We are one month into the College Football season and last night was a perfect illustration of why College Football is and always will be better than the NFL. Memphis and Cincinnati appeared to be nothing more than a non-descript Thursday night game from the American Conference that harkened back to the days of Metro Conference Basketball with Bob Huggins and Larry Finch going at it. It was however, very entertaining. Yes, it was littered with penalties and mistakes but the two teams combined for 99 points. I’m not sure Florida scored that much all of last season. And where else, can you see a shirtless fat guy playing an air guitar on a megaphone? Google it, it’s a classic.
Meanwhile the NFL and CBS were serving up the Redskins and the Giants which put the “B” in “Boring.” Redskins fans need to realize something quickly. Your team sucks and as long as Daniel Snyder is the owner, you are going to suck. Successful organizations begin from the top and this multi-millionaire former coupon salesman knows nothing about football but pretends that he does. He’s always wasted money on lousy draft picks, washed up free agents and coaches whose better days were clearly behind them. A few years ago, the organization basically traded away the world to draft “RG III” (or as radio host Steve Czaban in Washington calls him “Bobby Three Sticks”). I assume Snyder and his underlings were blown away by Griffin’s Senior Year at Baylor where he won a Heisman Trophy. He’s now sitting the bench behind a former Fourth Round pick whose not that good either. Bad quarterback play equals bad team and make no mistake the Redskins are just bad. So, don’t waste your time watching NFL games with teams led by morons like Daniel Snyder. Stick to the college game and enjoy Saturdays because they will always be better than Sundays, and certainly better than the Thursday trash the NFL serves up each week.
There are some interesting games this weekend. The most interesting to me is UCLA at Arizona. The Bruins lost all everything linebacker Miles Jack this week to a knee injury. He’s out for the season and he’s eligible for the NFL draft next April. Forget UCLA and go get paid. If you’ve ever been the University of Arizona, you know what I’m saying when I tell you that if you are an 18 year old boy, you should never want to go anywhere else. The weather is always warm, the campus is beautiful and what’s walking around it is easy on the eyes as well. Of course, I know not everyone wants to go to Arizona or can go to Arizona, but if you had a choice between Arizona and say spending four years in Minnesota, why even bother to consider your options. As for the game, UCLA’s freshman quarterback has been pretty impressive, but he’s a freshman and he’s going to play like one sometimes. So, this week is it. Arizona and it’s tricky 3-3-5 defense drives the Bruins crazy and sends Tuscon into a tizzy. There is a certain faction of Va. Tech fans who want Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez to replace Frank Beamer. Those people are idiots. Rich Rod does a nice job, but his abrasive and boorish personality rub some the wrong way. He also tends to let off the field pissing matches with his bosses (see shredding documents at West Virginia because he didn’t get his way on some new stuff for the football program) effect his decision making. Frank Beamer is a low key easy going guy. If Va. Tech is crazy enough to replace him with the exact opposite, then the school will get what it deserves.
Speaking of Va. Tech, the Hokies are on the road at East Carolina. These two have played 19 times since their first meeting in 1956 which for some reason took place in Bluefield, WV. These games are never easy for Va. Tech. They’ve won 13 of the 19 meetings but in the last three they are 2-1 and have only outscored ECU 63-48. I’m not going to be the least bit surprised if ECU wins, but I’ll take Va. Tech on the road. On a side note, while working in television in the 90s, the ECU mascot kept getting in the way of my camera on the sideline and I threatened to deck him if he didn’t stop so while I’ll love their coach Ruffin McNeal, I still recall that old saying that “Go to East Carolina or EZU, the only thing easier than getting in, is getting out.”
For some unknown reason while West Virginia quit playing Pittsburgh a few years ago, they kept playing Maryland. I don’t know why exactly but this will be the 52nd time they’ve played when they meet tomorrow in Morgantown. WVU leads 27-22-1 and I expect them to win again if for no other reason than Maryland coach Randy Edsell has a good awful record against West Virginia. The former Connecticut coach has played West Virginia 11 times and is just 2-9, and 1 -3 at Maryland. West Virginia really needs this win because in the next 4 weeks they play Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech before the schedule lightens up a bit in November.
Attention, all Auburn football players here is an important announcement: Please realize that Leonard Fornette is on the field for LSU and you need to tackle him. Auburn never figured out how to stop LSU’s stud sophomore last week and if they couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t expect Syracuse to have any luck. LSU wins big at the Carrier Dome.
Finally, on the highlighted games of the week comes Tennessee and Florida. In 2005, this series stood 19-15-1 in favor of Tennessee. 10 years later it’s 25-19-1 in favor of Florida. Florida has won 10 straight. The best thing that could happen for Tennessee is that Ron Zook suddenly reappear at Florida’s head coach. Not likely. The key factor in this game is that the team who runs the ball the best, wins. Florida’s defense is nasty giving up just 15 points a game and holding teams to just 55.3 yards per game on the ground. Regardless, I’m playing a hunch. All streaks come to an end at some point so I’m picking Tennessee. But, if they don’t beat Florida this year, it might be a long drought before they do because Florida sits right in the middle of enormous high school football talent.
Other games this weekend Virginia gets hammered by Boise State in the Friday night rain in Charlottesville, Stanford over Oregon State, Michigan over BYU, Michigan State over Central Michigan, Nebraska over Southern Miss, Navy wins its second American Conference game by beating Connecticut, Bowling Green outscores Purdue, If you spend any time at all watching Kansas at Rutgers, a giant boxing glove should launch out of your television and punch you in the face. This is the “grease fire” game of the week. Someone has to win, so I’ll take Rutgers; Ga. Tech rebounds from last week’s loss at Notre Dame to beat Duke, South Carolina is a 14 point favorite against Central Florida. So how bad must Central Florida be? Steve Spurrier is looking like a desperate coach by starting a true freshman quarterback, but Central Florida is horrid so take South Carolina, Boston College over Northern Illinois, La. Tech over Florida International, New Mexico over Wyoming in the Mountain West opener for both teams; Baylor cooks Rice, Buffalo over Nevada, Penn State over San Diego State, Ohio State over Western Michigan assuming that Cardell Jones stops being a gigantic head case, Iowa over North Texas, Minnesota over Ohio, Western Kentucky over Miami, Ohio, Notre Dame for some reason is playing U-Mass, Irish cruise in this one, Appalachian State over Old Dominion, Oklahoma State over Texas, Illinois over Middle Tennessee State, Alabama over Louisiana-Monroe, TCU beats Texas Tech in Lubbock, California over Washington, Eastern Michigan over Army because Army is horrendous, Toledo over Arkansas State, Ole Miss over Vanderbilt (I don’t care that Ole Miss beat Alabama, I’m still not buying it), Texas A&M drops Arkansas to 1-3 in a game at the Cowboys’ Stadium in Arlington. Arkansas coach Brett Bilema is a good coach but needs to shut his mouth and fix his team rather than sniping at other coaches like he’s a third grader, Akron over La. Lafayette, Colorado over UT-San Antonio as Larry Coker coaching career appears to be on life support, Missouri to beat Kentucky in Lexington, Auburn over Mississippi State, Houston over Texas State, N.C. State over South Alabama, Wisconsin over Hawaii, Ga. Southern over Idaho, Arizona State over USC, Wake Forest over Indiana, Marshall over Kent State, Charlotte over Florida Atlantic, Northwestern over Ball State, San Jose State over Fresno State, Louisville finally wins against FCS Samford, UNC over Delaware, Georgia over Southern, Colorado over Nicholls State, SMU over James Madison, UTEP beats Incarnate Word, and UNLV gets its new coach his first win over Idaho State.
Our FCS game of the week takes us to Carbondale, Illinois for the first ever meeting between the Flames of Liberty University and the Salukis of Southern Illinois. Liberty is 2-1 while SIU is still looking for its first win. The Saluki is an ancient Egyptian Hunting Dog known as the oldest pure breed dog in the world. The Saluki became associated with the school due to the fact that Southern Illinois is referred to as “Little Egypt.” It earned that name — as legend has it — because poor growing conditions in the northern part of the state drove farmers to the Southern part of the State where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers converge in a fertile growing area similar to Egypt’s Nile Delta.
Our Division II game of the week features second ranked Ferris State hosting Saginaw Valley State in an afternoon game in Big Rapids, Michigan. Ferris State is a member of the Division II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and was founded in 1884 as the Big Rapids Industrial School. Notable Bulldog alums include Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, whose career has ascended rapidly, and former Illinois governor George Ryan, who is notable for two things: 1) abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, and 2) doing time in Federal prison for corruption.
For Division III we welcome back to college football the latest starting league in the country, the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The NESCAC plays just 8 games and it’s teams do not participate in the post-season. The most famous NESCAC schools are Amherst and Williams, but our pick is Trinty at the Colby College Mules in Waterville, Maine. Colby is most famous for being the birth place of the Sigma Kappa Sorority which continues today with chapters at schools across the country, but not at its birthplace as Colby no longer has fraternity and sorority life, but they do have an astroturf football field so they got that going for them which is nice.
NAIA game of the week features the second ranked Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders at Union College. Lindsey Wilson is tucked into the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky and only revived football in 2010 after a 75 year absence.
Finally, the Junior College game of the week features the Hutchinson College Blue Dragons against Dodge City Junior College. Wonder if Festus suits up for Dodge City? Regardless, Hutchinson is ranked eighth in the JC National Rankings and is situated in Hutchinson, Kansas which is known as “Salt City” nicknamed as a result of the Salt Mines which dot the area. Fittingly enough, Hutchinson closes its season every year in its own bowl game known as the “Salt Bowl”. What else right.
This week’s beer of the week Leinenkugels’ October Shady. Have a couple and enjoy the weekend.