This article states something I’ve thought about for the last year or so far more eloquently than I can. Here are the quotes I agree with the most:
Ask yourself this: What would happen if tomorrow every single player on the Auburn football team quit and re-formed as a professional team called the Birmingham Bandits. Who would go to their games? Anyone? How much would those talented young men get paid?
Ask yourself this: What would happen if all the ACC basketball schools dropped their players and replaced them with Division II talent? Would North Carolina-Duke suddenly play in empty arenas?
College football is not popular because of the stars. College football is popular because of that first word. Take away the college part, add in money, and you are left with professional minor league football and a developmental basketball league. See how many people go watch that.
This is going up late and it’ll be pretty short. Apologies, I’ve just been swamped at work lately.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- Michigan State @ Wisconsin (ESPN): While these teams have diametrically opposed offenses (Wisconsin is a traditional Big Ten “3 yards and a cloud of dust” kind of team, Mich. State likes to throw it around), neither style has really gotten then anywhere. The Badgers are 3-0, yet it doesn’t really feel that way: their combined margin of victory against their DI-A opponents so far is 11 points, and those opponents were Northern Illinois and Fresno State (in OT, even). Michigan State is basically that, but the other way, with two losses by a combined 5 points, to Central Michigan and Notre Dame. More importantly for both, perhaps, is that they’re 0-0 in the Big Ten. I honestly think either team could win this game, but so for the sake of picking someone I’ll take Wisconsin.
- Indiana @ Michigan (ESPN2): Through processes that I don’t fully understand, Indiana is 3-0. Oh wait, they’ve beaten Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, and Akron. Well, that certainly helps. Michigan is also 3-0, and features a win over ND and a drubbing of their directional patsies, unlike the Hoosiers. I think I’ll take Michigan.
- Southern Mississippi @ Kansas (FSN): USM got themselves a win over a BCS team last weekend by taking Virginia, though UVA is so bad this year I’m not even sure that’s an upset. (In case you’re wondering, the Don’t Fire Al Groh guys are back.) All that said, Kansas should handle USM pretty easily.
- South Florida @ Florida State (ESPNU): USF had a glimmer of hope in this game, I think, but then 5th year senior QB Matt Grothe went down for the count, and so did USF’s chances of beating FSU.
- Minnesota @ Northwestern (BTN): NU QB Mike Kafka surely felt the pains of existence after Northwestern’s defense, or lack thereof, couldn’t stop Syracuse from kicking the go ahead field goal last weekend. While Northwestern has the Big Ten’s first or second best passing attack (depending on what stat you use), Minnesota hasn’t excelled at much of anything and got pounded by weekend by Cal. Since the transitive property doesn’t apply to college football, I feel safe predicting a Northwestern win here.
- Louisiana State @ Mississippi State (SEC/Gameplan): This is already taking too long. LSU. Next!
- North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (Raycom/Gameplan): I intended to write a separate article for this game, but unfortunately I never had a chance to get around to it. First, let me dispel the notion that last year’s UNC team had some sort of magical option-stopping effect, as it’s not true. While Tech only had 7 points, they still ran for 326 yards and 423 yards overall and had 20 first downs. What killed them? 3 turnovers, including two fumbles that led directly to touchdowns. Fast forward to this year, and turnovers have been the least of our worries so far. More worryingly, the Jackets are failing to block anyone consistently, whether it be in the trenches or on the edge. The only thing running worse than the offense right now is the defense. While you should be buying into the Miami hype, Tech hasn’t shown the ability to pressure any quarterback this year.
While UNC’s defensive line is probably not as good as Clemson’s or Miami’s, their front 7 as a unit are probably just as good or better. This makes Tech rediscovering how to block all the more important this week. On the flip side, UNC’s offense has been inconsistent. It looked fine against ECU but horrible in the 12-10 debacle at Connecticut. They won’t pass a whole bunch, relying instead on the their very good running backs and a steady pocket presence from upperclassman Tyler Yates.
Tech has made a variety of changes this past week to try to mitigate issues. On the offensive side of the ball, there is at least one new offensive line starter, and I would expect the A-back rotation to change a bit. On defense, Tech will abandon the 4-2-5 and switch to the 4-3, hoping the extra linebacker can help put some more pressure on the QB. Even though we got torched by Miami, I really don’t think our secondary is that bad – not taking anything away from Jacory Harris, but when you have absolutely no pressure you can always find the open man. Hopefully we can at least touch the QB this week.
In terms of the ACC race, Tech is already down and will, for all intents and purposes, be out if they lose this game, though it will be really darn tough anyway if Miami wins in Blacksburg. (Have I mentioned the fact that our division race will practically be decided before the end of September? What the hell, ACC?)
So, with that, I will close. Go Jackets!
- Arkansas @ Alabama (CBS): Arkansas had an early off week, meaning this is only their third game. That said, I’m not sure I can come up with a good reason they’ll beat Alabama.
- California @ Oregon (ABC/Gameplan): Speaking of huge, early conference games, how about this Pac-10 game? I know most will think they’ve heard this before, but USC has some real issues this year. Meanwhile, Cal has its first chance in a long time to not lay an egg in a big game and establish themselves as the challenger in this conference this year. I still don’t really have a read on this year’s Oregon team, but I do have a read that Jahvid best is really good at running with a football. If Cal can hold on, and I think they will, go ahead and mark October 31st on your calendar.
- Illinois @ Ohio State (ESPN/ABC): Stupid early off weeks. Here’s what I know about Illinois: they got slaughtered by Mizzou in week one and beat DI-AA Illinois State two weeks ago. Thanks guys. I’ll take OSU anyway because I’m lazy and it’s like 3AM here.
- University of Miami @ Virginia Tech (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): Is “DA U” back? Well, they won last year’s ugly contest 16-14 before laying an egg against us the next week, but before that had lost 4 of 5. Suffice it to say, this is the best defense Miami will have faced to date, and it will be interesting to see how Jacory Harris handles the blitzes Bud Foster will throw at him. This is my game of the day, as we need a VPI win to have any realistic chance of still winning our division, but a Miami win produces a legit top-10 team from the ACC going into next week’s contest with Oklahoma. And just based on what I’ve seen so far this year, I think Miami can break through and put enough points on the board to get past Virginia Tech’s scrappy, keep-it-close style of football.
- Texas-El Paso @ Texas (FSN): I’d ordinarily have something witty about concession stand spreads here, but I’ll take Texas.
- Pittsburgh @ North Carolina State (ESPNU): Let’s do the “what do I know?” game again. NCSU is 2-1. Both the wins are over DI-AA teams. The loss was a 7-3 debacle against South Carolina. Pitt is 3-0 against Youngstown State, Buffalo, and Navy. I’d say that’s about a push. I’ll go ahead and take NCSU here, but if they win this game they’ll lose to Duke in two weeks or something like that.
- Western Kentucky @ Navy (CBSCS): Navy gets back on track against the Hilltoppers. Did you know I get this channel in HD, though? It’s pretty awesome.
6:00: Florida @ Kentucky (ESPN2): Blah blah swine flu blah blah Kentucky not that bad blah blah Florida still has Tim Tebow, last I checked.
- Arizona State @ Georgia (ESPNU): This is Arizona State’s first game ever at a SEC stadium, though not the first time UGA’s ever hosted a Pac-10 team. That said, ASU may feel right at home with the lack of defense. Take the over, and, begrudgingly, UGA.
- Ball State @ Auburn (SEC/Gameplan): Hey, Ball State, remember when you undefeated last year going in to the MAC title game and getting some national attention? And then you laid an egg against Buffalo and have lost 5 straight now. Yeah… now that Auburn has seemingly found an offense (don’t ask me how) they should take this pretty easily.
- Arizona @ Oregon State (Versus): Arizona keeps trying to be respectable, and then they do things like “losing to Iowa”. Meanwhile, Oregon State lost to a quietly good Cincy team last weekend, but should recover sufficiently to beat Arizona.
- Louisville @ Utah (CBSCS): So, Utah had their longest unbeaten streak snapped quite rudely last weekend by Oregon. I think this game will be interesting, but I think Utah can still regain some respect and win this one.
- Iowa @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): I just refuse to believe Iowa is anything other than mediocre, despite the 3-0 record. Of course, Penn State’s schedule is arguably just as weak but they at least took care of their patsies how they should. Not sure why this is the primetime game. Penn State, easy.
- Notre Dame @ Purdue (ESPN): So Notre Dame isn’t as good as I though, oh well. I do know Purdue is as bad as I think, though, and probably won’t win this game.
9:15: Texas Tech @ Houston (ESPN2): Sound the sirens, because these are two of the best Air Raid offenses in the country going at it right here. (To read more about their offenses, see here. You’ll feel smarter just by doing so.) Of course, Texas Tech didn’t exactly put up the show we all expected last weekend, while Houston has just been kind of doing it’s thing so far. I expect both teams to score at least 40 points here and this game probably won’t end until 1 AM Eastern. That said, I think TTU recovers from last week and eeks out a win here.
10:15: Washington State @ Southern California (FSN): It’s Wazzou. It’s a vulnerable USC team! But they’re not that vulnerable. USC here.
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As one of my friends said, why would Bizarro Year limit itself to one sport?
At least Michigan State’s upset didn’t count, as it was an exhibition game.