Obviously the topic of discussion this week is college football with the opening weekend just days away. But, I cannot resist pointing out this one little NFL tidbit before I get started. Ponder this. The NFL has supported Colin Kaepernick’s right to protest perceived oppression by refusing to stand for the National Anthem, the league aired an anti-police halftime show at the Super Bowl, BUT prevented the Dallas Cowboys from showing support for the police officers that were gunned down mercilessly in Dallas earlier this year with stickers on their helmets. Let that sink in folks.
Of course there is college football both Thursday and Friday night but then comes Saturday. The first Saturday of college football is a magical day. This one begins earlier than usual as Georgia Tech takes on Boston College in Ireland at 7:30AM. I can literally watch college football from the moment I wake up to when I finally fall asleep sometime after midnight. Unfortunately for Tech fans, the triple option is not as hard to prepare for if you have plenty of time. Boston College has had months. Eagles by 7.
On the local front, Georgia takes on North Carolina at the Georgia Dome Saturday at 5:30 on ESPN. These Bulldogs fans up here are about to bust in anticipation of Kirby Smart’s first game. I think they are picturing Trump and Hillary in their minds to keep the excitement under control if you get my drift. If the Tarheels somehow pull off a win Saturday, there will be a lot of unhappy campers in the Peach State come Sunday. I think UGA wins by double-digits though.
The noon game for me will be Oklahoma-Houston. The Cougars want to show that they belong in the Big 12 if expansion ever actually happens. The Sooners have their sights set for the college football playoffs. That’s a pretty big game for noon on the first Saturday. Oklahoma by two touchdowns.
At 3:30 I’m all over the LSU-Wisconsin matchup at the incomparable Lambeau Field but I will also be keeping an eye on the UCLA-Texas A&M. LSU is another team with realistic playoff aspirations and what is probably the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy coming into the season in Leonard Fournette. UCLA has sophomore phenom Josh Rosen who suggested that he wasn’t concerned about the loud crowd at College Station because once you get over 50,000 people in the stands it’s all the same. I think he is about to find out how wrong that statement is. LSU by 17, Aggies by 7.
At 8:00 on ABC we get Alabama-USC in Arlington Texas at Jerry’s World. Even though the Tide is ranked #1 in most polls people are whispering that no dynasty lasts forever. And USC is finally at full strength after years of trying to recover from NCAA sanctions and scholarship limits. Alabama is starting a first year quarterback yet again. Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry is gone to the NFL. Of course, none of this matters. Alabama by 14.
At 9:00PM on ESPN is Clemson vs Auburn. Clemson was a score away from winning the national championship last season and returns perhaps the biggest playmaker at quarterback in college football in Deshaun Watson. Auburn is once again breaking in a new defensive coordinator since Will Muschamp bolted for the head coaching job at South Carolina. Auburn might actually be a little better this season. That said, Clemson by 21.
Of course, I will have to flip over to those last two games when my game, UMass at Florida, is in a commercial break. The Gator Nation wants to see if head coach Jim McElwain can successfully defend the SEC East title in his second season at the helm in Gainesville. The Gators have the most depth at every offensive position they’ve had in years. UMass has won just eight games over the last four years. Gators by 38.
Sunday gives us Notre Dame-Texas. Brian Kelly at Notre Dame has had a difficult few weeks. Charlie Strong has had a difficult two years at Texas. Both coaches and teams desperately need this win. Texas by 3.
Monday night we get FSU-Ole Miss. FSU is another team expected to contend for a playoff spot. While Leonard Fournette might be the frontrunner for the Heisman in August, I think Dalvin Cook will be the frontrunner in November if he stays healthy. The biggest question mark in this game is whether FSU’s inexperienced quarterback Deondre Francois can handle what should be a stout Rebel defense. I hope I’m wrong but Noles by 7.
Speaking of the evil empire, as much as it pains me to do so I have to tip my hat to Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph. In case you somehow have not heard the story yet, Rudolph and some other Seminole players visited a local middle school. If you remember middle school you know how isolated some students can become there. Rudolph noticed one such student sitting all alone eating his lunch and chose to sit with him to eat. It made the autistic young man’s day to have a local football hero eat lunch with him. The sports networks can’t wait to run any story of player getting in trouble across the bottom of your TV set for three days, it’s kind of nice to see a story about the really good people playing college football. I cannot find it within myself to pull for your team Mr. Rudolph but I will pull for you. Well played sir.