[Note: Sorry for the slightly huge delay. I started writing this on Wednesday, but fell ill with a real illness and not some fake illness that most people use as an excuse. It is now Friday night and I’m dragging, but I’m going to try and power through this for you. All I ask in return is that you remember me as a hero.]
This is the first intro of the first Tip Sheet of the 2017 season and I’m already tired of writing intros.
Why should I have to do all the work? Why can’t people use the theater of the mind for these intros. I think from now on I’m just gonna give you scenes and scenarios as intros and then you can do whatever you want with it.
[Scene: A 1980’s arcade on a Friday night.]
[Scenario: Terrorists have taken over an arcade and won’t let anybody play Defender. An expected mother goes into labor due to the chaos, and you are the only person there who has seen enough sitcoms about babies being born in strange places to deliver this baby. But you also don’t want to get out of line for Defender in case the terrorists ease their restrictions. What do you do?]
Boom, perfect intro. I can do this all year long.
Starting on Thursday, we get five straight days of college football. Only a handful of those games are gonna be great, but we don’t care. We’ve basically wandered the desert looking for a drink of water, so we’re not gonna be picky if half of the watering holes have elephant dung floating in them.
What? You won’t drink poopwater?
So now you’re gonna get fussy? After all these years? Oh yeah, you’re real classy, aren’t you? You’re here for the culture, I’m sure. The Tip Sheet is basically the internet’s version of a natural history museum for you, right?
Whatever you have to tell yourself to not hate yourself for reading every year, I guess.
That’s probably a real mood killer when you’re visiting with family. Everything is going great and you’re telling everybody how great work is going and your life just couldn’t be any more fulfilling.
And then Aunt Ruth asks, “Are you still reading that tip sheet thingy?”
The rosy hues drain from your face and they’re replaced by the dusty-pale colors of shame.
“I only read it for the pictures,” you say quickly.
And then pity hits you from every side like surround sound.
Somebody then whispers to the person next to them that you used to have friends.
You quietly excuse yourself from the kitchen, but not before grabbing a box of saltines and ketchup because that’s your go-to shame snack. “Ketchy Cracky” you call it. You sit on the porch, a ketchy cracky in your hand and one in your mouth. You try not to cry.
You also try not to choke because you forgot to grab a drink.
Then you check your phone because you just remembered that it’s time for another Tip Sheet.
Thursday August 31
Teams: Buffalo at Minnesota
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Minnesota
I am excited about the P.J. Fleck Era of Minnesota football. Could you imagine if he was your manager at K-Mart though? The place is going out of business, but he wants the shelves stocked and straightened because he’s the only person with enough energy to care. They don’t even give you air conditioning, but he wants the lawn furniture display six inches further back in order to keep a straight line with the rest of the aisles. Don’t be surprised when you see a bunch of Gophers going pro early and never getting drafted.
Minnesota 38 – Buffalo 13
Teams: #2 Ohio State at Indiana
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
Everything you’ve hated about the Ohio State offense over the last two years is gone now and only good things remain. Maybe. Even with a few questions about the Buckeye defense, it’s the offense that everybody is concerned about. A lot has gone into this investment, and the returns should start rolling in by about 9:00 pm. I don’t see how Indiana scores enough to keep up with an Ohio State offense that could be everything you’ve ever wanted it to be. Or it could just be the same offense it’s always been under Urban Meyer, which is only five of the greatest offenses in school history.
Friday September 1
Teams: #8 Washington at Rutgers
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Rutgers
I’m actually pretty interested in this one because I want to see how far Rutgers has come in 20 months under Chris Ash. Chris Petersen had two average years at Washington before the Huskies made the playoffs last year, so these things take time for even the best coaches. I’m not saying Rutgers is one year away from the playoffs, but I am saying that we shouldn’t be too judgmental of Rutgers based on just this one game. Unless it’s really, really ugly.
Washington 38 – Rutgers 21
Teams: Colorado State (1-0) vs Colorado (Denver, CO)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (P12N)
Cheer For: Colorado State
I think I’ve made the decision to stop including games that are being aired on the Pac-12 Network because if a game is going on but nobody is able to watch it on television, is it really happening?
Colorado State 33 – Colorado 30 (OT)
Teams: Utah State at #9 Wisconsin
Time (TV): 9:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
Do you realize that we’re all planning on staying home on a Friday night to watch a Rutgers game and a Wisconsin game? Is that sad, or is that just excitement? Or is it both? At least I have an excuse, as I might be taping a podcast. But then, what kind of an excuse is that? “I don’t have any real friends, so I’ll just talk to a computer.” Whatever. I still don’t think we’re losers. Besides, we’ve got like 38 other weekends to go and do stuff like zip lining or jazz dancing or whatever the popular thing is to do these days. By the way, did you know they can put cheese AND bacon inside pizza crusts now? Wait, who am I talking to? Of course you knew.
Wisconsin 27 – Utah State 7
Saturday September 2
Teams: Akron at #6 Penn State
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Penn State
Here’s the deal, it is now 3:00 pm on Thursday and I’m sitting in the middle row of a minivan on the way to Bloomington and now I’m dealing with a cold. What this means is that I’m not going to be able to give you any kind of effort the rest of the way. Pretty soon I’ll be in the press box with my head down wondering when I can go to bed. This is the world’s longest intro because it is now 10:45 pm on a Friday night and I’m still wondering when I can go to bed. I’m expecting a big game from Saquon Barkley (aka, “the poor man’s J.K. Dobbins”) in this one. Quarterback Trace McSorley should have a nice outing as well.
Penn State 42 – Akron 10
Teams: Maryland at #23 Texas
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Maryland
The Urban Meyer Coaching Tree Bowl. Tom Herman is hosting D.J. Durkin, but this game means a lot more to Herman than it does to Durkin. Months of superficial upgrades need to bring about tangible results. This can’t be like the racing stripes you put on your minivan. The Longhorns are favored by 19 points, which seems like a lot. Maryland has some skill players to hit some big plays. This will be one of the games I watch at noon, provided my health allows it and I have not done too much by finally writing this Tip Sheet for you. This is the life of sacrifice I have chosen, though. I’m not expecting awards or accolades or thank yous or P.F. Chang’s gift cards (you know who you are). Simply knowing that I am here for you is enough for me.
Texas 31 – Maryland 21
Teams: Bowling Green at Michigan State
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Michigan
If you think about it, East Lansing is basically the Bowling Green of Michigan. It’s got a mall and a college, both of which feature a lot of drinking and fighting. The main difference is Michigan State’s lack of Euchre skills.
Michigan State 35 – Bowling Green 14
Teams: Ball State at Illinois
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Illinois
I know a lot of people name their kids after their favorite sitcom characters, but you’ve got to be a special kind of monster to name your son after Thurston Howell’s wife. I suppose itt’s better than Ball State’s coach Mrs. Garrett Jones, though. As a former Bears fan, I was never really a fan of Lovie Smith. As a never-once Illini fan, I feel bad for where their program is now. I don’t have any faith in Smith to get the job done. Whatever that job may be. What would “getting the job done” even constitute at Illinois? Not leaving the lights on in the locker room at night? I have no idea.
Illinois 23 – Ball State 17
Teams: Wyoming at Iowa
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Iowa
This game is interesting because of Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who is a future first-round draft pick. And this game is also interesting because we’ve seen Iowa lose this kind of opener before. Predicting an Iowa opening game is a gamble. It’s a lot like lighting a firecracker and then slamming it in your mouth and trying to chew it up before it explodes. The threat could be extinguished immediately, or it could blow your face off. You just don’t know. And that’s probably why the National Firecracker Eating League is my favorite professional sports league. My favorite player is James Hutchinson, who has the all-time record of firecrackers consumed (1). Hutch was the greatest I’ve ever seen do it. Eventually, however, the game always catches up to its athletes. By the way, watch Iowa’s two-back attack with Akrum Wadley and Nevada transfer James Butler.
Iowa 27 – Wyoming 24
Teams: North Carolina State vs. South Carolina (Charlotte, NC)
Time (TV): 3:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: North Carolina State
North Carolina State is receiving so much hype right now that you’d think they played in the SEC. The best thing about this game is that South Carolina is no longer the opening game of college football, which means we no longer have to watch South Carolina football.
North Carolina State 20 – South Carolina 16
Teams: Temple at Notre Dame
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (NBC)
Cheer For: Temple
Any time I see a game with Temple involved, I get this feeling of, “I really just don’t care.” So having to write about a game that Temple is involved in really tests my skills as any analyst. Any time I see a game with Notre Dame involved, I get this feeling of, “What hilarious way could Notre Dame lose this game?” So having to write about a game that Notre Dame is involved in really tests my skills as an analyst. Fortunately, I am up for such a challenge, especially in a game as intriguing as this one. What should you be watching for in this game? An opportunity to watch Michigan and Florida instead. I do expect Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush to be pretty damn good, though.
Notre Dame 38 – Temple 24
Teams: #11 Michigan vs. #17 Florida (Arlington, TX)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Michigan
If you are a Florida Gator, then you have been suspended from this game and will be forced to watch it from home. But at least you can get high. Michigan comes in with an entirely new defense, and I’m interested to see if defensive coordinator Don Brown can stay as aggressive as he likes with a secondary that might be quite average. Can the Wolverines run the ball against a good defense for once? Does Florida even have a good defense right now? The annoying part about this game is that when Michigan wins it convincingly, people will credit the suspensions and not the Wolverines. Please, please, please don’t do that. And especially don’t do that on Twitter or Facebook and please don’t tag your Michigan fan friends. Unless you’ve got the time, of course.
Michigan 27 – Florida 17
Teams: UTEP at #7 Oklahoma
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Oklahoma
I’m only putting this here so you’re not wondering where it is. I just want to go to bed.
Oklahoma 70 – UTEP 24
Teams: Nevada at Northwestern
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Northwestern
There are some pundits out there picking Northwestern to win the Big Ten West, which means you might want to watch out for an upset right here. I do expect the Wildcats to move the ball pretty well. They have the skill players to score some points this season. Quarterback Clayton Thorson could be in line for a huge year. Or he could be in line for another Northwestern letdown when expectations were at their highest. It’s too close to call.
Northwestern 41 – Nevada 21
Teams: Western Michigan at #4 USC
Time (TV): 5:15 pm (P12N)
Cheer For: Western Michigan
Pac 12 teams are just making up kickoff times now. Prohibitive September Heisman favorite Sam Darnold kicks off his season against the P.J. Fleckless Western Michigan Broncos. Darnold will throw six touchdowns in this one, but I think he’s getting too much attention right now. I’m probably wrong, though, because I’m the guy who once said, “Why would anybody need a cell phone? Can’t they just go home and check their answering machine and see that nobody called them yet again and just cry themselves to sleep like normal people do?”
USC 49 – Western Michigan 17
Teams: #16 Louisville vs. Purdue (Indianapolis, IN)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Purdue
I want to see what the Purdue offense looks like under Jeff Brohm. If it’s good right out of the gate, they could keep up with Louisville for a half. I don’t expect the defense to be able to hold up against Heisman winner Lamar Jackson for an entire game, however.
Louisville 38 – Purdue 20
Teams: #3 Florida State vs. #1 Alabama (Atlanta, GA)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Florida State
You’re cheering for Florida State because you would like to see Alabama have to play the rest of the season on the cusp of being eliminated from the college football playoff picture. The Tide are favored by a touchdown and even though it’s the biggest game of the week, I don’t really have a lot to say about it. I expect Florida State to put up a great fight, but ultimately Alabama will wear down the Noles. If FSU can somehow win, however, then I could see these two teams swapping spots in the rankings. Assuming Alabama would drop for a loss, of course.
Alabama 31 – Florida State 24
Teams: Arkansas State at Nebraska
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Nebraska
Look it’s almost midnight. Can I just please go to bed now? I have to get up in the morning and finish Ten Things We Learned. I haven’t even had a chance to tally up my Big Ten positional ratings and the season is already underway. And even if I did say anything about this game, you’re not gonna be watching it anyway. Don’t try to guilt me into analysis. It won’t work. Fiiiiine. New Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee is supposed to be the answer to Mike Riley’s offensive problems. We’ll see if he’s the dropback passer that this offense needs. Arkansas State usually has an outstanding offense, but I’m not gonna go and look to see if they’re supposed to have one again this year. You can do that on your own. Stop it. Don’t look at me like that. %$*#! Fine. Actually, last year was an off year scoring-wise for ASU, but quarterback Justice Hansen does return, so they should better their 27.3 points per game from a year ago. There. Are you happy? You better use this knowledge the next time you leave the house. I don’t care if it’s just buying a pack of smokes at BP. When the cashier gives you that annoyed look for making them leave their position at the register to search for your budget smokes, you better mention Arkansas State’s offensive woes from last year and how they should be better this year, but probably not good enough to beat Nebraska, who has a quarterback more equipped to handle Mike Riley’s preferred dropback passing game. Got it?
Nebraska 41 – Arkansas State 24
Teams: BYU vs. #13 LSU (New Orleans, LA)
Time (TV): 9:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: BYU
LSU is coached by Cajun Brady Hoke and the Tigers are favored by 14.5 points over BYU. The good news for the Tigers is that Cajun Brady Hoke is a good delegator and the offense should finally be in good hands. Maybe.
LSU 30 – BYU 13
Sunday September 3
Teams: Texas A&M at UCLA
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: UCLA
Neither team is ranked, but don’t let that stop you from getting way too excited about whichever team looks good in this one. I’m really not a fan at all of UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, but I fully expect Texas A&M’s defense to get lit up like a bonfire. But I also expect the Aggies to run the ball pretty well on a UCLA defense that I am going to assume is soft and moist like a pillow just pulled out of a toilet.
UCLA 38 – Texas A&M 35
Teams: #22 West Virginia vs. #21 Virginia Tech (Landover, MD)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: West Virginia
You’re cheering for West Virginia because they play in the Big XII and Ohio State plays Oklahoma. You’re also cheering for West Virginia because you’ll never forgive Virginia Tech for cheating against Ohio State in 2014 when they played an illegal defense that had never been seen on film by human eyes before. I’m looking forward to watching WVU quarterback Will Grier. I am never looking forward to watching Virginia Tech’s offense.
West Virginia 43 – Virginia Tech 41 (3OT)
Monday September 4
Teams: Georgia Tech vs. #25 Tennessee (Atlanta, GA)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Georgia Tech
This is the final game of the Tip Sheet and I just want to be done, but I don’t want to just dismiss what is a very important game between two Power 5 programs. I want to give it the weight that it deserves. Either of these two teams could end up in the mix for a college football playoff spot if 120 other programs mysteriously disappeared. Tennessee and Georgia Tech would then have to forge on and repopulate the planet with college football. The first night would be awkward, but eventually they would settle in and make hideous orange option-running babies with funny accents.
Georgia Tech 31 – Tennessee 30