The college football season kicks off in few short weeks and teams have opened camps across the country. Hard core fan bases start flooding talk radio shows with prognostications, some with incredible expectations some with tempered enthusiasm. Those who attended practice have observations from fall camp, have their 2 deep depth chart ready to go. Fall Saturdays and the opening of camp means more to some fan bases than others, for some life has just begun, after a three month dormant period between the end of spring practice and the opening of fall camp, for some this is just the warm up for basketball season, but for every program and every game, there are unique and hidden story lines.
ESPN and FOX will be hammering various obvious story lines home this season, who can’t forget the ESPN build up for the “Bowden Bowl” otherwise known as the Clemson vs. Florida State game, (yes folks, there was a time when a regular season ACC game garnered national attention). I am going to go off the beaten path with matchups that might be interesting this season, some may be key games on the road to the national championship, some might be just interesting in the vein of a train wreck; “you justcan’t look away”, and some could impact the game for years down the road. These games are highlights of the first two weeks of college football. Some match ups will be obvious as to why you should watch others may not be.
1. Virgina Tech vs. Boise St. – This game has huge National Championship implications for Boise St (that’s obvious genius). This is the only game of note on the Boise St. schedule. Yes, there is a game vs. Oregon St. but that is a home game, and OSU is a team that notoriously starts slow. This game is huge because many of the people watching this game are not watching it because of Virginia Tech, they are watching this game to see Boise St. They are curious about this team that has not played a meaningful game east of the Mississippi since its 1AA days. It is a program that has never played a legitimate AQ conference program on the road, east of the Rockies. This is a game that is huge for the credibility of Boise St’s program, a loss to Virginia Tech, which is expected to contend for an ACC title in a down year for the conference, (the ACC is seen as maybe the fourth or fifth best conference nationally), could affect the perception of the “Blue Turfer’s program”. This game is also huge because Boise St has been one of the top three programs in the west for the past few years, and there has always been a sentiment out west that football west of the Big-12 does not get the respect nationally it deserves. With all of this noted, Boise St. wins this game then they only have contests with Nevada and Oregon St. as their hurdles en route to the BCS title games, and these are not even a really high hurdles. Lastly, this could be the launch of Boise St. QB Kellen Moore’s Heisman campaign. A big game statistically coupled with a schedule filled with WAC defenses that could not stop a sneeze and you could see a run at the Heisman Trophy by Moore.
2. Colorado at California.- Berkley meet “Berkley east”. This game is interesting for this obvious reason; this will be a test for Colorado as it readies itself to move to the Pac-12. This is a game where Colorado wades into the Pac-12 pool and finds out how far it needs to go to be a contender in the conference. Cal is a mid level Pac-10 program, has not been to a Rose Bowl since 1959, if Colorado gets blown out, things will be bad for Colorado for the next three to four years, at least. This is a game that features two universities with huge “Hippie populations”. Hippie nation rise up and demonstrate, while this game is being played inside the stadium, it could be the better game may be the Hippies vs. Campus Cops demonstration in the parking lot. Okay, I jest. An interesting story line in this one and ESPN may beat this to death; Cal defensive back Darian Hagan Jr. is the son of former CU Buff national championship quarterback Darian Hagan Sr.
3. UConn vs. Michigan – Rich Rodriguez is on the hot seat. Even the devil looks at the seat “R squared” is on and says “that’s hot”. Randy Edsall trots into Michigan Stadium with his UConn Huskies and could arguably be the better program and have better athletes than the maize and blue. Just a thought when you look at Edsall does he appear to be a guy that you could see coaching Michigan? Square jaw, very honest, wears his emotions on his sleeve, etc., he even looks more like a Michigan man than Rich Rod, (yes I know Edsall went to Syracuse). Michigan fans may want Jim Harbaugh, or Les Miles but reality is they will not get those guys to leave programs that are better (LSU) or are in a better location (Stanford) than Michigan. Could this be a coaching interview for Randy Edsall for the Michigan job? A UConn win and UConn may lose its coach next year, a Michigan win and “double R” can relax for a week.
4. LSU vs. North Carolina – Sloppy Joe did a great analysis of this game and in particular the LSU side of this game (the Crowton effect). North Carolina has issues in these types of games, UNC is a program that has had some big wins since Butch Davis was hired, the problem is that UNC has not beaten a good program outside of the ACC, I know it is only year three, but the program needs a signature non-conference win. North Carolina has the most NFL caliber talent on it roster since the Mack Brown era, but the problem is that Carolina never seems to get over the hump. The program seems to always lose a game it should not lose. North Carolina is playing an SEC program in LSU and as we have seen the last few years there is a distinct and clear difference in talent and level of play between the SEC and ACC. If UNC wins the “Heels” become a program that is mentioned as a serious contender for the ACC crown, and a BCS bowl contender. The ACC also earns back some respect nationally. LSU wins; Les Miles can look forward to games in conference and the heat being off for at least one week.
5. TCU vs. Oregon St. – This is a homecoming for the brothers Rodgers who hail from Richmond, Texas. James and Jaquizz will be asked to shoulder an even bigger load for the Beavers this season, and will begin their quest for national notoriety versus a stout TCU defense. This game will feature two athletes from Texas that were not seriously considered as scholarship athletes by the AQ programs in the Lone Star State so they will go into this game with something to prove (yes TCU is not an AQ program). TCU has athletes in their program that know the bothers Rodgers and visa versa so this will be a special game for both sides. It is every Texas kid’s dream to play in any stadium the Cowboys play. TCU wins this game their season becomes a two game season; at Utah, (where the Utes will want revenge for last season’s throttling in Forth Worth) and a home game with BYU (the Frogs should have more talent than the Cougars and should win). So this is huge for any BCS bowl hopes on the way to “purple perfection” for the Frogs.
These five games are games that are interesting in terms of shaping the BCS title game chase, and are games that are must see television. Though three of the five will be worth the doghouse time when you blow off shoe shopping with the wife or girlfriend because there is 50% off sale at you local high end department store but remember there is always one week this season that you can TiVo the games because they will be just clunkers. However, this is not one of those weeks.
Next, weeks three and four.