After an adrenaline-pumping run through ten regular season games that could play a major role in deciding the 2017 college football national championship, today will be a nice palate-cleanser. No detectable intensity, no real stakes, just pointless blowouts as far as the eye can see.
Why do they even bother playing these games – some including matchups of top-5 teams and FCS opponents – at all? It’s not like an FCS team could ever beat a top-5 team.
September 2: Jackson State at TCU
Jackson State went 3-8 in 2016, including a 63-13 loss to a UNLV team that finished the year 4-8. TCU is better than UNLV. You can tell that TCU isn’t worried at all about this game because they didn’t get it moved to Jerry World instead.
September 2: Montana State at Washington State
Shame on the Bobcats for scheduling this game. There is no more automatic and yet pointless a win than being an FCS team and playing Wazzu.
September 9: Indiana State at #24 Tennessee
Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door. The Sycamores finished tied for last in the Missouri Valley Conference last year and are starting from scratch under new head coach Curt Mallory, whose name may sound familiar from his time as an assistant at Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Tennessee opens the year with a Monday night game against Georgia Tech, has just five days before playing ISU, and then plays Florida the week after this, so there’s a decent chance they sleepwalk through this one.
September 16: Mercer at #13 Auburn
Mercer opened the 2013 season with a 40-37 win over Reinhardt, which is apparently an actual college football thing. It was Mercer’s first win since 1941, largely because it was their first game since 1941. That means that Mercer’s first season back in football was the same one where Auburn played in the national title game. If that’s not enough to get you excited, the Bears have gone 6-6, 5-6 and 6-5 over the past three seasons, so they’re basically the SoCon version of Boston College.
September 16: Morgan State at Rutgers
Rutgers faced a gentleman named Howard in 2016, fell behind 14-0 just minutes into the game before reeling off 52 straight points. That win over Howie represented 50% of the Scarlet Knights’ 2016 wins. Morgan State went 3-8 last fall, including a 62-0 loss to Marshall. They did, however, also beat Howard, so the teams can at least laugh together about that. The Big Ten technically has a rule against playing FCS teams, but the Scarlet Knights were successfully able to argue that the league allows other B1G programs to play Rutgers, and that’s basically the same thing.
November 18: UAB at #16 Florida
November 18: Mercer at #1 Alabama
November 18: Wofford at South Carolina
The SEC/SoCon Challenge returns this fall, providing a breather before the showdowns of rivalry week.
This basically works like Westworld, only in reverse. Here it’s the hosts handing over massive amounts of cash for the privilege of committing unspeakable acts against guests who are not permitted by the rules to defend themselves.
UAB isn’t a SoCon team, but this is their first season playing football since 2014, so they may be SoCon-caliber for a while.
November 18: The Citadel at #5 Clemson
The defending national champions are relying on the goodwill from that title to charge their fans for attending a bye week. The week before this, Clemson faces Florida State. The week after is the rivalry game with South Carolina. You may recall that The Citadel hilariously beat those same Gamecocks in 2015. Sadly, 2017 Clemson is not the rudderless post-Spurrier 2015 South Carolina team, so that’s not going to happen here.
November 18: Delaware State at #3 Florida State
Florida State is a very, very good FBS team. Delaware State isn’t just an FCS team, they’re a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad FCS team. In 2014, the Hornets went 2-10 and lost 59-0 to Temple. In 2015, they went 1-11 and lost 45-13 to a Kent State team that finished the year 3-9. Last year, DSU was 0-11 and lost 79-0 to Missouri. The trajectory there is… not great. Look for them to go Minus-1 and 12 this year, losing ∞-0 to the Noles.