Tony's Tip Sheet

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Last updated: 08/30/2012 3:49 PM
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Football
Tony's Tip Sheet
By Tony Gerdeman

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Our long national nightmare is over because college football is finally back. The world has begun to right itself, and we are back on our proper axis.

In other words, we can finally breathe again.

I just hope that Ohio State doesn't ban breathing during games.

It's not a great week of games, but there are enough good games to get you by. Michigan and Alabama is the marquee game, but it'll end up being more like a crackhead's couch (not likely to have four good quarters in it.)

Overall, at least we get five straight days of college football. Not even college football fans can complain about that.

(Do not send me your complaints.)

Thursday August 30

Teams:  #9 South Carolina at Vanderbilt
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Vanderbilt

It's the first game of the season. We've waited years to get back to the start of college football, and this isn't a bad way to start it. Granted, it's not great, but it's at least a conference matchup between a contender and an upstart wannabe. If the Gamecocks went down, that would then slow down their hype, which would be a tremendous thing. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. South Carolina has never done anything for anyone, so why would they start now. Sure, they harbored Mel Gibson's family in 'The Patriot', but other than that, nothing. I'll be rooting for Vanderbilt because one day I may again need help with a term paper. South Carolina 28 - Vanderbilt 17

Teams:  Washington State at BYU
Time (TV):  10:15 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Washington State

We're cheering for Washington State because it's Mike Leach's first game back as a head coach. Also, we still feel bad about what Darrion Scott did to Jason Gesser back in 2002. BYU 37 - Washington State 31

Teams:  Minnesota at UNLV
Time (TV):  11:00 pm (CBSSN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Minnesota

This will be a very good test for Minnesota because even though they are bad, UNLV is worse. The Runnin' Rebels were 2-10 last year and allowed 40.4 points per game. The Gophers could make a statement with a win on the road to open the season. Of course, that statement would be something like, "Told you we weren't the worst team in America!" Actually, they could make a bigger statement with a loss. That's why I'm taking the Gophers. Never expect them to make a big statement. Minnesota 34 - UNLV 24

Friday August 31

Teams:  North Carolina State vs Tennessee (Atlanta, GA)
Time (TV):  7:30 pm (ESPNU)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  North Carolina State

People who care about football in the south tell me that this is going to be a very good game. They also tell me the proper technique for noodling is to let your hand go limp as you slip it into a catfish's mouth. If you tense up, when that sucker clamps down, he's liable to bust a knuckle. Once it bites down, and you grab it, it'll fight you. They say it will remind you of trying to pull your grandpa out from under the kitchen table by his mouth. Regarding the game, I will never buy into Volunteer quarterback Tyler Bray, so don't try selling him to me. Tennessee 26 - North Carolina State 20

Teams:  #24 Boise State at #13 Michigan State
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Michigan State

I might be buying into Michigan State's defense a little too much, but I have a feeling that they're going to make life hell for quarterback Joe Southwick. I think Chris Petersen will still have some effective drives drawn up, and they will score some points, however. But while you're focused on Boise's offense versus the Spartan defense, you need to keep in mind that Michigan State also has an offense and Boise State returns only two starters on defense. Michigan State 31 - Boise State 20

Saturday September 1

Teams:  Notre Dame vs Navy (Dublin, Ireland)
Time (TV):  9:00 am (CBS)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Navy

I'm planning on getting to Ohio Stadium early enough on Saturday to watch this game. I always enjoy this rivalry, but I enjoy it more when Navy is good and Notre Dame isn't. I don't know how good the Irish are this year, but Lou Holtz tells me that they're going to win it all this year. Rather, they're going to win it all "thish" year. Unfortunately for Navy, Notre Dame has had weeks to prepare for their option attack. Everett Golson is getting the start at quarterback for Notre Dame while Tommy Rees is suspended. Expect a star to be born against Navy's defense. Beano Cook will declare Golson the quintessential alpha male of the new millennium. But he'll say it in a jowlier fashion. Since this game is being played in Ireland, the biggest question remaining is whether or not the broadcast will look like an old NFL Europe game. Notre Dame 38 - Navy 21

Teams:  Ohio at Penn State
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Penn State

I know, I know, I know – you're never rooting for Penn State again. I get it. Honestly, nobody will be rooting for Penn State except for Penn State fans. Actually, in that regard, nothing has changed for the Nittany Lions. There are a lot of people calling for an upset alert here. Bobcat quarterback Tyler Tettleton can put up a ton of points, and Penn State doesn't really have the ability to do the same. It will be up to the Nits' depleted defense to control this game. I have to assume they'll pull this one out somehow before collapsing later on down the schedule. Penn State 20 - Ohio 19

Teams:  Northwestern at Syracuse
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Northwestern

The winner of this game gets the coveted "Excellence in Broadcasting Excellence" Trophy. It's a statue of Paul Bunyan holding a big ass microphone. This feels like a Northwestern choke job to me. Syracuse 23 - Northwestern 20

Teams:  Western Michigan at Illinois
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Interest:  2
Cheer For:  Illinois

It's the start of the Tim Beckman era. And it comes against a MAC team with a very good offense. You know what that means? It's going to be a shootout. This is the type of game that these iffy Big Ten teams lose. If the Broncos had more experience at receiver, I'd take them here. But they don't, so I can't. Illinois 41 - Western Michigan 31

Teams:  Miami (OH) at #18 Ohio State
Time (TV):  12:00 pm (BTN)
Interest:  5  
Cheer For:  Ohio State

Not even Isaac can slow down the excitement for Urban Meyer's debut as Ohio State's head football coach. And yes, I'm talking about Isaac from the Love Boat. He's such a downer. Always talking about how things today just aren't as good as they used to be. Given the changing of the guard at Ohio State, Buckeye fans just don't want to hear that crap. After all, they are finally going to see an offense that tries to score on every possession, instead of an offense that is hoping to pin 'em deep with a sweet punt. No offense to the punt enthusiasts, of course. And yes, Isaac loves punts, but he thinks they were better in the 70s.

Teams:  Miami (FL) at Boston College
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ESPN2/ABC)
Interest:  1
Cheer For:  Boston College

Here you go, Buckeye fans. The ultimate dilemma – do you root for the Hurricanes, or do you root for Boston College offensive coordinator Jim Bollman? There is no wrong answer. There's no right answer either. Miami (FL) 3 - Boston College 2

Teams:  Southern Miss at #17 Nebraska
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Nebraska

The last time Southern Miss opened the season at Nebraska (2004), they came away with a 21-17 win over the Huskers. In that game, Southern Miss managed just 239 yards of total offense, but was +4 in the turnover battle. Obviously, that loss will still be on the minds of Husker fans. As will be their silly foam corn hats. Expect Nebraska to come out pounding the ball against a front four that returns just one starter from last season's 12-2 team. If the Huskers don't approach 300 yards rushing in this game, that would be bad news. Nebraska 37 - Southern Miss 14

Teams:  Iowa vs Northern Illinois (Chicago, IL)
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ESPNU)
Interest:  3
Cheer For:  Iowa

Iowa is about to embark upon a season-long game of Capture the Flag, but instead of capturing a flag every week, they will try to capture the opponent's starting running back. As far as the game is concerned, Iowa is going to have to work for this one. Expect the Hawkeyes to become "Passy Galore" this season without a running game. Iowa 38 - Northern Illinois 24

Teams:  Northern Iowa at #12 Wisconsin
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (BTN)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Wisconsin

This will be the seventh FCS team that Bret Bielema's teams have played in his seven seasons. His teams have only ever played one ranked opponent in regular season non-conference play. In 2008, the Badgers traveled to #21 Fresno State and pulled out a squeaker 13-10. The Badgers have beaten their last two FCS opponents by a combined score of 129-13. Wisconsin 129 - Northern Iowa 13

Teams:  #14 Clemson vs Auburn (Atlanta, GA)
Time (TV):  7:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Clemson

Clemson will be without receiver Sammy Watkins in this game, or else this would be a slam dunk pick. But they do return Tajh Boyd, DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington, so that should still be plenty to beat a team that isn't quite sure if it even has an offense yet. Auburn will be starting Kiehl Frazier at quarterback by default. He didn't really win the job, but the game program was already printed, so they just "went with it". Auburn does return almost everybody on defense from last year, and since they are an SEC defense, that means they are going to be super amazing. Still, picking Clemson here almost seems too easy. Like somebody is setting a trap. Clemson 28 - Auburn 17

Teams:  #2 Alabama vs #8 Michigan (Arlington, TX)
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ABC)
Interest:  5
Cheer For:  Michigan

If Michigan wins this game, they would be come even more insufferable than they already are. It's sort of like 'Highlander'. When you behead another immortal, the "quickening" overtakes you and you inherit their power. Well, a similar thing happens when you beat an SEC team, you inherit their exuberance and idiocy. It's called "the hickening". Most people are saying that Denard Robinson is going to have to win this game for Michigan, but he can't do it on his own. If running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint (assuming he plays) (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) and Thomas Rawls can chew up yards and shorten the game, then that would allow Robinson to act more as a closer late in the game. I don't know how Michigan is going to contain Alabama's running game though. I think they can do it early in the game, but as the game goes on, the defensive line will wear down to the nubs that they already are. The game will be close at times, but never in doubt. Alabama 31 - Michigan 20

Teams:  Arkansas State at #5 Oregon
Time (TV):  10:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4
Cheer For:  Arkansas State

Gus Malzahn and Chip Kelly together in the same stadium again! This is like when Spider-Man would show up to help the X-Men from time to time. And then Mary Jane would be in the background talking crazy talk and the X-Men would be buying DVDs of mutant prospects from 2006. Oregon 63 - Arkansas State 27

Teams:  Toledo at Arizona
Time (TV):  10:30 pm (ESPNU)
Interest:  3.5
Cheer For:  Toledo

Rich Rodriguez will get a chance to avenge his loss to Toledo while he was the head coach of Michigan in 2008. Although taking revenge on Toledo generally refers to leaving an upper decker in the last remaining Ponderosa in the city. Arizona 37 - Toledo 30

Sunday September 2

Teams:  Kentucky at #25 Louisville
Time (TV):  3:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  2.5
Cheer For:  Louisville

Buckeye fans need to be Louisville fans this year because the better the Cardinals do, the more likely it is that head coach Charlie Strong moves on to a better job. And if Charlie Strong moves on, the more likely it is that five-star receiver James Quick out of Kentucky chooses the Buckeyes over Louisville. Although, wherever Strong goes would then probably end up leading for Quick, as Louisville does now. You know what, don't ever root for a college game based on how it might effect an 18-year old boy. It makes you look really freaking creepy. Especially when you wear that beret. Louisville 28 - Kentucky 14

Monday September 3

Teams:  Georgia Tech at #16 Virginia Tech
Time (TV):  8:00 pm (ESPN)
Interest:  4.5
Cheer For:  Georgia Tech

Essentially we're cheering against Virginia Tech, rather than for Georgia Tech. It's nothing personal, it's just more fun when Paul Johnson's option offense is meaningful. Since Johnson came to Tech in 2008, last year was the only time this game has been decided by more than one score. However, with the offseason to prepare, the Hokie defense should be pretty well prepared for the option. The real story may be how Georgia Tech's defense handles quarterback Logan Thomas and redshirt freshman tailback Michael Holmes. My guess is not very well. Virginia Tech 27 - Georgia Tech 17

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