Now that we have downed our appetizers of Cal-Hawaii and Charleston Southern-North Dakota State to begin the 2016 college football season, it’s time to begin the feast. And a feast it is. This is the first official week of the college football season, by which I mean the first full slate of games-with Gameday and everything! The season will begin with a ton of great games stretched out over a five day window, so we have got a lot to dig in to.
Steve Spurrier Memorial Shift
Before he decided not to return to South Carolina while on TPC Louisiana following the displaced loss to LSU, the Ol Ball Coach realized he could easily get a few extra days on the links by playing the opening game of the season on Thursday. He’s gone, but South Carolina is still honoring that tradition and so will I, dammit.
But honestly, this Thursday night is pretty damn lackluster. South Carolina at Vanderbilt is the biggest draw name wise, and that really isn’t saying much at all, now is it? But while that game will be certified ass, there are some possibilities for some entertainment anyway: Willie Fritz’s #NewTulane will test their mettle against ACC barnacle Wake Forest AKA the last power five team people say when asked to name every FBS team. I’m not kidding, try this with your friend. Bonus points if they can name Wake’s head coach.
Also on Thursday night: college football’s vortex of chaos travels down to the Miami Metropolitan Area to play FIU. I’d say Indiana is going to romp the Panthers, but honestly I’m not that sold on the idea that Indiana learned how to put away teams, regardless of talent.
Louisville is going boatrace Charlotte, and Tennessee will eventually put away App State, but both of those games may be good for a bit, specifically the latter. When those games do turn bad, you have Rice-Western Kentucky and Oregon State-Minnesota to turn to, provided you receive the CBS Sports Network (which from here on out will be referred to as The Forbidden Network) and the Big Ten Network.
High As Buffs Shift
Friday night starts off innocently enough with the extremely forgettable Upstate New York 1-2 punch of Albany-Buffalo and Colgate-Syracuse (with Army playing Temple on The Forbidden Network, which may end up being one of the more watchable games of the night), but at 7:00 the Mile High Showdown kicks off on ESPN and one hour later Kansas State heads out to the farm to catch work from one Christian McCaffrey. That’s on FS1 and at the same time on the U, Toledo goes back to Arkansas to enforce their title defense of the state against the Red Wolves.
None of these games are exactly blockbusters, Kansas State-Stanford is big only on name recognition alone, but that’s all about to change.
Rebecca Lowe Shift
There will be no international soccer to wake up to on Saturday due to the International Break, but college football has our back though an international game oddly enough. Wake up bright and early to bask in the terrible football that is Georgia Tech-Boston College live in Dublin, because we want the Irish to absolutely hate college football.
Bang In Your Ying Yang Shift
This shift is obviously headlined with the best game of the weekend (in my opinion) and that’s okay because the one Oklahoma-Houston game in NRG is better than the four normal B1G Nooners we get once the conference slate begins. Sadly I don’t think Houston is quite on the same level as Oklahoma but that should be a great game for the most part. A week after travelling to Australia, Hawaii ships up to Michigan to get beaten down by HARBAW. This is on the docket not because of the game but so we can gauge where Michigan is at this year. The rest of the shift is your standard noon non-conference #BEATEMDOWN fodder, with South Alabama traveling to Mississippi State, Western Michigan rowing the boat down to Evanston to see if they can’t beat Northwestern, and Virginia Tech tuning up for the Battle at Bristol with Liberty. The one outlier is Missouri at West Virginia, which is in the alt slot because it’s not important enough to put on your main screen but Fox Sports’ streaming service is so bad that you cannot use it and other ESPN streams at the same time, so you have to pick up a third screen or flip back during commercials like it’s 1999. Not that it matters, Holgo and the ‘Eers should run away with it. Rutgers-Washington is another alternative if you’re unsure on how you feel about the Huskies this season.
Zing In Your Zang Zang Shift
The afternoon shift is headlined by your Tigers of purple and gold with their game against Wisconsin. I’m sure we will have enough insight to this game as it is, so I’m going to spare you here. But overshadowed by LSU playing Louisiana North is UCLA travelling to College Station in a battle of two teams who have massively underachieved in this decade. UCLA wasn’t bad in 2015, but it feels like we have been waiting a while for UCLA to take the next step and win the PAC-12 and become major players in the national picture. On the flip side of the coin, the temperature of Kevin Sumlin’s seat is well documented. Both teams are loaded with talent, but which one can overcome themselves and win this huge non conference game?
The Miami University of Ohio (OH) plays Iowa and Louisiana Tech pays Arkansas, but those are just time wasters for the third bullet in the shift: North Carolina and Georgia.
I have been waiting for weeks to stand on this soapbox. While the media and college football as a whole have pegged Tennessee and Washington to be their dark horse for the year, I’ve been getting higher and higher on North Carolina.
After a terrible game against South Carolina to start the year (that makes no god damn sense now that we can look back it), the Tar Heels ripped off 11 straight wins, locking up the ACC Coastal with a perfect conference regular season. Sure, they avoided Florida State and Clemson over that schedule, but they did it anyway. And when they did have to play Clemson in the ACC Championship, they were a blown call on an onsides away from stealing a title from Clemson and taking their spot in the playoff. And then Art Briles got a month to prepare for a bowl game against them. The Tar Heels went 11-3 albeit a shaky 11-3. Now here’s why I’m so high on them: they have athletes all over the field. They lose QB Marquise Williams and top receiver Quinshad Davis aaaaaaand that’s about it. Mitch Trubisky is taking over and his job should be pretty damn easy given that he has Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard returning. Switzer is already one of my favorite college football players because he’s such a devastating threat deep downfield with an average of nine yards per catch and a 71% catch rate. And he is fast as fuck. Oh, and they return a 1,400+ yard rusher in Elijah Hood. If their defense has gelled into something semi respectable, college football will be put on notice with a gashing of Kirby Smart’s debut as Georgia head coach.
Kent State and Penn State are your alts for this shift, and those kinda speak for themselves.
Ting In Your Tang Shift
Alabama is going to beat USC. Watch it anyway because you want to believe that USC can win and use this time to ponder the fact that your hatred of Alabama is so big that you will root for USC against them.
Do the same for Clemson and Auburn, even though you probably don’t hate Clemson and you most certainly hate Auburn more than Clemson. Use this time to ponder the similarities between Auburn and Clemson (ACC affiliation) and consider their differences (lake).
Southern Miss-Kentucky and UMass-Florida are here too. Fresno State-Nebraska as well.
Wild Mormon Saturday Night Shift
There are only two games on Saturday night, and one is on The Forbidden Network. The other is Arizona and BYU on the mothership. The game will be played in Glendale. Taysom Hill beat Tanner Magnum both in the BYU quarterback race and best porn star name competition. Due to harsh prerequisites, Kalani Sitake was hired to replace departed head coach Bronco Mendenhall and while Mendenhall left the pantry full for Sitake, winning at BYU has always been a tough order. Meanwhile Rich Rod is still at Arizona, but he’s changed some things. And by “changed some things”, I mean “undid some changes”. What Rodriguez did was rehire Jeff Casteel and his 3-3-5 as his defensive coordinator. This is important because Rich Rod is 18-30 as head coach without Jeff Casteel compared to 90-38. Sure there are some sample issues there, but it boils down to one thing: Rodriguez is more comfortable working with Casteel and maybe that will be what Arizona needs to compete in the PAC-12.
The Echoes Shift
Notre Dame had a rough 10-3 year, if such a thing has ever existed. After losing a tight game in a Clemson monsoon, the Irish avoided a narrow death at the hands of Temple before escaping Boston College. After a year of narrow misses and one blow to one of the nation’s best teams, Notre Dame finally gave in and fell two points shy of Stanford before getting dropped in the Fiesta Bowl.
For all intents and purposes, Notre Dame was the worst best team in college football.
Texas wishes that they had that problem. Charlie Strong’s seat is probably the hottest in college football and he’s in one of the most demanding cultures in college football. The proud burnt orange Longhorns went 5-7, and an incredibly erratic 5-7 at that and missed a bowl game.
Texas missed a bowl game.
I’m not sure I really need to expand upon that narrative.
The Happiest Shift On Earth
Ole Miss. Florida State. The two had remarkably similar 2015 seasons and are at nearly the same place right now. Both had unexpected crazy losses that held them from the playoffs (Arkansas, Georgia Tech) and questions lingering in 2016 (defensive replacements for Ole Miss [among other things] and steady quarterback play for Florida State due to Sean Maguire being out with injury). Both teams are at the fringe of being a playoff quality team and it’s not crazy to think that come December, this loss could be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. This is the biggest game of the weekend and it deserves the Labor Day evening time slot.