You might have heard that college football is beginning this week. Sorry North Dakota State-Montana, the season really begins Thursday night. There will also be games Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. College football never sleeps.
As a regular feature on the blog this season, I’m going to pick the five best games in the sport from week to week. It’ll be a challenging task – there are 10 games in the mix for this week.
But with apologies to Baylor-SMU, Washington-Boise State (Chris Peterson returns to his old haunting grounds), Arizona State-Texas A&M, Louisville-Auburn and Michigan-Utah, I’ve gone with five others. Although Jim Harbaugh’s debut against a good Utes team should probably be on the mix. I do admit to some geographical bias when it comes to my weekly Top 5, however.
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5) Texas at Notre Dame, Saturday – I believe in Longhorns coach Charlie Strong, even though Texas was just 6-7 last season. But this isn’t the year for a major breakthrough. I’m not sure I believe in Brian Kelly and the Irish, even with all the preseason hype. Isn’t there always preseason hype about Notre Dame? I’m going to wait and see what’s real. I do think Notre Dame is real enough to win this one against a young Texas team that is at least a year away. And who knows? – maybe this Irish hype is legit this time. There sure is a bunch of it.
4) Ohio State at Virginia Tech, Monday – I still don’t understand how the Buckeyes lost to the Hokies last season, in Columbus of all places, except to recognize that strange things can happen in the early going of a college football season. Ohio State went on, of course, to win the national championship. Virginia Tech limped home to finish 7-6. Ohio State has some key suspensions going into this game. Virginia Tech is at home with what should be a better team than the one that upended the Buckeyes in 2014. But no, no way. No chance there’s an upset this time.
3) BYU at Nebraska, Saturday – I’m intrigued by Mike Riley, the new Nebraska coach. He’s night and day from Bo Pelini, the white hat to Pelini’s black. Riley is a good guy and a good coach but is he up to the Nebraska job? By the way, the Huskers still feel like a bad fit in the Big Ten. Most Nebraska fans I know agree with me on that assertion.
2) TCU at Minnesota, Thursday – Jerry Kill, Minnesota’s coach, is another of the good guys in college football. And he’s from Cheney. And he’s a heck of a coach. And he’s getting the No. 2-ranked Horned Frogs at home with a good team. But not a good enough team to derail a focused TCU team intent on getting into the College Football Playoff this time around after being shunned a season ago despite a 12-1 record. Good luck, Jerry. You’re going to need it.
1) Wisconsin vs. Alabama, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Saturday – This is the only game of the weekend involving two ranked teams – Alabama is No. 3; Wisconsin No. 20. So it’s gotta be the game of the week, right? Except that I expect the Tide to roll in this one. Expect a lot of running because it’s what both teams do best. And did you know this will be the first Wisconsin-Alabama meeting since 1928? Wisconsin won that one, 15-0. Don’t expect a repeat.