College Football Viewing Primer: Weeks One Through Seven
By Tony Gerdeman
As you read this, college football kicks off in just 31 days. You can't wait, but just because you have to wait doesn't mean we can't look ahead.
Sure, a Thursday night of South Carolina at Vanderbilt may not excite you, but it's the first game of the year and for that reason alone, you should be looking forward to it.
And if you're really sick, you'll stay up with me to watch Minnesota at UNLV at 11:00 pm on a school night. I will not be of much use to anybody on the Friday after.
The season picks up quickly with Boise State at Michigan State on the season's first Friday. Then it's Michigan against Alabama in primetime the first Saturday of the year.
Are you sweating just thinking about it, or is that just me?
National Game of the Week – Alabama vs Michigan (Arlington, TX) (ABC)
Michigan is 2-1 all-time against Alabama, but the two schools have never met in the regular season. Brady Hoke is 1-1 against ranked opponents in his Michigan career, and the Wolverines are 5-10 against Top Ten opponents over the last eight seasons. These two football programs have 24 recognized national championships between them, though only four of those have occurred since the Reagan Administration.
Underrated Game of the Week – Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (ESPN)
The loser of this game is likely out of the Coastal Division running, but the fact that the Hokies will be able to prepare all summer for Georgia Tech's option should provide a great deal of help. Paul Johnson is 1-3 against Frank Beamer, but those three losses have been by an average of seven points per game.
Overrated Game of the Week – Notre Dame vs Navy (Dublin, Ireland) (CBS)
It's Notre Dame, it's in Ireland, and it's on CBS. The fact that it kicks off at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time is the only saving grace.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Boise State at Michigan State (Friday) (ESPN)
Michigan State has won 13-consecutive home openers by an average of 23 points per game, but even this depleted Boise State team will be the best team that they've faced in a home opener in years. Michigan State cannot afford to lose this game, and they shouldn't.
Other Games of Note – NC State vs Tennessee (Atlanta, GA) (ESPNU), Ohio at Penn State (ESPN), Clemson vs Auburn (Atlanta, GA) (ESPN), Toledo at Arizona (ESPNU), Washington State at BYU (ESPN), Kentucky at Louisville (ESPN)
Ohio at Penn State interests me because the Nittany Lions will have a new head coach on the sidelines for the first time since Tom Bradley secretly took over in 2005. Clemson vs Auburn would be overrated if it wasn't going to be a shootout. Rich Rodriguez gets a shot at revenge against Toledo, which is just delicious.
National Game of the Week – Georgia at Missouri (ESPN2)
This will be Missouri's first SEC game, and will be just the second meeting between the two schools. This first occurred in the 1959 Orange Bowl, which UGA won 14-0. Needless to say, “Remember '59!” will be a valiant rallying cry.
Underrated Game of the Week – Oklahoma State at Arizona (P12N)
This will either be very entertaining, or incredibly uncomfortable to watch as two new quarterbacks are broken in. Fortunately, defense is optional.
Overrated Game of the Week – Florida at Texas A&M (ESPN)
Two big names coming off of mediocre seasons. But it is A&M's SEC debut, so it should be a great scene. Even though this is the Aggies' first SEC game, it's a much more important game to Florida. They can't afford to start 0-1 in conference play. It's an interesting matchup, but still overrated because it just won't match the hype that ESPN will give it.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Illinois at Arizona State (ESPN)
Yeah, it's that kind of week in the Big Ten. The Illini have lost nine of their last ten non-home openers, so don't get your hopes up. Or do, I don't care if you're feelings get hurt.
Other Games of Note – Penn State at Virginia (ABC), Auburn at Mississippi State (ESPN), Washington at LSU (ESPN), Nebraska at UCLA (FOX), Purdue at Notre Dame (NBC)
Seven Big Ten teams play BCS opponents in Week Two, so if they lose the majority of those games it will be a story. If they win them, then nobody will cover it. Penn State at Virginia is intriguing because you have two programs moving in opposite directions. Washington at LSU will be notable to see if UW quarterback Keith Price is as good as people think. I'll watch Purdue at Notre Dame because you can't stop me from watching two Indiana football schools get together!
Arkansas warms up for Alabama by playing Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe the first two weeks. I'm sure that will get them ready. Plus, John L. Smith will no doubt have them prepared—unless the coaches go and SCREW IT UP!
National Game of the Week – Alabama at Arkansas (CBS)
Underrated Game of the Week – Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (ESPN2/ESPNU)
I may be alone, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Pitt's offense under Paul Chryst. Running backs Ray Graham and Rushel Shell should make for an interesting duo against the Hokie defense, and he showed for years at Wisconsin that average quarterbacks are just fine in his offense.
Overrated Game of the Week – Florida at Tennessee (ESPN)
Oh, it's an old school SEC East game, you say? Please tell me how important it is as I look for something else to watch.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Notre Dame at Michigan State (ABC)
This is one of my favorite rivalries in college football because both teams hate losing, yet both teams try so hard to do it.
Other Games of Note – Navy at Penn State (ABC/ESPN2), Arizona State at Missouri (ESPN2), USC at Stanford (FOX), California at Ohio State (ABC)
Assuming Penn State is still fielding a team by week three, they will be in for a test against Navy's option game. USC at Stanford will be entertaining because Gus Johnson says so. California at Ohio State will be Urban Meyer's first "big" game as the Buckeye head coach.
Look, the ACC doesn't have much, so throw them a bone and let them have the Game of the Week. The winner of this game is the likely winner of the Atlantic Division. The road team has won this game just once in the last ten years.
National Game of the Week – Clemson at Florida State
Underrated Game of the Week – Michigan at Notre Dame (NBC)
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking “How in the world is one of the most overrated rivalries actually underrated?” Well, to answer your question, it's not an overrated series, and you thinking it is has actually made it underrated. I hope you are happy with yourself.
Overrated Game of the Week – Miami (FL) at Georgia Tech
Miami (FL) is still relevant like how Hulk Hogan is still relevant. If you see him at the mall, you'd be like, "Whoa, that's Hulk Hogan." And then twelve seconds later, you'd be like, "Let's hit Sbarro. I'm starving."
Big Ten Game of the Week – Temple at Penn State
It's one thing for Penn State to try and keep their head above water in the Big Ten. It's another thing entirely for them to do it against in-state opponents who have always been deemed inferior to Penn State. This is Temple's chance to stake a claim.
Other Games of Note – BYU at Boise State (ESPN), Arizona at Oregon (ESPN TBA), California at USC (P12N), Kansas State at Oklahoma, LSU at Auburn, Missouri at South Carolina,
Arizona at Oregon will be entertaining if you are starting any Ducks in your fantasy lineup. Kansas State at Oklahoma is about as big a contrast between styles as you will find this season. LSU at Auburn could be exciting if Cam Newton comes out of the stands.
Ohio State isn't eligible to win the Big Ten, but this is the first step in proving to everyone who the best team in the conference actually is. They will face the entire Leaders Division as well as Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State in the Legends Division. They could leave zero doubt.
National Game of the Week – Ohio State at Michigan State
Underrated Game of the Week – Baylor at West Virginia
This game could be like eating Skittles for supper. It's sweet and tasty at the time, but later you'll feel pretty ashamed of yourself and be starving for real food.
Overrated Game of the Week – Texas at Oklahoma State
Sorry, I need to see something from Texas that is basically the exact opposite of what they've shown the last two seasons. They get punched in the face almost as well as a self-defense dummy.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Wisconsin at Nebraska
This is either a preview of the Big Ten Championship Game, or merely what it would look like if Nebraska could ever make it to the Big Ten Championship Game.
Other Games of Note – Stanford at Washington, Florida State at USF, Arkansas at Texas A&M, Tennessee at Georgia
I'm looking forward to Arkansas at A&M. That's about as classic an SEC matchup as you will ever see. Florida State at USF looks like the perfect time for the Seminoles to choke one away, especially after coming off of a great win against Clemson.
This should be the SEC East Championship Game. More often than not, this is a close matchup. This year's edition should be no different. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw four touchdowns against the Gamecocks last season.
National Game of the Week – Georgia at South Carolina
Underrated Game of the Week – Georgia Tech at Clemson
I expect Clemson to score quickly in this game, which means their defense will be on the field an awful lot, and they will get tired. GT head coach Paul Johnson is 3-1 against Clemson.
Overrated Game of the Week – Miami (FL) vs Notre Dame (Chicago, IL) (NBC)
Two overrated things do not make a right.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Nebraska at Ohio State (ESPN/ABC/ESPN2)
The Buckeyes will come into this game either on a high from beating Michigan State, or ticked off because of a loss. Either way, it's bad news for Nebraska. The Huskers will no doubt remember Braxton Miller's performance against them last year and will attempt to take out his knee.
Other Games of Note – USC at Utah, Boise State at Southern Miss, Navy at Air Force, Illinois at Wisconsin, West Virginia at Texas, Washington at Oregon, Arkansas at Auburn, LSU at Florida, Virginia Tech at North Carolina
Illinois will play Wisconsin with a chance to win the tiebreaker in the Leaders Division. West Virginia will travel to Texas to see if the Longhorns are as soft as they look on TV. LSU goes to Florida and will prove just how shameful Urban Meyer's reign of terror in Gainesville truly was.
The Trojans have a choke in them somewhere. Why not here?
National Game of the Week – USC at Washington
Underrated Game of the Week – Alabama at Missouri
This will be the biggest game in the history of the state of Missouri, per ESPN's mandate. The Tigers will probably come in with a .500 record, but it will still be fun to see Bama's defense against Mizzou's spread.
Overrated Game of the Week – Oklahoma vs Texas (Dallas, TX) (ABC)
Could I possibly hate on Texas more? This stretch of games for Texas (at Oklahoma State, West Virginia, vs Oklahoma) will either put Texas back on the map, or send them back to national indifference.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Iowa at Michigan State
I don't really have Iowa making a dent in the Legends Division, but a win in East Lansing could finally make me look foolish after all these years.
Other Games of Note – Illinois at Michigan, Stanford at Notre Dame (NBC), North Carolina at Miami (FL), West Virginia at Texas Tech, South Carolina at LSU, Florida at Vanderbilt
Shouldn't South Carolina at LSU be the National Game of the Week? Who writes this stuff? Illinois at Michigan should be entertaining because the Illini will test every part of the Wolverines' defense. Florida can't afford to lose at Vanderbilt, but it would be hilarious if they did.
Related Article: Weeks Eight through Fifteen
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