Wednesday, August 08, 2007

THE SEASON AHEAD: WEEK 2 BETTER THAN NASCAR


Week 2 starts off with at least one disadvantage: No Saturday Night Football on ABC, which means no drunken Musberger slurring his way through an incoherent rant about those bloggers and their Interwebnetworld.

No, instead ABC -- or, more appropriately, ESPN on ABC (as if you were unaware of the DISNEYESPNABCHALFOFSOUTHAMERICA corporate juggernaut) -- has decided to show racing. On a Saturday night in the fall. Racing.

You want fast? There's LSU. You want collisions? Watch Jimmy Clausen get his skull beat in when Penn State's linebackers spend more time in the backfield than Notre Dame's running back.


Notre Dame QB only wishes it felt this painless.

But Week 2 still has intriguing nonconference battles, and at least one conference rivalry sometimes overlooked by the chattering class.

For the early set, there's the 11:10 a.m. ET game between West Virginia and Marshall. Aside from the fact that it is an unspeakable crime against humanity to televise a football game that starts before noon ET, it probably won't be a very good one. Marshall is expected to be a middling team in Conference USA. West Virginia is thinking national title. Unless some prominent football program starts talking about offering Rich Rodriguez a job, look for this one to be over by the end of the first half.


Go ahead and issue the severe couch-burning warning.

Noon -- which is, after all, when football games are supposed to start -- brings a pair of hmmm matchups. Not be-in-front-of-our-TV-because-you've-got-to-see-this games, but interesting nonetheless. Nebraska at Wake Forest is set for ESPN, which is also the network that's supposed to be showing WVa-Marshall. Steve Slaton might be fast, but C&F is relatively sure he can't warp time, which means both games are probably regional action. Or there's a misprint on the schedule. Either is possible.

Also in the lunchtime hour is Miami (FL) at Oklahoma, which is on ABC, I guess before the racin' gets underway. Oklahoma is on the way down and Miami is getting very cozy, so this could be an interesting one.

Another pair of good games begins at 3:30 p.m. ET, when Oregon travels to Michigan, (referees in tow?), looking for an improbable victory, and Boise State visits Washington to continue the divine punishment for whatever enormous sin Tyrone Willingham committed. Apparently, however the Broncos-Huskies match will be regional action on FSN; the rest of us get the thrilling tilt between Fresno State and Texas A&M. Goody.

At 5:45 p.m., one of the most underrated rivalries in the SEC begins, as South Carolina goes between the hedges at Georgia. This is a scene-setter for the race in the East. Whichever team wins this game usually goes into November with title hopes. The loser often ends up playing in Nashville, Shreveport or Memphis come late December. The match is on ESPN2.

But wait, there's more. Fifteen minutes after the USC-UGA kickoff, Notre Dame takes a trip to Penn State, likely to have unspeakable things done to it unless JoePa accidentally spills his coffee in the booth and electrocutes the entire Nittany Lions coaching staff.

The somewhat interesting games keep stacking up from there. at 6:30 p.m., there's BYU at UCLA, on Versus. The 7 p.m. hour brings us TCU at Texas on FSN, when things calm down a bit before another upset special in South Florida at Auburn hits ESPN2. I know; it's shocking. Auburn actually schedules two BCS nonconference opponents -- in a row.

Then, a day that began early ends with a late game, a 9:15 p.m. showdown between Virginia Tech and LSU. Both teams are heavy favorites to at least make their conference championship games, while LSU is riding a wave of national-title publicity. Even if their coach is -- there's no kind way to say it -- one of the dumbest coaches in America. Bengals in the bayou at night? Trouble for the Hokies, C&F says.

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