The college football season continues this week, mostly, but not entirely, with conference play. The B1G TEN will start league play next week, though most of the Pac-12 schools, for example, will be in conference play all the way through the season. It does seem like some of the pickings are small this week. Only the Wolverines and Gophers are doing anything interesting this week, traveling to Notre Dame and hosting Syracuse respectively. The rest of the conference is, well, woof. Ohio State is hosting one of the worst FBS squads in the country and teams like Nerdwestern and Nebrasky have gone FCS this week.
Our opponent, Alabama-Birmingham, doesn’t present any opportunities for a relevant TV Guide cover. The city of Birmingham, Alabama, doesn’t either. Fannie Flagg, who you may remember from Fried Green Tomatoes, played Dick Van Dyke’s sister in The New Dick Van Dyke Show. However, I choose not to reward that show and acknowledge it as a thing. So, this week is the return of Jack Webb, the patron saint of my heart. If you have a problem with Jack Webb, I will set you on fire.
Anyways, here is a list of what will be on the moving pictures box this weekend.
- Kent State @ Buffalo (ESPNU, 7:00pm ET). Iiiii want #MACtion tonight. Saaaatisfaction all night! Well, I wasn’t very satisfied with this game. Minus a ham-tastic “Hail Mary” to end the first half, this game was a snoozer. Kent State, under second year head coach Darrell Hazell, won 23-7.
- Brigham Young @ Boise State (ESPN, 9:00pm ET). In a perfect world, this is a Mountain West conference game. The Western Athletic Conference will cease football operations after this season, and the Big East took a body blow with bedrock members like Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia leaving (or in the process of leaving), but I’m not sure any conference took as much of a hit in the realignment saga than the Mountain West Conference. Programs like Brigham Young, Utah, and Texas Christian had done so much, organically, to improve the overall profile of the league that it had very real claims to automatic qualifier status. It was a better league than the ACC or the Big East, and adding Boise State was only going to help. Ultimately, Brigham Young went independent, Utah went west, and Texas Christian joined the I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Southwest Conference. Boise State is Big East bound next year. As for this game, expect Boise State to win. However, it’ll be worth asking just how many growing pains they’ll have this year. That Sparty loss will probably look worse over time and the Miami win wasn’t without problems.
- Baylor @ UL-Monroe (ESPN, 8:00pm ET). If you’re the school with the reigning Heisman winner (albeit in the NFL) that’s playing road games in Monroe, Louisiana…
- Maryland @ West Virginia (FX, 12:00pm ET). Is “infinity” a point spread that can be set by Vegas? Don’t watch this.
- Kentucky @ Florida (“SEC Network”, 12:00pm ET). There was a group of Kentucky fans who honestly thought this is the year that Kentucky breaks the streak. After Kentucky beat Tennessee last year, its first victory in that series since 1984, Wildcat fans thought ending the streak with Florida was next. Kentucky has not beat the Gators since 1986. Only three games were within a touchdown within that streak. Fortunately for Wildcat fans entering this season, it looked like Florida was vulnerable. Last week’s result against Tennessee probably demonstrated that it is not, at least not vulnerable enough for a team that was swept by both FBS programs in its own state.
- UAB @ Ohio State (BTN, 12:00pm ET). This is what you’re watching. More on this later.
- Virginia @ Texas Christian (ESPN, 12:00pm ET). This is the return leg of the 2009 season opener for both squads, which the Battletoads won, 30-14. They coasted on that victory as a claim to the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. So… yeah. Footbaw. You’re not watching this, though.
- UTEP @ Wisconsin (ESPN2, 12:00pm ET). For a program that traditionally shies away from competition in non-conference play, the Badgers certainly picked the uppitiest (sic?) of non-AQs to play this season. The Badgers needed a damned miracle to beat Utah State last week, a program that also beat Utah earlier this season. Next is UTEP, who took Oklahoma to the limit in Week 1.
- Miami (FL) @ Georgia Tech (ESPN3, 12:00pm ET). If only it were 1992, and not 2012…
- Missouri @ South Carolina (CBS, 3:30pm ET). This isn’t Missouri’s first SEC game, but it’s their first SEC game as broadcasted on CBS. Tiger fans will be so happy to get the Unkie Verne Experience.
- Oregon State @ UCLA (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). Is UCLA “back”? Goodness, so many programs are “back” this season, including Florida State and Notre Dame, among others. The Bruins are ranked #19 in the AP, its first top 25 ranking in what seems like forever. They’re relevant for the first time since, what, 1999? Goodness, Bob Toledo must be spinning in his grave. Wait, Bob Toledo’s not dead… yet.
- Temple @ Penn State (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). Penn State needed all sorts of help last year to beat Temple in an ugly 14-10 affair. Subtract 15-20 players and will the Nitts fare any better? For what it’s worth, Temple is one of the few and the proud of the group of teams that will have lost to Maryland this year. There won’t be many of them.
- California @ USC (Pac-12 Network, 6:00pm ET). Well, this is awkward…
- Louisiana State @ Auburn (ESPN, 7:00pm ET). Auburn is a dumpster fire waiting to explode this season, but Louisiana State may be a paper tiger this season. For all the talk of USC’s scholarship limits, or Penn State’s talent exodus, Les Miles’ team has lost roughly 15 scholarship players this year, either to injury (like its starting left tackle), dismissal (Tyrann Mathieu), or various other suspensions. Auburn gets to host this game, so who knows? Don’t be surprised, though, if we end up singing no one’s praises in the SEC this year, beyond the Rammer Jammers.
- Rutgers @ ArKansas (ESPNU, 7:00pm ET). Rutgers is a tough squad in its own right that just dispatched South Florida in Tampa last week. Jawan Jamison could be a first team all-conference tailback in anyone’s league. However, Hogs fans can rejoice knowing that Tyler Wilson has been cleared to play in this game. Smile. SMILE.
- That Team Up North @ Notre Dame (NBC, 7:30pm ET). Would you believe me if I told you that the Wolverines haven’t won a road game against a ranked opponent since 2007? That was against Illinois too, who were ranked only in the Coaches’ Poll for that game. Well, yeah. You actually would believe me if I told you that. For all the grief we like to (justifiably) give Notre Dame fans for claiming Notre Dame is “back” and “returning to glory” every year, hell, this might be real this year. The Irish have probably the best schedule of anyone in college football, and it’s the defense that’s carrying the load. Just ask Sparty. Is Bob Diaco not an idiot after all?
- Vanderbilt @ Georgia (ESPN2, 7:45pm ET). Don’t bother.
- Kansas State @ Oklahoma (FOX, 7:50pm ET). Bill Snyder might be a wizard. Since being coaxed from retirement to fix the mess that his successor, Ron Prince, left in the Little Apple, the 72 year old Snyder has turned Kansas State into a formidable squad. It made the Cotton Bowl last year and is ranked #15 this year, erasing The Artist Formerly Known as “The U” two weeks ago by a score of 52-13. I still think overall talent discrepancies will hinder the Wildcats from getting to the next level, but hell, they’re fun to watch. Gus Johnson will be on the call for this one.
- Clemson @ Florida State (ABC, 8:00pm ET). This game is getting Gameday, and for good reason. The Seminoles are among those teams that are “back” this year and could (but probably won’t) post back-to-back-to-back shutouts. It would be the first time in the BCS era. Alabama can actually do this too against Florida Atlantic, and Ohio State came close in 2009. Meanwhile, Chad Morris may have saved Dabo Swinney’s hide in Clemson. The tandem of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins is as good as any in college football. This is the first ACC game to feature undefeated top ten squads in what seems like forever.
- Arizona @ Oregon (ESPN, 10:30pm ET). The million dollar question is what would have become of Rich Rodriguez in Ann Arbor if he could’ve coaxed Jeff Casteel to come with him. Casteel, a West Virginia native, opted to stay in Morgantown, leaving Rich Rodriguez to his own devices in Ann Arbor. He hired, and eventually fired, a decent defensive coordinator in Scott Shafer. He replaced him with GERG Robinson, and the rest, well, it was just history. After a falling out with Dana Holgorsen, Casteel opted to rejoin Rodriguez and the results have been great so far. Casteel will be put to the test against Chip Kelly’s offensive juggernaut. I don’t know if you should take a drink, or shoot your TV, for every mention of “Black Mamba” during this game, but yeah, do that.