Saturday, September 02, 2006

Games of the day

Today is the first Saturday of the college football season. It is true that baseball is my favorite sport, but even with that in mind, I just live for this time of year. There is nothing quite like college and prep football. The atmosphere just screams "go team go," even when you are watching games on television. Even the food looks and tastes better during football season.

A few friends have asked me for a "lineup," as in wondering what games I will be watching and what games will be worth watching today. Here is a list of the games that I think will be the best of the day, and I'll tell you why.

Vanderbilt (0-0, 0-0 away)
(14) Michigan (0-0, 0-0 home)
12:00pm Eastern ESPN

Sure, the team I hate worse than Woody Hayes ever did is going to win this one pretty easily, but the question will be by how much? Several people much closer to the Michigan program than I am have told me that Michigan's year won't add up to much, and they may not deserve that #14 ranking. What will the Vandy game tell us about how good (or bad) these guys are?

3:30 PM ET
Northern Illinois (0-0, 0-0 away)
(1) Ohio State (0-0, 0-0 home)

I expect Ohio State to win this game and so does everyone else who knows anything about college football, but this game may be worth your time if you aren't going down to Neyland Stadium today (and therefore had better be there by the time this game kicks off) because the Huskies have a history of upsetting major Big Ten opponents, nearly all of which have occurred on the road. What's more, Northern Illinois head coach Joe Novak was an assistant on the 1987 Indiana team that pulled off one of the biggest upsets of a top-ranked opponent in college football history. The opponent was then- #1 Ohio State.

(9) California (0-0, 0-0 away) ESPN
(23) Tennessee (0-0, 0-0 home)

Oh sure, wasn't going to pick this one as an interesting game. Cal starts the year as the favorite for the Pac-10 title for the first time in...ever. It is also not often that Cal begins a year in the top 10. This game will be a test of whether Cal is worth all the hype that now surrounds that program. This is a make or break game for Tennessee and for Philip Fulmer. The Vols begin their season with the toughest opening three games (Cal, Air Force, Florida) in many a year. A win here would go a long way in solidifying the Vols' season and Fulmer's job. A loss would likely spiral the team into chaos similar to last year and if that happens, it would likely cost Fulmer his job. "Must win" for the Vols is a major understatement.

7:45 PM ET
Washington State (0-0, 0-0 away)
(4) Auburn (0-0, 0-0 home)


You would think this one would be easy for Auburn, and by rights it should be. The Tigers, however, have a history of blowing it against Pac-10 opponents at home. Worth flipping to during commercials while watching:

8:00 PM ET
(2) Notre Dame (0-0, 0-0 away)
Georgia Tech (0-0, 0-0 home)

Because of the Fighting Irish' independent status, it is not at all uncommon for their schedule to be frontloaded, and such is the case this year, as they open the season on the road against the Ramblin' Wreck. We'll get a taste as to whether Notre Dame is as good as the critics (I picked them #1) or Charlie Weis seem to think.


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