pretty much halfway through the season now. I am assuming a few more gametimes will come in over the next week. After Week 3 though it is a tiny bit of a crapshoot with many games going on a 12-day hold where networks have up until 12 days before the Saturday to select which games will be on that week. So there is a good chance none of this correct. I hope that’s not the case but no guarantees.
As for preview magazines, I finally got one: the Street & Smith one. I will be getting Athlon’s later this week and then the Lindy’s magazine in a week or two. I am also getting the Phil Steele preview (of course) but going the digital route this year so I actually get it before the end of July (which I always hate). Makes it so I can’t take it into the shitter and read but oh well, some sacrifices have to be made. Have a good rest of the week everyone.