Welcome back to another year of college football! As I have done in the past, each week, usually on Thursday afternoons, I will take a look at five to ten of the week's top games. There are sure to be games I do not include, as my loyal readers remind me, but I try to pick games of national interest...and maybe even a strange out-of-top-25 game due to circumstances (see: New Mexico 2010).
As you remember when we last left off, Auburn won the BCS championship by virtue of their victory over Oregon. Don't worry...the Tigers WILL NOT repeat. Cam Newton, who led them to the title, is now toiling for my Carolina Panthers...hopefully he did not take a pay cut to play in Charlotte!
So...HERE WE GO with my list of what to watch for this year! Enjoy...and do feel free to continue to comment!
1. The Miami situation...where will it end? Opening on national television at Maryland on Labor Day night was supposed to be great for the ACC. Two teams led by new coaches. Now, the storyline will be about the current players who received improper benefits. As I said, where will it end?
2. There will be NO COLLEGE BOWL games played on New Year's Day, 2012. Why? January 1 falls on a Sunday in 2012, and the NFL has a full slate of games...so traditional New Year's games, like the Rose Bowl, will be played on January 2. There will be, however, conference title games in the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and the SEC...so you WILL get plenty of college action this season!
3. Boise State may or may not be a BCS factor this season. Their opener on September 3 at Georgia will be your quick indication of this. Win...and they will have a shot - lose...and that's it for the Broncos. Another interesting Boise fact: As part of their deal to leave the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West Conference they can no longer wear all-blue uniforms for home conference games. MWC coaches complained the blue uniforms on the "Smurf Turf" made it difficult to watch film. NOTE TO COACHES: It's NOT the uniforms that makes Boise so tough to beat...it's the football they play. Last season, they beat Fresno on the blue turf, 51-0, wearing ORANGE.
4. Penn State University's Joe Paterno, who will turn 85 in December, said he'd like to coach another four years. Maybe the Big 10 Conference will be up to 16 teams by then..
5. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin's new quarterback (he's a post-graduate transfer from N.C. State via the Asheville Tourists minor league baseball team), could lead the Badgers to the Big Ten title. His presence solved a H-U-G-E hole in the Wisconsin offense.
6. TCU...yeah, they'll be back in the mix again...well, they were supposed to host Mountain West newcomer Boise State on November 12...but the game was switched to Boise when the Horned Frogs announced they were leaving next year to join the Big East Conference. And, last I looked, the Dallas Metroplex is NOT in the East...but I digress...
7. Legends and Leaders...who's in which division...and does it matter? When your two marquee teams, Ohio State and Michigan are, shall we say, and are not going to be premier teams this year, look to Nebraska, Michigan State and Wisconsin to make noise. And, for NEXT season, Indiana has received a commitment by the NUMBER ONE QUARTERBACK in the nation, Gunner Kiel...wonder if he knows Indiana is a BASKETBALL school?
8. Pre-season polls have OKLAHOMA number one. Alabama, Oregon, LSU and Florida State (OVERRATED) round out the top five. They are followed by Stanford, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. Pre-season polls should be outlawed. They can really hurt a school not yet on the radar, let's say Arkansas, because they have a lot of ground to make up. Personally, I would like to see the polls wait four weeks - or until the beginning of October - when we have a sense of which teams DESERVE to be ranked.
On the other hand, we have a great looking match-up on the opening week - No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU in Dallas. Oh...both schools are under NCAA investigation for dealing with Willie Lyles, a Houston-based scouting services provider. Yeah...
9. I am interested to see what happens to North Carolina this season. Just eight days before practice began, they fired their former head coach, Butch Davis. Then, a few days later, their athletic director, Dick Baddour was out. Well-heeled (no pun intended) boosters and fans have been very upset over things, and just when Kenan Stadium has been expanded...plenty of luxury suites built in the so-called Blue Zone...but they are now bailing on tickets. I know, UNC is a basketball school, but they really tried to win...and win at any cost. That cost potentially has risen tremendously due to the lack of judgment.
10. Keep an eye on USC...Both of them! Southern Cal and South Carolina are dangerous teams...but with major problems. The Trojans are poised to win the Pac-12 South, but are INELIGIBLE to play in the championship game (presumably against Oregon). This could give Arizona State a tremendous opportunity...the Devils are going to be good...you heard it here first. They have a veteran team and when it comes to playing one game for a title, you NEVER know what will happen. Could the Devils end up in a major bowl? Absolutely.
South Carolina, on the other hand, is favored to win the SEC East. Led by their Teflon quarterback, Stephen Garcia,(SIX suspensions...seriously?)...if he was a back-up, he'd be out of Columbia faster than cool weather, but he is THE starter, so, yeah, the Ol' Ball Coach suspends him until it is go time. The Gamecocks will be good, but they will probably meet Alabama in the title game...don't see that one ending up well for the Gamecocks.
So, there you go. I am sure you have ten or more questions about the upcoming season as well and that's what makes football fans so great - PASSION! Whether it's college OR professional football...the sport has the most passionate fans in the world (yes, I'm talking to you soccer fan). Let's get the discussion going!