Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman
We made it! Football is finally here. We can exhale and begin our sedentary life of television melding.
Once all of the weeping is over, that is.
Granted, the week one games do indeed suck, save for a few interesting matchups. During the season, this would rate about a 3 on a scale of 1-10. But in week one, it's a 12 with butter on top.
Just think, we will have at least one Top Five team lose this week, and since Les Miles is involved in that game, that Top Five team will lose in spectacular fashion. If you are squeamish, then don't watch.
There are also a few debuts to keep an eye on. Luke Fickell and Brady Hoke get their respective eras under way, though I might be using that term with a looseness not seen since the Joker called Maggie Gyllenhaal “beautiful”.
Anyway, without further adieu, what say we get to all of that amazing analysis!
Thursday September 1
Teams: UNLV at #11 Wisconsin
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
Why is the interest a '5'? Because it's real, live, actual college football, you idiot! (The second half would rate a 1.5, probably.) This will be America's first chance to get a look at Russell Wilson as Wisconsin's quarterback. Will his scrambling enhance the offense, or merely ruin it completely? Will there actually even be any reason to scramble when you're handing the ball off 50 times per game? Keep in mind that Wisconsin has a history of slow starts, and some of those slow starts have come against UNLV. There was the infamous 23-5 Badger loss in 2003, and the 20-13 near-loss in 2007. This one should be closer to last year's 41-21 score however. Interestingly—and read into this whatever you would like, the seedier the better—Wisconsin and UNLV have played nine times in the last 25 years. Wisconsin 44 – UNLV 17
Friday September 2
Teams: Youngstown State at #17 Michigan State
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Michigan State
I predict that Kirk Cousins will throw for about 150 yards on first down play-actions alone. But Mark Dantonio won't want to embarrass his old stomping grounds too bad. After all, look at how politely he has treated Ohio State over the years. Michigan State 38 – Youngstown State 7
Teams: #14 TCU at Baylor
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Baylor
A matchup pitting the best Texas team in the MWC against the second-best Texas team in the Big XII. (Texas A&M is first.) These two teams met last year and TCU led 35-3 at the half. Baylor still remembers that loss, which is why Texas isn't the only school that doesn't want to see TCU in the Big XII. The Frogs will always be able to play defense, no matter how many starters they lose. They still bring back about half of their defensive starters, but more importantly they bring back head coach Gary Patterson. They'll need everything they can get on defense because Baylor has a very good offense. They return almost everybody, and averaged over 500 yards of total offense at home last season. I wouldn't be surprised to see Baylor win this one, but that doesn't mean I can pick them yet. They've played seven ranked teams over the last two seasons and are 0-7, losing the games by an average of 27 points. The closest was a 42-30 loss to 23rd-ranked Texas A&M last year. TCU 28 – Baylor 23
Saturday September 3
Teams: Akron at #18 Ohio State
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
The first game in the Luke Fickell Era. In Jim Tressel's first game as the head coach at Ohio State, he defeated Akron 28-14. It was a very boring game. Fickell can't afford boring. He needs all the zazz he can find. Aged Joe Bauserman will guide the Buckeyes until his sciatica flares up, and then it will be up to the youngster Braxton Miller to relieve him for a spell. Then Bauserman will come back out and play another series or two before the trainers have to remind him to take his pills, at which point Miller will then re-enter the game. Despite the gametime temperature being in the upper 80s, Bauserman will still be heard complaining in the huddle about a chill in the air. He will then call a timeout and ask a manager to go and fetch his shawl. Oh, and sometime in the fourth quarter, don't be shocked if he runs out onto the field and tells Akron to get off of his lawn.
Teams: Indiana State at Penn State
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Penn State
You know, it's a good thing that Penn State doesn't have a uniform fiasco like Oregon has. Matt McGloin has enough trouble keeping jerseys straight as it is. Just imagine him trying to throw to the right team if the Nitts changed uniform schemes every week. Penn State 37 – Indiana State 13
Teams: Middle Tennessee at Purdue
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Purdue and their collective ACLs
I want to see how Purdue running backs Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers look. They could save a lot of quarterback lives if they're as good as Danny Hope is telling people they are, but if I was watching this game, I would watch it with both eyes already expecting the worst, like those stupid television shows with skateboarding injuries. Yeah, that's what I want to see. Show me more internal crotch injuries. What tremendous programming! Oh, did you see that one?! I didn't think his crotch was going to land on that railing, and then WHAM! right on the railing!! Well played! Purdue 24 – Middle Tennessee 12
Teams: Tennessee Tech at Iowa
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Iowa
The only reason America is interested in this game is because Team Awesome's number one running back is Iowa tailback Marcus Coker. (What do you want, it was a two-keeper draft and all of the valuable running backs were taken. I don't like the rule anymore than you do. Why don't you get off of my back. This is just like the time you wouldn't let me put a dart board on my bedroom wall. How many times do I have to tell you that there would have never been any holes because I AM AN EXCELLENT DARTSMAN!) Iowa 40 – Tennessee Tech 13
Teams: Appalachian State at #13 Virginia Tech
Time (TV): 12:30 pm (Gameplan)
Cheer For: Appalachian State
Obviously we're cheering for Appalachian State because they are America's team. At this point, I'm baffled as to why the Longhorns have a network and Appalachian State doesn't. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they're not playing Texas this week or else they could christen the Longhorn Network the same way they did the Big Ten Network. Instead they'll just have to settle for the barely visible ACC television deal. Given what happened with James Madison last season, I'm not expecting Virginia Tech to overlook Appalachian State on Saturday. I can't wait to watch highlights of Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas, who is supposed to be the next big thing among Virginia Tech quarterbacks, which means everybody will be talking about how great he is while the statistics are busy disagreeing. Virginia Tech 33 – Appalachian State 20
Teams: USF at #16 Notre Dame
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (NBC)
Cheer For: USF
Ideally, The Tip Sheet is designed to keep an eye on teams that stand in Ohio State's way of the BCS Championship Game. But, like the BCS, I also include Notre Dame simply for ratings purposes. Notre Dame 27 – USF 20
Teams: Minnesota at #25 USC
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Cheer For: Minnesota
Consider this a parting shot by Tim Brewster to Jerry Kill. It's college football's version of 'the upper decker'. Brewster couldn't win with an easy schedule and somehow thought a tougher schedule would make his sucky teams less sucky. It's like sink or swim, but you're trying to swim while your head is being held under, and now Kill has to deal with Brewster's bravado. At least we will get to see what kind of quarterback MarQueis Gray is under pressure. Kill's teams are hard-nosed and can run the ball. The Gophers have a couple of tailbacks, and of course Gray is as good a runner as you will generally find at quarterback. However, this will be a much stiffer test than Minnesota is used to, especially since the Gophers tend to steer clear of tests of ANY kind. Now we don't really know where USC will be at as a football team, but we do know that the Trojans defense will be a great marker for where Kill's offense is in week one. USC 33 – Minnesota 20
Teams: Western Michigan at Michigan
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN2/ABC)
Cheer For: Michigan
How can you not be interested in this game? Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges installed a new offense, and then realized that Denard Robinson couldn't run it, so he basically had to do a system restore all the way back to about December of 2010. Things will be added in as time goes by, but don't expect the West Coast Offense—or as Tim Brewster would no doubt call it, 'The Shoelace Coast Offense'—to show up any time soon. To further hinder the offense, the Wolverines have no running backs. A starter will be named on Friday, and I'm guessing they're only waiting that long in hopes that a walk-on suddenly appears Willie Mays Hayes-like one morning. Who knows, perhaps in this crazy, mixed up world that we live in, we might see a Michigan defense that actually outperforms a Michigan offense. Michigan 35 – Western Michigan 19
Teams: Chattanooga at #10 Nebraska
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Nebraska
Congrats on your week one opponent, Nebraska. I see you subscribe to Bret Bielema's newsletter on non-conference scheduling. I wonder what your philosophy is on two-point conversioning. Nebraska 51 – Chattanooga 3
Teams: Arkansas State at Illinois
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Illinois
Being the Big Ten homer that I am, I also have Illinois running back Jason Ford on my fantasy team. I would like to apologize to his ACL right now. (It was nothing personal, bro.) As far as the game itself is concerned, I'm looking forward to seeing if quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is as pinpoint as his coaches are saying. If he is, Illinois' offense could be very, very good. Aside from Ford's soon-to-be debacled knee(s), of course. Illinois 41 – Arkansas State 17
Teams: East Carolina vs #12 South Carolina (Charlotte, NC)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (SECN/FSN)
Cheer For: East Carolina
The Pirates have one of the more explosive passing offenses in the nation. However, it's a dink and dunk offense for the most part, and against good defenses, it's not all that difficult to contain. Steve Spurrier came out and said that backup quarterback Connor Shaw has performed well enough to possibly start in front of oft-life-of-the-party Stephen Garcia. Is Spurrier simply playing games? Who knows. One fun thing to watch while the Gamecocks are on defense will be freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who will be looking to live up to unliveuptoable hype. Oh, and running back Marcus Lattimore will rush for 200 yards, which will kickstart his Heisman campaign. South Carolina 38 – East Carolina 13.
Teams: #3 Oregon vs #4 LSU (Arlington, TX)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: LSU
We're cheering for LSU because there's no way they're going through the season undefeated, whereas there may be no team in the Pac 10 good enough to stop the Ducks. And don't worry, as much as it will kill you to root for an SEC team, everybody is in the same boat. Remember, “when in Rome”, and so forth. The easy pick in this game is LSU because of their defensive line, and the fact that Oregon doesn't like to get smacked in the mouth. Fortunately for Oregon, LSU's offense will be as hampered as their own, though through no fault of the Ducks' defense. If Marcus Lattimore is going to kick off his Heisman campaign against East Carolina, LaMichael James could get the actual engraving started with a big game against LSU. Regardless of who wins the inaugural Willie Lyles Invitational, both teams will get some lovely parting gifts. Most notably a hot-off-the-presses DVD of 2007's best national prospects from west Texas! LSU 24 – Oregon 23
Teams: #5 Boise State vs #19 Georgia (Atlanta, GA)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Georgia
Ah yes, Boise State's annual contest against a middlingly-ranked team that will justify their weak schedule for an entire season. While I may scoff, I am certainly looking forward to this game. And props to an SEC team for leaving campus to play a game for a change. Very impressive. (Go ahead and email me and tell me that SEC teams travel all the time, I don't care. Facts don't stop people from touting the SEC over the Big Ten in bowl games every year.) I immediately want to pick Boise State in this game because I know that those smug blue bastards are going to find a way to win. But then I look at Georgia's defense, and Boise's lack of receivers, and I think that maybe the Bulldogs have an advantage here. Georgia's offense is going to be able to move the ball. Aaron Murray is a very good quarterback, but I can't help feeling like this is one of those times when I should stick with my first instinct and pick against the SEC's Clemson. Boise State 27 – Georgia 24
Teams: Tulsa at #1 Oklahoma
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FX)
Cheer For: Tulsa
This game is interesting because it's an in-state battle and any time you can get two of something in Oklahoma, it's more interesting than just one of something. Clearly, the Sooners have more offense than Tulsa can handle, but the Golden Hurricane aren't slouches in that department. The Sooners may give up an early score, but they should beat up on Tulsa soundly during the second and third quarters before winning convincingly. Oklahoma 65 – Tulsa 31
Sunday September 4
Teams: Marshall at #24 West Virginia
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Marshall
If you came here for cheap jokes about Appalachia, you've come to the wrong place. Besides, what's the point of making fun of people on the internet when they have no way of ever reading what I write? Anyway, what an offseason for the Mountaineers. It was your typical “Head coach-in-waiting meets casino, falls in love with casino, current head coach and wife say coach-in-waiting loves casinos and booze more than he actually does, get found out, head coach gets fired, new head coach solidifies self as cult hero on the internet” situation. This will be our first chance to see Dana Holgorsen's offense in Morgantown, and it could be tremendous. He will make an outstanding head coach for the Michigan Wolverines in 2015. West Virginia 27 – Marshall 17.
Teams: SMU at #8 Texas A&M
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (FSN)
Cheer For: SMU
Let's call this a 'Winner Leaves Town' match. If A&M wins, they get to leave for the SEC (which they're already doing anyway), and if SMU wins, they get to join the Big XII. (Or whatever's left of it between now and Sunday night.) Also, feel free to add barbed wire to the ring ropes. And at some point during the game I would love it if the ultimate Texan—Stone Cold Steve Austin—would appear out of nowhere and give A&M a Stunner. Then while SMU is celebrating their good fortune, Austin would stun them as well for good measure. He would then spend the next seven or eight minutes drinking beer at the 50-yard line. The score of the game will be secondary to what everybody will have witnessed, but let's go with the Aggies here. Texas A&M 37 – SMU 30.
Teams: Miami (FL) at Maryland
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Miami (FL)
I would list the names of the suspended Hurricanes for this game, but the internet is not infinite. Miami will be dealing with too many issues to win this game. They would need to come together as a team in a manner that we haven't seen since that time when they were all on Nevin Shapiro's yacht and that one dude did a cannonball from the top deck into a kiddie pool of grape jelly. Good times. Good times. Maryland 20 – Miami 16.
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