"Football is only a game. Spiritual things are eternal. Nevertheless, Beat Texas" - Church Sign in Arkansas, 1969
I know there's a lot of meaningful stuff going on the world that we should probably be dedicating our attention and resources to, but, hell if the only thing I want to talk about is college football. And I'm guessing it's the same for you since you're reading this right now.
You had your Thursday Night appetizer. It was nice to see the restaurant open for business again but let's face it...the main course hasn't been served just yet. Let's find out what looks tasty and what might be worth pushing to the side of your plate in this weekend's college football buffet. (All times are Eastern.)
GIVE ME A HEAPING HELPING
Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (ESPN, Monday 8pm) - The big game of week one isn't until Monday but you know who's already won the game? Nike, of course. Both teams feature those stupid Pro Combat unis. Boise traded in their trademark electric blue for dull gray while Virginia Tech just went for the "make us look just like Oregon State" market. Good work everyone!
Connecticut @ Michigan (ABC, 3:30pm) - The biggest game in UConn's history is upon them and Greg Lloyd returns just in the nick of time to lead them. Consecutive 3-9 and 5-7 seasons have shaken the faith of the Michigan football fan base, they need this win.
Washington @ Brigham Young (CBS College, 7pm) - Jake Locker, if you want to justify the hype we've all had to sit through the last three months, nothing short of nine TD passes here will appease us. This game gets the added bonus of being BYU's first since the whole leaving-the-MWC-no-wait-we'll-come-back-no-wait-we're-not fiasco.
Oregon State vs TCU (ESPN, 7:45pm) - Don't be fooled by Oregon State's horrible new uniforms, they're back to being good. Or at least seem that way. TCU will try to repeat their Fiesta Bowl-reaching performance from last season and they'll do in new uniforms that seem downright quaint by comparison.
I'LL HAVE A SCOOP OF THAT, PLEASE
Illinois @ Missouri (FSN, 12:30pm) - The Tigers are reeling from the news that Derrick Washington is "permanently suspended." They'll jump head-first into their rivalry game with Illinois, a game that Illini fans would much rather be played later in the season or not at all.
Texas @ Rice (ESPN, 3:30pm) - One of the major off-season stories for Texas has been the introduction of the H-back position to their offense. Expect them to work out the kinks in this one as they try to get back to the National Title game.
Purdue @ Notre Dame (NBC, 3:30pm) - The Brian Kelly Era begins with a good test from the Boilermakers. This game will be won in the trenches, that is if Kelly spent enough time on the practice field and out of NBC's office to work it out.
LSU vs. North Carolina (ABC, 8pm) - And so, the hammer dropped this morning on UNC. They'll be without 12 players for this game and the suspensions are still rolling in (Game preview revisions and cross-outs commence!). Meanwhile, LSU fans have no problem letting you know they expect to win this game and a whole lot more.
I'LL TASTE IT FIRST...
Miami (OH) @ Florida (ESPN, 12pm) - For the first time since 2001, Charlie Strong will not be coaching the Gators defense. Teryl Austin, that white-hot spotlight you're seeing and feeling isn't going anywhere.
Northwestern @ Vanderbilt (CSS, 7:30 pm) - Vanderbilt's stated goal of "not finishing in last" can get a kickstart with a win here. Interestingly, Northwestern and Vandy are the Kennedy/Lincoln of the Big Ten/SEC.
Cincinnati @ Fresno State (ESPN2, 10pm) - Cincinnati's recent success is in danger of becoming a wacky footnote in the history of college football ("Hey, remember when Cincinnati went to the Sugar Bowl? No?"). A win here keeps them on the path to another Big East title.
Wisconsin @ UNLV (Versus, 11pm) - Like you're watching something else at that time? And if the unbiased Wisconsin bloggers are to be believed, this is going to be a really good Badger team. So...watch.
San Jose State @ Alabama (PPV, 7pm) - This one became slightly tastier when news broke that Mark Ingram would be out. Couple that with the loss of DE Marcell Dareus and the microscopic lens on the Tide just got a little closer.
I'LL KEEP THAT IN MIND FOR THE NEXT TRIP
Villanova @ Temple (ESPN3.com, Friday, 5pm) - The Battle of Philadelphia is actually more intriguing that it sounds on paper. This Temple is way better than the one you remember from the 90's. And Villanova might just be the best team in the FCS...and they beat Temple last year to prove it.
Colorado @ Colorado State (MTN, 2pm) - This ain't intramurals, brother. The annual in-state rivalry clash is step one on Colorado's quest for a bowl game.
Kentucky @ Louisville (ABC, 3:30pm) - Kentucky expects the Louisville Cardinals, led by former Urban Meyer assistant Charlie Strong, to run the spread option against them on Saturday. Louisville wants you to know they hate Kentucky, just not enough to hold a Hate Kentucky Day. Shouldn't that be everyday?
UCLA @ Kansas State (ABC, 3:30pm) - Kansas State's Carson Coffman might be the starting quarterback this week, but so far, he's only proven that he's a September quarterback. He can change that with a good performance against "lowly" UCLA.
New Mexico @ Oregon (OSN, 3:30pm) - No Jeremiah MAsoli? No problem. The Ducks will go with Darron Thomas in their opener.
Washington State @ Oklahoma State (FSN, 7pm) - The Cowboys are running a version of the Air Raid this season on offense. If there's anything that gives Wazzou fans hope, it's that OSU suffers from youth, inexperience and a lack of Russell Okung.
SMU at Texas Tech (ESPN, Sunday, 3:30pm) - The Tommy Tuberville Era begins in Lubbock. SMU brings a good offense to the table but Texas Tech's offense should run wild. As usual.
I DON'T KNOW...SMELLS KINDA FUNNY...
Arizona @ Toledo (ESPN, Friday 8pm) - This one should actually be a lot closer than you might think. Two good offenses will put on a scoring show. Plus, the Glass Bowl has become a den of BCS upsets.
Samford @ Florida State (ESPNU, 12pm) - Thus begins the Jimbo Fisher Era. Noles fans are going to have to be patient, if that's possible. Especially with the zone-based defense.
Syracuse @ Akron (ESPN3.com, 6pm) - Syracuse and Akron are two schools weirdly connected, from the Zips win in the Dome two years ago to the many coaches and recruits that they've shared.
Memphis @ Mississippi State (ESPNU, 7pm) - The only thing worst than Memphis offense last season was it's defense. The Bulldogs look to add to their big lead in this series (31-11).
Maryland vs. Navy (ESPN, Monday 4pm) - Is this season Ralph Friedgen's last stand? After last year's 2-10 finish, that Orange Bowl berth is a distant memory.
NO THANKS, PLATE'S FULL
Western Michigan @ Michigan State (ESPN2, 12pm) - The Broncos aren't the class of the MAC this year, but they should be good enough to at least give pause. Michigan State is relying on QB Kirk Cousins to get it done.
Youngstown State @ Penn State (BTN, 12pm) - In 45 years of coaching, Joe Paterno has never started a true freshman at quarterback on day one. He did this year by naming Robert Bolden.
Eastern Illinois @ Iowa (BTN, 12pm) - Last year the ranked Hawkeyes hosted a team called the Panthers in the first week and nearly got upset. They're trying not to do that again.
Louisiana-Lafayette @ Georgia (SECN, 12pm) - Georgia fans aren't too worried about this one. They're busy thinking of what to drink during the game.
Weber State @ Boston College (ESPN3.com, 1pm) - Jonathan Coleman's story just keeps getting better and better.
South Carolina State @ Georgia Tech (ESPN3.com, 1pm) - South Carolina State is the first Historically Black College that Georgia Tech has ever met on the gridiron and this is only their seventh game ever against a FCS opponent. So this should go well.
North Texas @ Clemson (ESPNU, 3:30pm) - North Texas coach Todd Dodge is a Texas high school football legend. Unfortunately for him, Clemson is a university.
Jacksonville State @ Mississippi (CSS, 3:30pm) - Cornerback T.J. Heath is one of the best at the FCS level and should be a good test for the mostly untested Ole Miss receivers. Otherwise, this should be all Rebels.
Coastal Carolina @ West Virginia (Big East, 3:30pm) - If West Virginia's new uniforms say anything, it's that "we hate miners." At least that's what I'm told.
UC Davis @ California (Comcast SportsNet, 4pm) - Not many folks are interested in this one since Cal is a) unranked and b) playing a team that most people east of the Sierras have never heard of.
Western Carolina @ North Carolina State (ESPN3.com, 6pm) - Western Carolina's marching band, known as the Pride of the Mountains, boasts nearly 350 members and is "the largest college marching band in the Carolinas and Tennessee." So that's something.
UT-Martin @ Tennessee (PPV, 6pm) - Vols QB Matt Simms is "just going to try and stay focused and not keep my mouth wide open." Fair enough.
North Dakota State @ Kansas (FCS, 7pm) - Kansas' leading returning rusher is now a linebacker. Their untested running attack will get a tune up in this one.
Arkansas State @ Auburn (FSN Regional, 7pm) - Auburn sure loves their songs and war cries, don't they?
Stony Brook @ South Florida (Big East, 7pm) - The Skip Holtz Era begins with a game against a not-that-shabby FCS opponent.
Western Kentucky @ Nebraska (FSN PPV, 7pm) - Nebraska's keys to beating Western Kentucky? Pretty sure showing up is one of them.
Utah State @ Oklahoma (FSN PPV, 7pm) - The success of Oklahoma's rotation of defensive linemen is going to hinge greatly on two things. First, the health of Adrian Taylor's ankle. Second, the maturation of Casey Walker, Stacey McGee and Jamarkus McFarland.
Tennessee Tech @ Arkansas (PPV, 7pm) - Arkansas QB recently told reporters that he likes to shower "like five times a day." TT would do well to try and shake Mallett's hand with their dirty paws as much as possible.
Stephen F. Austin @ Texas A&M (N/A, 7pm) - The Lumberjack offense is led by DI-AA All-American candidate Jeremy Moses, who passed for 4124 yards, 40 TDs, and 21 INTs last season. Not bad.
Portland State at Arizona State (FSArizona, 10:15pm) - While many Pac-10 teams are challenging themselves opening weekend, ASU is hosting a cupcake. Is that the wrong move for them?