College Football Viewing Primer: Weeks One Through Five
By Tony Gerdeman
You know how when you go on vacation and you've been gone for two weeks and you're tired and beat and all you want is to be back home in your own bed, but you're still three or four hours away from making that happen?
That's where we are in terms of the college football season. We're close, but we still have to stop for another tank of gas and pick up some beef jerky, Skittles and Mt. Dew.
And the whole time you're finishing the drive, all you can think about is pulling into your driveway and finally settling in. But in our world, that driveway is still over two weeks away.
So, in order to torture you just a little bit further, we thought it was a good time for our annual College Football Viewing Primer, that way you know exactly what you're waiting so impatiently for.
Week One (Aug. 31)
National Game of the Week – Georgia at Clemson, Saturday 8:00 pm (ABC)
It's the Game of the Year of the Week. Over the years, I've referred to Georgia as "the Clemson of the SEC" and Clemson as the "Georgia of the ACC", but on this particular Saturday night, we'll find out who the real "who is of whom". Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins against Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley. We could see a Big XII score in this one.
Underrated Game of the Week – Kentucky vs Western Kentucky (at Nashville, TN), Saturday 7:00 pm (ESPNNews)
People have taken notice of Mark Stoops' ability to recruit, but now he'll finally be challenged on the field, and losing to Bobby Petrino and Western Kentucky would be a huge setback. Especially considering WKU beat the Wildcats last year as well.
Overrated Game of the Week – Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, Thursday 9:00 pm (ESPN)
We're gonna hear quite a bit about this game because it's on a Thursday on the opening night of college football. And yes, I realize that it's two of the upstart SEC programs, but it's still just Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Nobody has ever cared about this game, and the only reason we'll care now is because of its timeslot.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Northern Illinois at Iowa, Saturday 3:30 pm (BTN)
We'll get to see how good these Iowa linebackers are right off the bat against Heisman contender (not really) Jordan Lynch at QB for NIU. This will probably come down to the wire and be lost on somebody's kick.
Other Games of Note – North Carolina at South Carolina (ESPN), Mississippi State vs Oklahoma State (ESPN2/ABC), Purdue at Cincinnati (ESPNU), Penn State vs Syracuse (ESPN2/ABC), Alabama vs Virginia Tech (ESPN), Washington State at Auburn (ESPNU), LSU vs TCU (ESPN), Boise State at Washington (FS1), Northwestern at California (ESPN2), Florida State at Pittsburgh (ESPN)
UNC at South Carolina is huge because it's the first game of the season, but also because maybe we can finally move on from Jadeveon Clowney's hit on Vincent Smith and start acquiring some new highlights. The Big Ten has three big games on the road. Losses for any of them would stunt momentum. Washington State at Auburn should feature some fun offensive attempts, but the talent may not be able to do much with it. Alabama and Virginia Tech are being completely ignored for a very good reason– people aren't taking Tech seriously. At least not against the Tide.
National Game of the Week – South Carolina at Georgia, Saturday 4:30 pm (ESPN)
Somebody that was going to inevitably lose at some point anyway will be losing in this game. If the Bulldogs lose the week before at Clemson, their season will be on the line in this game.
Underrated Game of the Week – Florida at Miami (FL), Saturday 12:00 pm (ESPN)
The reason that this game is underrated and not overrated is because people don't respect Miami anymore. I'm not saying you should respect them now, but you should at least respect Canes running back Duke Johnson.
Overrated Game of the Week – West Virginia at Oklahoma, Saturday 7:00 pm (FOX)
Yes, last year's game was fun, but now West Virginia has to come to Norman and they won't be bringing Geno Smith with them.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Notre Dame at Michigan , Saturday 8:00 pm (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
If Michigan gets by the Irish, they'll be 5-0 when they get to Happy Valley on October 12, and likely in the top 10. The Wolverines are just 5-6 as a ranked team against the Irish over the last 20 years.
Other Games of Note – South Florida at Michigan State (ESPNU), Cincinnati at Illinois (ESPN2/ESPNU), San Diego State at Ohio State (ABC/ESPN2), Oregon at Virginia (ABC/ESPN2), Syracuse at Northwestern (BTN), Navy at Indiana (BTN), Southern Miss at Nebraska (BTN), Texas at BYU (ESPN2), Washington State at USC (FS1)
Folks are pointing at the San Diego State at Ohio State game thinking that the Aztecs can give the Buckeyes some trouble, especially without Carlos Hyde in the mix, and possibly Bradley Roby. Navy at Indiana could be a game that starts in week two and finishes in week seven. This will be a huge week for Tim Beckman, because a win over Cincinnati this year still counts for something. South Florida is the Michigan State of the old Big East, so this game will be like watching a battle of the bands between the original band and their cover band. Texas at BYU probably interests somebody somewhere.
National Game of the Week – Alabama at Texas A&M, Saturday 3:30 pm (CBS)
It's the Game of the Century of the Year of the Week. Planetary wars have been started over less. Nick Saban's reputation as a soulless robot is on the line in this game. Texas A&M, meanwhile, will have to deal with the distraction of Johnny Manziel going out on tour with Radiohead, or some such thing.
Underrated Game of the Week – TCU at Texas Tech, Thursday 7:00 pm (ESPN)
It's TCU's noted defensive history against Kliff Kingsbury and his rock-and-roll-on-turf-party of offensive spasms. (Not to be confused with Johnny Manziel's offensive spasms, which are usually Instagrammed and quickly apologized for.)
Overrated Game of the Week – Ole Miss at Texas, Saturday 8:00 pm (LHN)
I mean, it's not even on real people television.
Big Ten Game of the Week – UCLA at Nebraska, Saturday 12:00 pm (ABC)
We'll get a pretty good look at this Nebraska defense right away because UCLA's offense with quarterback Brett Hundley is no joke. Still, the Huskers offense should be able to outscore the Bruins.
Other Games of Note – Air Force at Boise State (ESPN), Louisville at Kentucky (ESPN), Nevada at Florida State (ESPN/ESPN2), Georgia Tech at Duke (ESPNU), Tennessee at Oregon (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2), Iowa at Iowa State (FS1), Washington at Illinois (BTN), Ohio State at California (FOX), Notre Dame at Purdue (ABC), Wisconsin at Arizona State (ESPN/ESPN2)
Louisville at Kentucky will be the biggest thing to hit Lexington since a random basketball game of some sort. Nevada at Florida State will be interesting with Wolf Pack QB Cody Fajardo facing the Noles defense. Iowa at Iowa State is a must-win for both programs, which tells you where both of those programs are right now. Washington at Illinois gives Tim Beckman yet another chance to save his job. Purdue gets a national primetime stage against Notre Dame. I'm sure it will go just fine. Ohio State's unproven defense will face Sonny Dykes' overly-caffeinated offense.
National Game of the Week – Michigan State at Notre Dame, Saturday 3:30 pm (NBC)
I guess this is the best game of the week. I can check again, if you want.
Underrated Game of the Week – Auburn at LSU
This is an interesting matchup simply because we'll get a pretty good idea of how far Gus Malzahn has brought his offense in just a month. Plus, if the game gets interesting, Les Miles will do something to only make it more interesting.
Overrated Game of the Week – Kansas State at Texas
Collin Klein's not walking through those doors, folks. However, Bill Snyder is, and he's a witch, so who knows.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Missouri at Indiana, Saturday 8:00 pm (BTN)
It's rare for a Big Ten team to host an SEC team, and when they do, they can't let them leave with a victory. This is a very winnable game for the Hoosiers. It should be pretty high-scoring and super entertaining.
Other Games of Note – Clemson at North Carolina State (ESPN), Boise State at Fresno State (ESPN), Arizona State at Stanford, Michigan at UConn, Tennessee at Florida, North Carolina at Georgia Tech, West Virginia at Maryland, Arkansas at Rutgers, Utah at BYU
Tennessee and Florida is always fun, if just to see those uniforms together out on the field. Arkansas at Rutgers will be an interesting one to watch, and if the Scarlet Knights can pull off the win, Big Ten fans and coaches will surely be smiling at the thought of Bret Bielema losing to a future Big Ten team. Clemson at North Carolina State will be one to watch because Clemson is eventually going to lose to some conference team that they shouldn't, and NC State has a history of being that type of team. Boise State at Fresno State is about as big as it gets in the world that those teams exist in. A Friday night kick makes it huge.
National Game of the Week – LSU at Georgia
Georgia could be 1-2 at this point in the season, or 3-0 and a top 3 team. A win against LSU could put them even higher.
Underrated Game of the Week – Texas A&M at Arkansas
Just some good old-fashioned smash mouth Southwest Conference football. Or at least that's what Bret Bielema would have preferred. Bielema can make quite the statement in this game.
Overrated Game of the Week – Oklahoma at Notre Dame, Saturday 3:30 pm (NBC)
Sure, it's two of the biggest names in college football history, but both teams are as predictable as an Encyclopedia Brown story the second time you read it.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Wisconsin at Ohio State, Saturday 8:00 pm (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
The Leaders Division Championship Game. The loser of this game is pretty much out of the title hunt. This is also Ohio State's biggest official visit day of the year, so Urban Meyer will have that in mind as well.
Other Games of Note – USC at Arizona State, Miami (FL) at South Florida, Florida at Kentucky, Arizona at Washington, Stanford at Washington State, Oklahoma State at West Virginia, Ole Miss at Alabama,Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
Oklahoma State at West Virginia should be entertaining, provided you don't hate Arena football. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech play on a Thursday night, which is always fun. Florida at Kentucky will give the Wildcats another chance to show their recruiting class what it will actually be like to play in the SEC. Ole Miss at Alabama could be interesting for a quarter, but it will give us a chance to see how far away Ole Miss is from being a competitor. Arizona at Washington should be pretty high scoring. Miami (FL) at South Florida will showcase two fanbases that would rather be shopping for speakers in a parking lot.
Tomorrow: Weeks Six Through Ten
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