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The Tip Sheet: Feeling Pennsylvania
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — This is a brand new era in the Tip Sheet, as the College Football Playoff will bring about a major shift in the focus of this piece. In the past, the goal of the Tip Sheet was to let Buckeye fans know which teams to root for in order to give Ohio State the surest road to the BCS National Championship Game. Now the goal is to let Buckeye fans know which teams to root for in order to give Ohio State the surest road to the playoffs. You see? Completely different.

All the while still using the same utmost advancements in analysis.

This is assuredly going to be the most controversial season in college football history. Even more controversial than the 1923 season when Michigan finally agreed to stop playing pickup games against local convents and counting them in their record books. It's not a coincidence that they haven't won a nuntional championship since.

And yes, it was a hard habit to break.

This season kicks off with some pretty good games, but not a ton of them. In fact, you might have to look a little bit to find enough games to keep your interest. However, if you are already complaining about the slate of games in week one, then you're more spoiled than your jerk kids.

Thursday August 28

Teams: Texas A&M at South Carolina
Time (TV): 6:00 pm (SECN)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Texas A&M
This is going to be the first game that the SEC Network ever airs. The first game that the Big Ten Network aired was Appalachian State at Michigan in 2007, so the SEC Network has got their work cut out for them to top that mess. What would have to happen for the Appalachian State game to get topped? Maybe with all of their Disney money, the SEC Network can show highlights from the future of Saturday's Appalachian State game where the Mountaineers beat Michigan all over again. Though I guess that wouldn't really be much of a surprise at this point. Anyway, getting back to the SEC, Johnny Manziel is gone, but that doesn't mean the SEC Network booth won't talk about him as much as the English language allows — or rather as much as an SEC Network broadcast allows, since the two are far from identical. I'll take the Gamecocks here because of A&M's youth on offense and experience on defense (they were terrible last year, you see). South Carolina 31 - Texas A&M 24

Teams: Ole Miss vs Boise State (Atlanta, GA)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 2.5
Cheer For: Boise State
Remember when Boise State was still a thing? And then they went out and complained about wanting a playoff and not being able to schedule good teams and such. No, they're still not getting the games that they want, but I wonder how that playoff thing is working out for them now. Everybody is on the Ole Miss bandwagon, and by the looks of all of the coon skin, you'd think they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly. If Ole Miss is going to be as good as everybody hopes, then they should pound Boise State from the outset. I'm just not convinced they can pound anything. Yeah, they have talent, but I'd like to see super wide receiver Laquon Treadwell average more than eight yards per reception before I buy in on the Rebels' offense. Ole Miss 30 - Boise State 21

Teams: Rutgers at Washington St. (at Seattle)
Time (TV): 10:00 pm (FS1)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Rutgers
Having Rutgers be the first Big Ten team to set the tone for the conference nationally is pretty unfortunate. It's a little bit like meeting a blind date at a restaurant and texting her from the bathroom to regale her with stories of your currently nervous bowel issues. They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, but fortunately for Rutgers and the Big Ten most people will be asleep when this impression happens. I do have some hope for the Rutgers offense because of coordinator Ralph Friedgen, but I can't trust quarterback Gary Nova not to blow it in the end. Washington State 41 - Rutgers 37

Saturday August 30

Teams: Penn State vs UCF (Dublin, Ireland)
Time (TV): 8:30 am (ESPN2)
Interest: 2.5
Cheer For: Penn State

This game was being threatened by a volcano in Iceland, which could inhibit the Nittany Lions from returning to State College in a timely manner. It should be no surprise then that James Franklin and his team absolutely made the trip.

"You mean the worst thing that can happen if we go to Ireland is that we won't be able to come back to Pennsylvania? Shoot, I'd take those odds even if the game was being played in the Ukraine."

Please take note of the kickoff time of 8:30 in the morning. This will be the first chance us Midwest folks will ever get to feel like Californians! So on Saturday morning we'll all roll out of bed, rub some granolas on our exfoliators and then do a bit of the yoga before we watch 15 minutes of the second half before leaving to meet some people for brunch at this place that only serves brunch, called "Brunchy Joe's". It's a little hole in the wall that you can still be seen at, so it's fantastic.

UCF lost their reason for living (Blake Bortles), but they do still return a ton of defense from last season. Penn State returns enough here and there, but only quarterback Christian Hackenberg is worth writing home about (but with international postage rates, that may no longer be true). I guess I'll go with Penn State and James Franklin mostly because UCF isn't ranked, which is Franklin's kryptonite. Check that, Franklin has lost to plenty of unranked teams as well. UCF 30 - Penn State 24

Teams: UCLA at Virginia
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Virginia
UCLA is a popular dark horse pick for the playoffs. Virginia, meanwhile, is a popular bright horse pick for worst team in the ACC. UCLA has too much talent, but maybe Virginia can keep it from being as ugly as most expect it to be. UCLA 35 - Virginia 20

Teams: Appalachian State at Michigan
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Michigan

This is what I wrote in the Tip Sheet the first time these two teams met way back in 2007: "I say cheer for Michigan, but how upset would you be if Appalachian State went into Ann Arbor — into a hostile environment of disinterested key shakers — and actually won."

I practically predicted the greatest upset in the history of sports!

Michigan is favored by 35 points or so in this game, which seems like a lot when you consider that Michigan's most threatening player on offense (literally) is now gone and in the NFL. But I still have faith in Devin Gardner to move the ball very, very well. I will also repeat my prediction on Twitter that freshman superhero Jabrill Peppers will take a punt back for a touchdown in this game. I don't know if Michigan will cover, but there is no way they will lose to Appalachian State twice in a row. Not a chance. Impossible. Unthinkable. I am personally guaranteeing a Michigan win. The Wolverines are just too talented, and I'll tell that right to the President's face! (I bet the NSA flags all text on the internet that has an exclamation point in the vicinity of the word "President". They probably also don't like "vicinity" either. Hold on, there's somebody knocking at the door. I'll be right back.) Michigan 41 - Appalachian State 14

Teams: W. Virginia vs Alabama (Atlanta, GA)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Interest: 2.5
Cheer For: West Virginia
Nick Saban still hasn't totally decided on which quarterback he wants to have hand the ball off 52 times against West Virginia, but I'm sure he'll get it figured out in time to completely pummel a Mountaineer defense that thinks "blitzing" is the name of a reindeer. Alabama 38 - West Virginia 13

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