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It’s here! The 2013 College football season has officially started. I’m not one for hyperbole, so I mean it when I say that this weekend is the most important couple days in the history of human civilization. Christians all over the world would argue that Easter is bigger, but modern times have proven that a college football player (Tebow) can be bigger than JC himself. Did you watch last night’s games? The Gamecocks really pounded the Tar Heels, huh? Or, did UNC pull a huge upset in Columbia? I don’t really know, I am writing this on Wednesday, but the outcome doesn’t even matter because football is back!
Thursday and Friday are teasers for the real action this Saturday, the first complete day of football since January 1. There are a lot of games this weekend, too many for even the most Adderalled-out guy at the library to watch. Fortunately, I am here to tell you which games to watch and which games to skip so you don’t waste precious hours of your Saturday watching the Kansas Jayhawks. Only morons do that. Like me. (Checks the schedule). Hey, the Jays have a bye this weekend! That means we’ll still be undefeated in week two. Half of your teams can’t say that. But, before we get to the games, a public service announcement about your quarterback.
With the proliferation of the spread/no-huddle/hurry-up offense, and the demise of a traditional running game, it’s safe to say that the quarterback position has never been more important. Perhaps this is why many college coaches are having such a hard time choosing a leader of the offense. To this point, several major teams have still not declared a starter the day before kick-off. Penn State’s Bill O’Brien isn’t saying who his QB is. West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen has not announced a successor to Geno Smith. TCU’s Gary Patterson won’t say if Casey Pachall is his starter, even though he was already voted QB of the preseason All Big 12 team. And, finally, does anyone think Lane Kiffin of Southern Cal really knows what he’s doing anymore, saying he’ll play both QBs in the Trojans’ game at Hawaii? There are several more examples of this, but the point is that choosing a QB has now become the most visible decision for many head coaches. The QB is usually the only player most fans can recognize, and choosing a less popular but more skilled player as a starter can be a tough decision. It’s surely frustrating for Indiana Hoosier fans to know that they’ll see three guys play on Saturday, but it’s easier to choose one after some live game action than to bench a guy who was named starter before the first game. So, if your team is one of many without a named starter, just relax. At least your QB isn’t Dayne Crist.
Here’s Saturday’s lineup. It goes without saying that you should be up by 9:00 to start boozing and to watch ESPN’s College Gameday. This week, the crew is in Death Valley, SC for undoubtedly the top game of Week 1, Georgia at Clemson (more on this later).
The noon games, as you should expect most of the season, are pretty weak. If I were to assign a shitty beer to this week’s games, it would have to be Miller Lite. Miller is by far the worst of the big three domestics, and the noon timeslot is the worst of the day. Let’s call it “Miller Time.” Anyway, games start at 12:00 when #2 Ohio State (all rankings AP poll) hosts Buffalo. An hour later, #7 Texas A&M invites Rice to College Station for a game that is suddenly more interesting now that Johnny Football is suspended for the first half. The NCAA has really gone above and beyond its constant goal of embarrassing itself this past year. Georgia lost an entire season of AJ Green because he attempted to sell a jersey, but Manziel will only miss 30 minutes of gametime for whoring himself out to every sports memorabilia dealer in Texas. His interview took six hours, and, meanwhile, Miami is still awaiting judgment for whatever violations they committed several seasons ago. At this point, the NCAA is about as popular as hemorrhoids and just as difficult to eliminate.
The games in the 3:00 hour are a slight upgrade from the noon slot. At 3:30, #13 Oklahoma State plays Mississippi State, a game that for some reason is being played in Houston’s Reliant Stadium. Do fans really like these neutral site games? I know Stillwater and Starkville have about as much charm and culture as an Olive Garden, but Houston is a giant parking lot where the homeless piss on your door handle. Also at 3:30 are #14 Notre Dame, who plays Temple, and the #17 Michigan Wolverines, who host the Chippewas of Central Michigan. At 4:00, #3 Oregon plays Nicholls State, a game in which the Ducks are favored by 59 points.
Finally, the good games begin at 5:30, as #1 Alabama takes on Virginia Tech in Atlanta. I’m sure this game sounded a lot better a couple years ago when it was scheduled, but the Hokies begin the 2013 season unranked, and I don’t think that changes anytime this year. I just don’t buy Logan Thomas as a premier QB. He’s big and strong enough to pound me to taco filling, but I still have no problem saying to his face that he has the clutch of a standard-shift Yugo with 300k miles. Dude disappears in big games, and he will on Saturday against the epic Tide defense.
Two night games matter more than any other. First, at 9:00, Cowboy Stadium is the site of a Big 12-SEC battle of the middleweights, as #20 TCU and #12 LSU play for the first time since 1968. As mentioned above, TCU has not announced the starting QB, but Casey Pachall is arguably the best passer in the league. I don’t know who Patterson thinks he’s fooling because Les Miles and the LSU video staff have had 8 months to gameplan for this matchup. On the Tigers’ side of the ball, it will be interesting to see if new Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron can turn Zach Mettenberger and the rest of the offense into an average unit. If so, the Tigers will surprise some folks this year. LSU fans will fill the dome, but I doubt they realized they were getting a fashion show as well as a football game. The Horned Frogs new unis are SO fab this year.
I saved this game for last, even though it kicks off at 8:00. I am so excited for #8 Clemson and #5 UGA that minutes ago I had to be talked out of buying a ticket on StubHub. I was on Clemson’s campus Wednesday afternoon, and I can’t imagine there is a happier student body this week. I got to witness the sorority bid day run, which is an awesome tradition if only for the potential that some hefty freshman loses her balance stampeding down the steps (when it finally happened, I high-fived some random dude in a Kappa Alpha tee. TFM). The ESPN Gameday trucks rolled into town, and there are banners and signs and other flair all over town hyping everyone for the game. I talked to some of the thousands of students camping for seats, and unsurprisingly they all predicted a Tigers blowout. I love the Clemson offense, and I am skeptical of the Georgia D, which lost two high-round draft pick linebackers, but this game is too big to be a blowout. I think Clemson pulls it out late with a fourth quarter scoring drive, and preseason All-SEC QB Aaron Murray is once again left with too little time to win the game for the Dawgs. Make sure you pace your drinking on Saturday. You’d hate yourself if you passed out at 9:00 and missed the ending of the best game this August.
I gave a lot of love to Clemson this week, so let me give Georgia a little pat on the rump before I take off. Here’s noted UGA fan Jason Aldean, and fat hillbilly Colt Ford, with my song of the week, “Drivin’ Around Song.”